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We will fight them in the textbooks, we will fight them in the dictionaries, we will …

We will fight them in the textbooks, we will fight them in the dictionaries, we will …

He who defines the terms, controls the debate.

There is no better example than “social justice,” a term which as defined by academia and the media means left-wing policies, setting conservatives back on their heels.  Who could be against “social justice”?

Thanks to reader Luke in Oakton, Virginia, who writes:

Professor Jacobson – I love your bumper sticker feature.  Here’s a bumper sticker I see everyday, well, because it’s on my car.  I can’t tell you how many nice comments I collect from total strangers.  I thought you might like to share it with your audience.

Keep up the great work and the fine sense of humor.


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DINORightMarie | October 8, 2011 at 8:17 am

In honor of your title, here is a link to PowerLine blog related to Churchill: Winston’s Warning to Obama.

I have been asking for several years now: why does the right allow the left to define the terms and thus control the conversation? Thank you for commenting about the fact that it is the left who is defining the terms and controlling the debate; also, by allowing them to define what is “fair,” they have almost won any debate by default.

That is, perhaps, why the 2008 debates then, and the Republican debates now, were and are so frustrating. The left always wins, according to the “moderators,” because they use their terms and their definition of “fair” to create the questions, evaluate the answers, and draw the inevitable, pre-determined conclusions.

Great bumper sticker! (BTW – social justice is explained well in Stanley Kurtz’s book Radical in Chief, and Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism. Both excellent reads.)

My, my Professor, how Churchillian!

I couldn’t agree more and as Karl Rove so pitifully exhibited during his time in the WH that you had better not let the opponents define the playing field nor narrative, because once the perception sets in, it is almost impossible to change.

Oh, and it sure would be nice for The West to find their inner Churchill and stand up against Islam’s demographic invasion. Islam is also using words and definitions to win their war of civilizations – try looking up the term – Islamophobia and trace its etiology.

2012 Redefinition: The Barack Stops Here

DINORightMarie | October 8, 2011 at 9:49 am

TotallY OT, referencing your blog of the day: “we are the 53%,” which has the question beneath, “if we are the 53% then how are they the 99%?”

I think that this is in fact an example of the 80/20 principle. About 20% of the US population is made up of self-identified Marxists/anarchists/anti-Capitalists, who are dictating to the 80% of the rest of us who are working hard, contributing to our communities, taking care of our homes and families, etc.

They are the 20% causing 80% of the woes we now are experiencing – including and spurred on by the current occupants of White House, IMHO.

So they are actually the 20%, not the 99%, a subset of the 47% who are moochers off the federal government.

William A. Jacobson: There is no better example than “social justice,” a term which as defined by academia and the media means left-wing policies, setting conservatives back on their heels. Who could be against “social justice”?

The concept of social justice stems from Thomas Aquinas, and is an integral part of Catholic and other religious traditions.

    yes, and it should be noted:

    In the chapter “The “Common Good” and What it Means” Josef Pieper a Thomist Philosopher talks about the meaning and use of Aquinas’ “distributive justice. “.

    He asks, “What does it mean, then, to exercise “distributive justice”? It means: to make sure that the individual members of the population are given the opportunity to add their contribution to the realization of the bonum commune that is neither specifically nor comprehensively defined. This participation according to each person’s dignitas or capacity and ability – this is precisely each person’s rightful “due”. And this participation may not be prevented by the administrator of the bonum commune if the institia distributive, the justice of power, is not to be violated. This points to a further aspect: the “good of a commonwealth” includes the inborn human talents, qualities and potentials, and part of the institia distributive is the obligation to protect, preserve and foster these capacities

    Pieper further writes regarding the essential element of totalitarian regimes:

    “There the political powers claim the right to define in complete detail the specifics of the bonum commune. The fateful and destructive nature of those five year plans does not come from their attempt to increase industrial output or to gear production and demand toward each other. What is so ruinous here is the fact that the “plan” becomes the exclusive standard that dictates not only the production of material goods but equally the pursuits of universities, the creation of artists, even the leisure activities of the individual – so that anything not totally conforming to this standard is suppressed as “socially unimportant” and “undesirable”.

    Above quotes are from Josef Pieper: An Anthology, Ignatius Press

    Midwest Rhino (not RINO) in reply to Zachriel. | October 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Wikipedia lays out the progression of the term fairly well.

    Social justice certainly took on a more political meaning lately, as opposed to a more voluntary action within a church. But even in the church, the concept that “In a sense it is true that we cannot be saved unless we are all saved”, seems like a departure from basic Christian belief of individual responsibility and accountability.

