There’s a hopeful testimony from a former Social Justice Warrior on the left that deserves some attention. Keri Smith, once a member of the SJW “cult” as she describes it, wrote honestly about her mounting disillusions with the left and its emerging opposition to things it once claimed to stand for – peace, love, tolerance, and the free and open exchange of ideas.
Smith started becoming alarmed by the seeming lack of dignity and humanity many of her fellow leftists were demonstrating to their political opposition on the right. As I wrote previously about Planned Parenthood and its defenders, it’s a very short road between dehumanizing your opponents and condoning or committing acts of violence against them.
When Smith started seeing justification given for committing violence against those on the right, she recoiled and began thinking critically about what she was associating with.
I’ve always been intrigued in my discussions and debates with Social Justice Warriors by their assumption of moral superiority. I’m partially entertained by that misplaced belief because it is often an accusation they make of folks on the right: “Oh you Christians get so holier-than-thou and act like you’re better than everyone else.”
Actually, no. We Christians believe that God is holier-than-thou and we believe that He is better than you, me, and everyone else. We boast of His goodness, His will, and His truth, not our own.
But to those who either reject the existence of God or at least His applicability to politics and society, virtue is a personal creation or cultural manifestation. That is the movement to which Keri Smith once belonged, and from which she became disenchanted:
I don’t yet know what to call this part of the left. Maajid Nawaz calls them the “Regressive Left.” Others call them SJWs (Social Justice Warriors) or the Alt-Left. The ideology is post-modernist cultural marxism, and it operates as a secular religion. Most are indoctrinated in liberal elite colleges, though many are being indoctrinated online these days. It has its own dogma and jargon, meant to make you feel like a good person, and used to lecture others on their ‘sin.’ “Check your privilege”- much like “mansplaining” and “gaslighting”- all at one time useful terms- have over time lost a lot of their meaning. These days I see them most frequently being abused as weaponized ad hominem attacks on a person’s immutable identity markers….a way to avoid making an argument, while simultaneously claiming an unearned moral highground in a discussion.
I’m not sure there has been a more articulate explanation of the SJW phenomenon on the left than that. “Unearned moral highground.” Why unearned? Because it is built entirely upon words – just words. As Smith noted,
“It is not enough to speak about a belief in equality, justice, liberty, tolerance and love if by your actions you are illustrating the opposite by dehumanizing people, calling for their murder, justifying physical violence against them.”
Yet that is what is happening from Twitter to college campuses. And to any Social Justice Warrior who really cares about public virtue, like Keri Smith, that will necessarily present a crisis of thought that must be confronted:
I have been wondering why more people on the left are not speaking up against violence, in favor of free exchange of ideas and dialogue, in favor of compassion. But I know why. I was in the cult. Part of it is that you are a true believer, and part of it is that you are fearful of being called an apostate — in being trashed as a sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, xenophobic, fascist, white supremacist nazi.
A cult indeed. But one that can be exposed and overcome. Keri Smith is living proof of that.