By Donovan Choy, libertarianism.sg
The term ‘social justice’ used to hold a precious meaning. In the 60’s, the mention of social justice brought to mind fearless men like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King championing civil rights for African Americans. In the early 20th century, it brought to mind feminists fighting for the fundamental right to vote, for the right to legal recourse for rape by their husbands. It brought to mind bold white men and women like William Lloyd Garrison and Margaret Fuller who so tediously paved the path of abolitionism so men like Abraham Lincoln could leave a legacy behind.
Today in 2016, the term social justice is but an empty shell of its former glory. What used to bring to the forefront of our minds the passionate fight for a fundamental equality of human rights, the words ‘social justice’ has since been sabotaged by so-called progressives all over the world, squabbling ever so anxiously every time their precious feelings are provoked. In fact, the term ‘social justice warrior’ (SJW) is used as a derogatory slang. How did such a term come to be so warped with negative connotations? One does not have to look very far on the internet for a prime example.
A recent debacle taking place in the Singapore social media sphere illustrates this retrograde behaviour of political correctness well. Local entertainment lifestyle site The Smart Local was criticised by several disgruntled individuals for a short video they produced on the Hindu festival Deepavali. The video that has been taken down, was attacked for being disrespectful and portraying the festival in a poor light, triggering the anger of thousands of Singaporeans.
Amidst all the backlash and infuriating ululations, a common accusation that was hurled against TSL was the notion of ‘Chinese privilege’, a colloquial term used to describe institutional racism against racial minorities in Singapore. To these critics, the claim for ‘racial diversity’ is seen as a moral right; it is worn as a badge of honour.
One social media spectator uses a picture of the TSL crew as ‘evidence’ that the team was not racially diverse because none of them were Indians. What then, pray tell, is the solution here exactly? Should the government pass a law that ensures all businesses hire a strict quota of racial minorities? If we truly want to be racially diverse, why stop at Singapore’s racial ‘identities’? Why not also have the bill sanction that all companies meet minimum criteria of Caucasians, Africans, Mongolians and Australian Aborigines? Are these others races less important because they don’t live here with us in Singapore?
If you find this ‘solution’ utterly absurd and ridiculous, it’s because it is. This claim is tantamount to demanding that women should play football alongside men for ‘gender diversity’. If we logically extend the argument of these critics to the extreme, that is simply what they are howling for: Racial diversity for the sake of racial diversity.
No longer are we unique individuals with different skill sets and talents; we’re simply Chinese, Indian or Malay. ‘Hire a person not based on his/her merits’, they yell, ‘Hire them based on their race! We must have racial diversity for the sake of having it!’
Racial equality and opportunity is the key, not racial diversity for the sake of having racial diversity – there is a world of difference. If we put aside our emotional knee-jerk reactions for a moment and think about it honestly, this ‘valiant’ call for racial diversity is in fact precisely what racism is: judging one solely based on race.
The ‘insufficiently imaginative’ attitudes of these deluded progressives are aptly described here.
The real tragedy lies in the fact that the most grievous harm against racial equality is perpetrated by well-intentioned do-gooders like Pooja Nansi, Alfian Sa’at, Joel Bertrand Tan and so on. In their noble crusade for racial diversity, what they fail to realise is that their forced idea of racial diversity is more racist than anything else.
They are essentially saying: Any organisation or workplace composed mostly or entirely of Singaporean Chinese is bad, and is a sign of ‘Chinese privilege’. If employers took their advice and ushered in racial minorities under their payroll, then the employers themselves would effectively be practicing racism against Chinese individuals! How can the solution against racism be more racism?
Oscars 2016 Boycott
To illustrate my point further, we look briefly at last year’s Academy Awards show. Prominent black actors such as Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Spike Lee boycotted the awards show because there was a lack of black nominees. Lee wrote on his Instagram, ‘How is it possible for the 2nd consecutive year all 20 contenders under the actor category are white? 40 white actors in 2 years and no flava at all.’
Once again, we witness the conceited, self-entitled cry for a specialised racial privilege. The Smiths and Lee are upset simply because there aren’t any African-American nominees. Therefore, if the organisers of the awards show wish to pacify them, they should specifically place some black actors and actresses in the categories – not because of the prowess of their acting performances but simply because of the colour of their skin!
The racial privilege rhetoric that progressives like to trot out every chance they get is nothing more than a smart rhetorical ploy that very deviously shifts the argument from the empirical-based evidence of how institutions should be structured to a personal attack on an opponent. From there on out, the argument then turns to whether and how privileged the person is and goes downhill from there.
This vitriolic politically-correct culture does not stop at racial issues, and continues to undermine the fundamental freedom of speech and expressing ideas around the world.
Racism (institutional or not) exists in Singapore. Surely only the most intransigent bigot would deny this claim. But instead of rallying for racial diversity, we should instead channel our efforts toward racial equality and opportunity. Racial minorities do indeed face real challenges, but imposing diversity quotas instead of tackling the complex issues that are the root of these challenges is truly irrational. Call me crazy, but I believe people’s abilities, aptitudes and success should be measured precisely based on their abilities, aptitudes and success – not on the colour of their skin. Until these people can overcome their emotional infatuation for ‘racial diversity’, the words ‘social justice’ will continue to be nothing more than a common internet slur.
The author's original Facebook post was first published here
This article was first published on libertarianism.sg. Libertarian Society of Singapore holds strongly to the maxim that “the government that governs best governs least”. We believe that each Singaporean has the right to live his life in any way he chooses, so long as he respects the equal rights of others. Accordingly, the role of government is not to run the economy and run our lives, but simply to protect the rights of Singaporeans.