Although in context within the United Nations’ document “Social Justice in an Open World: The Role of the United Nations” it isn’t entirely clear what’s intended, this line that Jonah Goldberg quotes in a Prager University video (embedded here) is important to notice and remember:
Present-day believers in an absolute truth identified with virtue and justice are neither willing nor desirable companions for the defenders of social justice.
On its own, that statement is pretty stunning. It finishes a paragraph that lays out a series of opposing juxtapositions showing different perspectives on whether income inequality is just or unjust. On the one hand, “arguments founded on moral fairness are easily disposed of in an atmosphere of moral relativism and cultural pluralism.” On the other hand, the authors of the document don’t want social justice warriors to make the mistake of associating with “believers in an absolute truth.”
Such is the challenge for progressives who would impose their morality on the people of the planet Earth. They have to maintain a fog of relativism so that none can contest their assertions about social justice, but that fog requires them to find ways to assert their beliefs that don’t rely on morality or the concept of fairness. What a fabulously rich insight into the approach of international progressives! The intention to assert a moral imperative without acknowledging that they are doing so explains their proclamation of pretended objective standards (like science) while they obfuscate language (through political correctness) as they gain positions of power from which simply to impose their will without articulating justification or having to win an extended public debate.
Consider the regulatory “guidance” that the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination released on September 1st, giving organizations one month to prepare. As Tyler O’Neill reports (all emphasis in original):
The guidance specifically mentions churches as falling under the “public accommodation” restrictions against “discrimination” on the basis of gender identity: “Even a church could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public,” the MCAD explained.
The restrictions are massive. Any “public accommodation” must allow patrons to use men’s or women’s restrooms — and locker rooms and changing rooms— “consistent with their gender identity.” Such places must also “use names, pronouns, and gender-related terms appropriate to employee’s stated gender identity in communications with employee and with others.”
One cannot believe in religious freedom or even the secular right to free association and speech and see this development as anything other than an assault on Constitutional rights. Unfortunately, decades of mal-education have left generations unable to understand why the government’s labeling of a group as a “protected class” is not a workaround that allows the government to tell people what they can and cannot do or say if they wish to interact in public.
But the U.N. statement provides the key: The idea is to impose a moral, even existential, judgment about humanity and reality as if it is merely an objective application of a principle on which we all generally agree. Thus do progressives establish their fundamentally religious beliefs as the official government ideology without ever having to place their absolute truth alongside Christians’ absolute truth for public comparison.
Of course, at a deeper lever, that’s not precisely true. As Goldberg puts it:
… if you believe truth and justice are concepts independent of the agenda of the forces of progress, as defined by the Left, you are an enemy of social justice.
Their absolute truth is established no more firmly than in the sand of their own aesthetic preferences and emotions, which are naturally dominated by a judgment of what serves their own interests at any given moment. In some times and places, it serves such people to discriminate against Jews in the name of national or religious identity. In other times and places, it serves them to discriminate against Christians in the name of “tolerance” and “diversity.”
Democrat candidate for president Hillary Clinton provided a flash-point illustration of this dynamic with her statement that “you can put half of Trump supporters into … the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it.” The “you name it” is the giveaway. “Deplorables” are people who hold views that differ from the progressive Left, whatever they happen to be, and they are “irredeemable” and “not American,” thus (we can infer) they lack the right to be who they are, and Clinton’s political opponent might actually give them space to believe what they believe, so he must be stopped.