This is the third installment of SBC Perspectives. This is a series on different perspectives and opinions. No judgments are made. No manipulation was attempted. This series is all about giving everyone a voice who reached out to us and wanted us to do an article about them and their opinion.
Today we have Daniel Ackerman who is very much against the new wave of social justice. But don’t take our word for it. See it from Daniel yourself. Enjoy!
1. State your name, age, profession (no need to mention the place of work or name of employer but just your area of work), your views on religion and a brief view on social justice.
“My name is Daniel Ackerman, I am 19 years old. I work as a paraeducator in a classroom for students with autism. I am a hopeful agnostic, if that makes any sense. I think that social justice means many things to different people, and it could depend on where you were raised, your age, your parents’ views, your level of education, your field of study, and quite possibly your professors’ opinions as well. That’s not necessarily definitive, but I think we are impressionable people and many factors over the course of our lives can affect our personal beliefs.”
2. Do you know what a social justice warrior is? If so, what do you think of them?
“I have heard the term “social justice warrior” applied to many people. In my opinion, it is a term that is used to belittle peoples’ passion for political issues. Anyone who talks about racial injustice, feminism, contraception and abortion, animal rights, or any other social/political issues could be called a social justice warrior. It just means that you’re taking these issues too seriously. I’d say that is what the term means for people on the Internet. For anyone else, I’d think it is a label you would use for someone that you respect. Someone who fights for social justice (however subjective that may be). Someone who is courageous and humane. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Ghandi could be considered prominent social justice warriors in history. Concerning people on the Internet, I would only ever use the term in jest. That’s just the way I’ve grown to use the term, and I don’t think I would ever find myself in a real-life circumstance where I could use it to describe someone seriously. People that I typically stereotype as “social justice warriors”, are animal rights activists, pro-life activists, radical feminists, and even some racial activists. I would consider them as such because their ideals come from a position of hyperactive concern for the fairness of others, and prominent display of such concern. These are the people who are always sharing Facebook posts, have a large presence in forums or comment sections where the content consists of decrying the actions of others, never hesitate to insert their beliefs in any seemingly casual conversation or interaction, and give the impression that they simply live to champion their beliefs and make anyone who associates with them know exactly what they stand for. In short, they’re obnoxiously political. You can be a social justice warrior for any particular belief, but those are the people that I associate the word with. If the majority of my interactions with you consist of you “correcting” everything I say to conform to some subjective idea of politically acceptable, and inserting your politics into anything that contains certain, highly-predictable “buzz words”, I will consider you a social justice warrior, and I’ll probably avoid you except for the most apolitical of interactions.”
3. How do you think the politically correct culture, if such a thing even exists, is affecting the world as we know it? Any particular effects on the Western countries?
“I think political correctness is one of the greatest threats to maintaining a society of free thought and intellectual diversity. I have seen many instances of political censorship and ideological conformity in other countries, especially in European countries. This is especially… Frustrating to me as these countries are, *in principle*, not as restricted as countries like China, North Korea, and many in the Middle East, but they seem no more free to express their beliefs as anyone in those totalitarian societies. It is because of these unfortunate instances that I avoid reading or thinking about the aspect of free expression in these countries, and focus on my own. Too many times I have read about some new law in England or Ireland restricting expression in some perverse form or another – and thought, “that would never happen in America”. I am also reminded how grateful I am for the protections built into the foundation of our country – protections against political correctness. In our country, we are guaranteed the right to free expression of our own thoughts and beliefs, no matter how unpopular they may be. Perhaps it irks me even more, then, to see these rights subverted. I think political correctness is in direct contradiction to the fundamental rights secured to us by the constitution. We see this occasionally, in legislation, and more often in institutions like public high schools and universities. Defenses against certain “microagressions” are actually becoming part of the written rules on some college campuses, and many more have active petitions for such rules by attending students. Which leads me to the other part about political correctness for which I have so much disdain: many American citizens believe laws should be passed restricting speech that is deemed “hurtful”. These people need to be educated about the freedoms we enjoy as a nation and why the constitution is so very simple and ironclad. Virtually all speech is protected (except the few instances where the Supreme Court has decided otherwise), and to change that you need to go through the Supreme Court itself. I think dangerous precedents are being set that may lead to the disintegration of even more first amendment rights, and that many Americans will not care or might even support it. I think the idea of political correctness supports societal and political uniformity and challenges the idea of ideological diversity which makes this country great by determining that some topics and opinions are unacceptable for expression or discussion, even for the purpose of scrutinizing or criticizing them.”
4. Do you think that the social justice movements are cultural Marxists or what do you think they are?
“I think that is true of most social justice movements. The aim of these movements is to change public perception of certain issues, and most involved in these movements believe the perceptions have arisen from cultural norms. Most of these movements come from the idea that our society has a problem that needs to be fixed.”
