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SOCIAL JUSTICE UN-AMERICAN?

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Many of us – and not just Democrats – were in shock after reading that State Senator Scott Frantz called “social justice” un-American during a speech at the official opening of Republican campaign headquarters Thursday.

“The Democrats,” he is quoted as saying in a Friday Greenwich Time article by Frank MacEachern, “How fundamentally un-American of them to push for concepts such as social justice.”

As opposed to the un-American term, “social justice,” Frantz said he’d like to coin the term “opportunity justice,” which he called “fundamentally American.”

When I read what Frantz said, I did a double-take. I thought I had mis-read something. I went back and re-read the paragraph. Once I realized this was in fact what Frantz had actually said, I put the paper down in shock and disbelief.

The concept of social justice has always been at the core of my being. It’s what defines America for me. It’s what makes America worth defending. It’s what gives meaning and purpose to my life, both in a spiritual sense and as a proud American.

While we still have miles to go in achieving true social justice, in my mind our country was founded on this principle at time when democracies didn’t exist in western civilization and nations were ruled by despots. Social justice is inseparable from our Declaration of Independence, our American Revolution and our Constitution.

The pursuit of social justice is central in the religious teachings of the Christian and Jewish religions that a majority of Americans adhere to, and therefore woven into the fabric of our culture, whether it’s an obligation to the poor, the needy, the vulnerable as taught by Jesus in Christian tradition, or the Jewish concept of “tikkun olam,” the repair of the world.

Our country was founded on the principle of equality: that all are created equal and endowed with the same rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And the Declaration of Independence seems clear that government, deriving its power from the consent of the governed, is instituted to secure these rights.

Isn’t that a declaration of social justice?

True, the exact wording was that “all MEN are created equal” and black men were slaves, considered as property, not men endowed by their Creator with the same inalienable rights as white men. But, for the times, the very concept of such social justice that declared all men as created equal was truly revolutionary.

And in our pursuit of social justice over the generations since our founding, we have freed our slaves and desegregated our schools and  produced the 1964 Civil Rights Act. We have given women the right to vote.

But still, we’re far from making Martin Luther King’s dream of true social justice a reality.

There remains much to be done as we seek a society with more equal access to the rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The fact is we live in a society still riddled with inequality, particularly economic inequality.

The gap between the rich and the poor grows ever wider. The rich become richer. The poor become poorer, with more numbered among them, while the middle class is struggling.

Unless we address our many social inequalities and invest in our human resources, we will eventually have a society that is unsustainable. Equality of opportunity – is this what Frantz means by “opportunity justice?” – is inseparable from social justice.

Once we give up the pursuit of social justice, as Frantz wants us to, we’ll have given up on the country that was the hope of our founders. We’ll have given up on America.

Categories: General

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5 Responses

  1. Allen McAllister says:

    A man who condems social justice desires injustice.

    A polititician who proclaims his contempt for social justice is inciting others to create injustice, violates his oath of office and should be removed.

  2. Robert Simms, Jr. says:

    Mr. Frantz is certainly not ignorant. We were. We elected him, and now he is claiming to not know us, to not know our heritage, and to not know our responsibility as citizens of a free society. Perhaps he is out of touch, and because the core tenets do not reside in ones head, I do not believe it is ignorance.

  3. You have captured the essence of the shock and disbelief that I’ve heard echoing all about town, on both sides of the aisle, since the opening of the GOP Headquarters. I just could not believe that Scott had made these comments, let alone in a meeting that had the press present. Sentiments like that seem more usually to be reserved for behind closed doors. What, indeed, could be MORE American than social justice, the premise upon which we as a nation were built. Do you want someone, or a party of people, looking out for your best interests who feel that social justice is un-American? It jerks me back to the 47% comments about “those entitled takers” amongst us.

    As you said in your article, these concepts were the bedrock of our Declaration of Independence, our American Revolution and of our Constitution. It just emphasized yet again for me, and I hope for many others, just how much is riding on this election. So many have so much to lose if people who accept or support this type of thinking get to govern, legislate and appoint Supreme Court Justices. The rights that so many of us take for granted in our country, and the safety nets of programs for our neediest men, women and children are in jeopardy.

    Thanks for stepping up, yet again, to be a voice for true democracy, and for the long-standing American way of doing the right thing for all our people. THAT is what makes us the best country in the world!

  4. Jane says:

    Alma,

    I agree with you, Alma. I was truly surprised that Mr. Frantz said this, as he has always been a generous donor. I think it must be that he has been swayed verbally by the “branding” experts in the Republican party who want to equate social justice with that other word that starts with social. It is fear that makes Republican politicians and their marketing teams use this terminology, as they seem to think that winning is more important than any kind of justice, and working together–community is another dirty word, and anything with the word “village” in it–is considered the sign of weakness. Community has been trumped by an absurdly branded ideology that seems to derive from the sophomoric and hypocritical opinions of Ayn Rand. I can’t believe Mr. Frantz truly believes that social justice is un-American, unless he has plans to run for a higher office and feels he must speak the rhetoric properly.

  5. Robert says:

    Only an ignorant man could say that social justice is un-American. An ignorant man who feels the voters are even more ignorant than he, and that they will accept any statement – no matter how vile – without objection.

    His statement shows a reckless disregard for truth, for the meaning of the words he twists, and contempt for the efforts amd sacrifices of countless people who fought for justice over the centuries.

    Mr. Frantz will evidently say anything he is told to say by the Party strategists; he is in short, a party stooge.

    In summary, Mr. Frantz is in equal parts ignorant, reckless, and a stooge. But there is hope for him – for with reflection and effort – one of these character traits can become dominant.

    Whatever becomes of Mr. Frantz, his statement is false, and vile. To accept it as anything else is un-American.