This post is a response to "The Doctrine of Academic Freedom: Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice" by Sandra Y.L. Korn.
On March 6, 1961, American President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925 into effect, which required government contractors to "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." The modern theory of Affirmative Action was born and was further reinforced by the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and President Johnson's Executive Order 11246 a year later. The radical Leftism that was the centerpiece of the 1960s rejoiced, forcing even President Nixon to take heed and continue this new American tradition of trading Executive decrees for boosts in popularity polls.
By the time of Gerald Ford, Affirmative Action became less important (and generally fell out of fashion as the cause célèbre) as a new era of complex globalism took precedence. By 1978, Judith Katz, the author of the 1978 publication "White Awareness: Handbook for Anti-Racism Training", stopped mixing black-white group encounters and utilized all-white groups in her anti-racism training because she found that this led whites to focus on getting acceptance and forgiveness rather than changing their own actions or beliefs. A year later, President Carter issued Executive Order 12138, the final Executive Order on the topic, and this once galvanizing political solution, now at full saturation, yielded diminishing political returns. Despite nearly twenty years of executive orders, federal mandates, coordianted funding, legal force, academic and business participation, and making cultural apologism a fad, the liberal rank and file never accepted the failure of the initiative and continued to accuse academia, business, each other, and the entire world at large of racism as usual.
The left was obviously unhappy with these results. They expressed concerns about losing influence over the public with their loose and fast definition of equality. Was the equality of people harmed as people lost interest in these initiatives? The answer might be that yes, they did—but that’s not the most important question to ask. Socialists, leftists, and Tumblr bloggers obsession with the doctrine of “equality” often seems to bump against something I think much more important: logic.
In its oft-cited... well.. there is nothing to cite regarding equality because if you put two or more self-professed liberals of outstanding academic credentials in a room and asked them to define equality, they would not be able to agree to a definition. As a result of this subjective hemorrhaging, they have instead opted to utilize the brilliant phrase "social justice" which allows the heady theorists to maintain their infalsifiable subjectivity via the word "social" while allowing potential converts of lesser intellectual rigor to feel emotionally associated with the word "justice". It's still the same extremely subjective concepts underneath this new slick Web 2.0 marketing gimmick.
Yet the liberal obsession with “equality” seems a bit misplaced to me. After all, no one ever has “equality” or absolute parity in this universe. Which opportunities exist and who the winners and losers are will always be contingent on not just social, monetary, and political priorities, but each of those higher order manifestations are totally contingent on spatial, temporal, neurological, and even genetic configurations. The location of a physical body on the planet can have dramatic implications on its outcome. No person is ever “equal” in relation to another person. If the world opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should these oppositions be taken seriously when these goals are defined by a highly subjective concept like "equality"?
Instead, I would like to propose a more rigorous standard that maintains the subjective essence of the topic: “Equality as religion” When equality is used to either justify or resist oppression, it should be given the same treatment as any other religion. That is to say people are free to put faith in this subjective concept, but public policy, laws, and the state at large may not be influenced by it whatsoever.
The power to enforce equality comes from Executive decrees, military weapons, threat of legal intervention, and now using the internet to induce public shaming on a scale unseen since Mao's Cultural Revolution. Twenty years ago, the adherents of equality promoted Affirmative Action as their champion and had the full backing of multiple presidential administrations, each of which had the absolute authorization to inflict nuclear war on anyone that disagreed with them. Additionally, they had powerful allies within the mass media narrative and within academia. I consider that sort of coordination both overwhelming and paranoid. Perhaps the question should be asked: Does government have the legal right to create policies based on a concept that resembles a religion? In terms of realpolitik, anyone with nuclear weapons can do whatever they want. Do I think they should do that? No, and I would happily organize with other reasonable and sane people on this planet to stop them from favoring a religious crusade that gathers its definitions based on whatever is trending on Twitter. “Equality” might permit such things as banning free speech (and by extension, free thought); equality as religion would never have such power.
Over the past decade, America has found itself using the undefinable narrative of equality as justification to invade Afghanistan, Syria, and Iran, and clever corporations such as Walmart have hijacked the narrative to ensure they get guaranteed income from governments for enforcing these mandates. Anyone who dared question the concept of equality was cast as a heretic and left for online mobs to harass until the end of time.
In this case, discourse about “equality” shows how it is actually nothing more than political and financial swindling. Those defending the exploitation of a barely defined concept should use a more rigorous standard. Anyone who tries to boycott the concept of equality is instantly met with the forces that only a nuclear-tipped power can command. People on the left that support equality can continue to play the “social justice” game, and should continue their worship of amorphous entities if they find meaning in it. Only those who care about logic can take the moral upper hand.
It is tempting to decry frustrating restrictions caused by equality as religion as violations of equality. Yet I would encourage the entrenched power structure of today that were the shock troops of the 1960s to instead use a framework of logic. After all, if we give up our obsessive reliance on the doctrine of equality, we can consider more thoughtfully what is just.