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Goldberg doesn’t get social justice -- Richard Betz

February 19, 2019

Jonah Goldberg’s Feb. 7 column, ” The problem with ‘social justice’: It’s nonsensical,” tried to discredit what is for most people an apolitical moral imperative by reducing it to a set of politically correct, left-wing dictates to be imposed on society at large, especially white males.

Goldberg counters this imagined call for “payback” by arguing that because former slave owners aren’t around anymore, no one can rightly be held responsible for redressing the legacy of slavery. He argues that because the pioneers who expropriated land inhabited by Native Americans are dead and buried, unemployment and alcoholism on reservations is somebody else’s problem.

As a matter of law -- and these days, at least, of public policy -- he’s probably right. But for those of us for whom “social justice” is an animating moral force, rather than the euphemism for forced redistribution of wealth and property Goldberg seems to think it is, this is beside the point. Only those capable of closing their eyes to these and other social ills can reduce “justice” to a legalistic framework of individual guilt and innocence, debts and reparations.

It is, or should be, a call to selfless personal action, and if Goldberg doesn’t hear it, I feel sorry for him.

Richard Betz, Madison