    But once the government steps in and starts adopting the role of administering “social justice, equal outcome”, we get a whole new set of problems. As “unbiblical” as the term may have been at first, it turned Orwellian when used with the power of the state. There are heavenly rewards promised for free will giving, not for robbery with the promise to redistribute.

    Social justice training must be why young kids don’t keep score in school basketball games … it doesn’t really matter if the ball goes through the hoop. I guess getting rid of teams altogether will be next.

      Midwest Rhino (not RINO): But once the government steps in and starts adopting the role of administering “social justice, equal outcome”, we get a whole new set of problems. As “unbiblical” as the term may have been at first, it turned Orwellian when used with the power of the state.

      The problem with that position is if it degenerates into black-and-white thinking. The power of the state ended Jim Crow. The power of the state ended child labor. The power of the state provides a basic social safety net. Obviously, if the government takes over all spheres of life, then society is much the poorer, but the state having some power to mitigate the worst inequalities has led to a more just and prosperous society overall.

    ella8 in reply to Zachriel. | October 8, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    The difference between social justice in the Church vs. government is that one is voluntary the other coerced. Also, if the principal of subsidiarity is applied, then the reciever of charity maintains their dignity, can be held accountable, and is given what they need to learn how to fish themselves. Unfortunately even the Catholic church has abandoned this principal. Federally controlled health care and welfare runs counter to this principal, however unless abortion and contraceptives are involved the Church tends to support these large and unaccountable programs. They also support unions without regard to those who may be hurt by the overreach of union power and they do not take into consideration that the union employees may be getting more than their fair share at their neighbors expense and destroying municipalities and industries. In my opinion they are contradicting the principal of subsidiarity, encouraging anger, covetousness, and greed (these are union values), and ignoring the common good. In other words their pursuit of social justice has created more social injustice.

[…] more deserving of a good kicking) is “social justice.” Over at Legal Insurrection, Prof. Jacobson observes that He who defines the terms, controls the […]

I’ve been following your blog since the WI protests, and finally decided to sign in. I spent many years in grad school at UW Madistan in the ’80’s, and enjoyed your coverage.

I’m a Roman Catholic who has had it with “social justice.” The Catholic vote has been stolen via this deception. Communists and their sympathizers infiltrated the episcopacy by 1950 or so, and have successfully changed the thinking of most Catholics. (Brainwashed, to borrow a term?)

A key figure in this is Fr. Bryan Hehir, a Harvard professor (’nuff said?) who wrote an infamous document 30 years ago that framed social justice as a “seamless garment” covering a multitude of issues. The “garment” bore an uncanny resemblance to the Democratic Party platform on every issue except abortion. Hehir brilliantly used the “seamless” concept to juxtapose abortion with opposition to the death penalty. This let Dem politicians trade anti-death-penalty credits to cover abortion advocacy. The garment also disguised redistribution as charity, which is the core of “social justice.” Now the average pew-sitter thinks ObamaCare is just heavenly.

It might be a surprise to learn that many popes prior to 1960 vociferously condemned Communism and Socialism. In particular, the concept of a centralized economy is condemned on two counts, first for violation of the Commandment, “Thou shalt not steal,” and second because it is an unnatural social construct that will inevitably lead to the destruction of Christian society. The popes used to defend as inviolable the right of ownership of private property.

If Catholics would just reject the effeminate gobbledygook that emanates from our bishops today and recognize that redistribution and envy are sins, we’d have the voting bloc to put society on a better path. I’m not holding my breath.

    So Cal Jim in reply to JerryB. | October 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm


    ella8 in reply to JerryB. | October 8, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you for your explanation. I have recently decided to convert to Catholicism but I am very disappointed in the leanings of the Church. In my heart I know that I am doing the right thing and I am going to continue, but I feel like something is not right. I had come to similar conclusions that you mentioned just from attending the services. I had started to do some research and when I learned of the principal of subsidiarity, I knew that the Church was off track. Perhaps I should look into Mormonism further.

      ella8 in reply to ella8. | October 8, 2011 at 1:45 pm

      Any church that takes a political side is the wrong church or is on the wrong path. The reason why I chose to leave the Episcopal Church was for that very reason. It was founded on a political compromise. The Church should be a rock not a pawn to an agenda.

      JerryB in reply to ella8. | October 8, 2011 at 4:17 pm

      Hi ella8 – Don’t let the leftie bishops scare you off. Look at the clear teachings like Sally Paradise brought up (above). Here in the GPRM (Gay Peoples’ Republik of Massachusetts), we stay sane with our “old school” friends at, away from the “social justice” and kumbaya crowd.

That is the best bumper sticker I have ever seen! Kudos to Luke.