The Issue at a Glance
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“Social Justice” and Its Postmodern Parentage ( https://doi.org/10.1007/s12129-018-9701-9)
Michael Rectenwald, New York University
“Safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” “bias reporting hotlines,” the “no-platforming” of speakers, and speech codes are the accoutrements of social justice warfare on today’s campuses. But social justice, explains Michael Rectenwald in this first entry in our Can Reason Win? feature, owes little to the postwar civil rights movement of the 1960s, which espoused individual justice as a primary goal. Social justice on campuses today is the offspring of postmodernism—now in its death throes—which held that objective reality is a farce played by the powerful to oppress the weak. For Rectenwald, who in 2016 was hounded into paid leave by administrators at New York University, only postmodernism’s denial of truth can explain the rise of transgender theory, with its mantra that gender is subjective, and that sexual characteristics are overridden by gender choices.