5. What is your particular concern for social justice and politics?
“I don’t really have any concern for current social justice movements. Racial discrimination will always be a problem, as will discrimination towards any group of people. But the movements that have come about after police “murders” have strayed so very far from their intended message. I think what needs to be changed about society should be done so by way of gradual progress by raising awareness, and not many movements have embraced this idea at all. There is not much for a feminist, or an animal rights activist, or a racial activist to fight for nowadays. All want some form of radical change, but the days of radical change are now behind us. One thing I know is that you can’t force people to think a certain way or act a certain way. But raising awareness and promoting compassion and tolerance will get you much further then loud protests and imposing demands.”
6. What do you mean by loud protests and imposing demands? Can you give examples?
“Well, by loud protests I would have to point invariably to the Black Lives Matter movement. These hooligans run around college campuses disrupting libraries and shouting at people for no immediately recognizable reason, and I’m not even sure what their objective as a “movement” is. That’s not good business for a social justice movement to be recognizable only for their ironic racism and rambunctious manner of activism in the public eye. It means the message of racial awareness and tolerance is completely drowned out. And for list of demands I believe the specific instance I was thinking of is the list that was released to faculty by a group of University of Missouri students, which called for the resignation of its president along with a host of other things, like tailoring curriculum to address racial discrimination, increasing colored faculty members, and a letter from Wolfe (the president) acknowledging his “white privilege” and that there was a system of oppression. But I was more referring to the stated objectives of social justice movements that are displayed on picket signs and such.”
7. A lot of these protests are aimed at “cis gendered white men” with the idea of white privilege. What do you think of this?
“I think white privilege doesn’t exist. I don’t think any human being is inherently better than another, and I don’t think that I receive special treatment due to being a straight, white male. I think people who believe this are seriously misguided and should look at their own statements when considering the racism that they need to be fighting against. I think it is racist to assume a white, straight male would be treated any differently than a black male, or a gay woman, or an Indian transgender person. Would it not be racist if I assumed that, because of my skin tone or sexual orientation, I will be treated better than others? Well, the inverse is racist as well. The truth is, in too many circumstances, human beings are treated unfairly across the world for many reasons. There will always be people who discriminate against others, but to suggest such discrimination is inherent in our society as a whole is to discount the majority of people who are good-willed, and see all people as simply people.”
8. Where do you think political correctness is headed?
“I try to stop myself from being skeptical, but I think political correctness in this country will only get worse. There will only be more people who want defense from being offended, or hearing views that don’t quite align with their own. We will see more people who truly believe that the 1st amendment shouldn’t apply to “hateful” speech, and institutions will continue to suppress the expressions of their loyal followers and participants, even if their expressions are representative of the majority view. We see this with social media all the time, and while I’m a firm supporter of the rights of private businesses, these are setting precedents. If something becomes commonplace in social media or public colleges, who’s to say it won’t make its way to municipal law, or state legislature, and even federal law? We may see quite a few landmark Supreme Court cases over just how much of our speech is protected by the constitution.”
9. When you say certain things do you ever get the “check your privilege” argument thrown at you?
“No. I think most of the people I am able to debate with know it’s beyond cliche. The people who would (probably) use it don’t let me get far enough… Those arguments are usually very short and end with them assaulting me with a long list of choice, how should I say, “adjectives”. Very flattering… But I’ve gotten the same idea.
People have asked me if I would acknowledge the advantage that I have over people with color, or women, or gays… or recognizing the disadvantage, rather, that those people suffer compared to myself. But I don’t really see it that black and white. I feel institutional discrimination is a lot less relevant than personal discrimination. For every person who would discriminate against a gay person or a black person or a woman, there is someone who would discriminate against a white person, or a man, or someone with disabilities, or someone who is depressed, or someone who supports Obama…
No one is immune to the distasteful people who will judge you by things that lie on the surface rather than deep in the heart of your character. So it is with privilege… We all have different physical characteristics, we all have different beliefs, we all perceive life’s great joys and perils in our own unique way. Don’t think that because you are one way, the odds are stacked against you. Don’t think that because you have something, your life will be easier than someone else’s.”
10. Do you think that those who are into social justice but could be of the radical variety and more peaceful voices can co-exist?
“I think both can learn something from the other. But sometimes people will characterize an entire movement by its more radical voices. I am guilty of this, as are most people. We are all judgmental, even if it is just subconscious. But there is always another side. I think we can all put forth an effort to keep our minds open to ideas that we would immediately write off as differing greatly from our own. We can benefit from that.”
11. Well it was nice having you Mr. Ackerman. It was a pleasure and we hope to work with you again. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
“Nothing else, thanks.”
As always with SBC Perspectives we simply report on exactly what a person says. Someone would have to be really imaginative to say Daniel is an evil man or wants to hurt anyone. For goodness sake he does a vital job for children with autism and we need people like this. Not to mention that he is willing to have a direct dialogue with those who he disagrees with. Maybe we need to be more understanding of each other regardless of our disagreements because if this man is what so many social justice warriors would consider to be evil and privileged then something has gone horribly wrong with social justice.
If you or anyone else you know wants to appear on SBC Perspectives email us at SBCPerspectives@yahoo.com and give us your name and contact information.