November 16, 2010

Letter to the Editor: Author ignores current injustices

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To the Editor:

Re: “Replacing Justice With Fairness” Opinion, Nov. 15

The author has essentially built a straw-man argument for the purpose of tearing it down. First, he deliberately misrepresents social justice. Social justice movements, such as feminism, anti-racism, LGBTQ rights and the like, are actually fighting for “dignity and equal treatment [for everyone] due to their natural rights” (the author’s words, not mine). His suggestion that these movements have won and are now irrelevant is extremely misguided. In a world where one in six women is sexually assaulted, 12 percent of black boys in the fourth grade are reading at their grade level and the president is reneging on his promise to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, these social justice movements are more relevant than ever.

Second, I don’t know which social justice activists the author has been reading, but there is a broad swath of authors, writers and bloggers using the language of justice (whatever that means, the author neither defines it nor provides an example of it) to discuss fighting discrimination on dozens of fronts and making justice for all a reality for all Americans. They are not asking for “acceptance,” they (we) are asking for equality.

Third, it is possible that religious language has fallen out of favor not because of a “culture of fairness,” but that is because such language is so often used to deny others their natural rights. Perhaps it was once a useful tool, but now it is a weapon.

Fourth, the characterization of Jon Stewart’s concert as our “1969 March on Washington” is, well, wrong. Our March on Washington hasn’t happened yet. There is a fight for justice to be fought, but it didn’t happen on October 30, 2010.

Finally, a small gain is not the same as a win. The problem with characterizing more “fairness” as such is that the culture of fairness isn’t real. Inequality runs rampant, but the author would have us believe the opposite.

Lauren Schneider ’11