Critical theory never going to be best path to reconciliation

Thousands of people through New Zealand joined the Black Lives Matter protests. PHOTO: THE NEW...
Thousands of people through New Zealand joined the Black Lives Matter protests. PHOTO: THE NEW ZEALAND HERALD
On May the 25th, the world was graphically reminded that evil and suffering are not exclusively the prerogative of our current pandemic. The death of George Floyd sparked civil unrest that has shaken cities across the United States. Protestations began in the days following, with Black Lives Matter (once again) taking the helm.

Demonstrations were not confined to the US, and so, here in New Zealand, George Floyd demonstrations were organised in most of our major cities.

They were a chance for people to show solidarity with Americans and protest issues of police brutality.

They also proved to be an opportunity to charge one of our best national agencies with being structurally racist.

"Structural", or "institutional", racism, is a concept that refers to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes, for different racial groups. Usage of the term has become commonplace, thanks to the broad application of something called Critical Social Justice Theory.

This system of ideas promotes a critical (more accurately, cynical) perspective for understanding issues of social justice, asserting that inequality is deeply embedded in the very fabric of society (i.e. "structural"). Critical Social Justice is the world view that animates Black Lives Matter, Climate Justice, Intersectional Feminism, and (increasingly) the Maori protest movement.

It is a world view that stresses the value of knowledge, borne out of a person’s, "lived experiences of oppression".

During the late ’80s/early ’90s, I grew up in a small, rural town: the middle child to a Maori father and Pakeha mother.

For my family, the (then current) Maori protest movement, was an aspect of cultural consciousness that needed to be reconciled with the reality of living, day-to-day, in a mostly Pakeha farming community. A new, distinctly postmodern, Te Ao Maori was in the ascendant. The Maori Renaissance had produced zealous academics and activists, who were applying post-colonial theory, adopting critical perspectives, and challenging the "dominant Pakeha narrative".

We had the Puao-te-Ata-tu report, which had deemed "structural discrimination", "the most insidious and destructive form of racism". Mind you, my family didn’t need a report to tell us about racism. Growing up, I watched my father experience it.

I also watched him bear up under the weight of his experiences, teaching me how to do likewise, through the application of his Christian faith. In no small way, a structured institution — the Christian church — helped give my father the leverage to expose and dismantle the power of racism.

He understood that at the heart of the Christian faith, there is a powerful message of reconciliation: the gospel. Ironically, it was at the hands of some Christian peers, I had my most memorable encounter with racism. My father helped me through that time by encouraging me not to repay evil with evil but to forgive as God, in Christ, had forgiven me.

He brought home the reality of that "new commandment" given by Jesus, in John 13:34 and showed me that it was actually possible, as far as it depended on me, to live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:17-18).

Reconciling Christianity and Maoritanga can be a difficult task, because you’re dealing with two world views that are, ultimately, incompatible. While hard-won, I have found peace in understanding that the biblical world view is tika: true, just, fair, and righteous. This is a position that places me at odds with much that is bound up in Te Ao Maori.

Nevertheless — Ka mate te kainga tahi, ka ora te kainga rua — "when one house dies, a second lives". And, perhaps, for the best. Over the years, postmodern "Critical Theory" has become entrenched in Te Ao Maori and the effects have been disastrous. Today young Maori inherit a world view that encourages them to embody resentment, continuously pick at the "colonial wound", and adopt a cynical (i.e., critical) attitude towards non-Maori. Moreover, the game is rigged for those of us who choose not to buy the critical narrative. We are told (by well-meaning people) that we are "not Maori enough", have an "internalised colonial mentality", or have yet to find our "brown voice".

Our lived experiences of oppression count for nought, because we reject the theory.

We need to confront (and reject) "Critical Theory", because it’s ruining everything it touches: social justice, environmentalism, feminism, education, culture, and Christianity. Critical Social Justice is trying to pave the road to reconciliation with good intentions and bad ideas. Yet it has, as Dr James Lindsay rightly points out, "stolen social justice from the people who care about it and need it most".

Our social justice projects will be good and true, insofar as they are ministries of reconciliation. "Critical Theory" can’t achieve this but the gospel can. It is the power of God unto salvation, for all people, alike; it is the word of reconciliation.

 - Sam Mangai is a member of the Cornerstone International Bible Church in Dunedin.

 

Comments

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Critical Social Justice Theory is an attitude that is taught in universities.
It is a narcissistic narrative misrepresenting reality with a determined conviction to focus on half truths aimed to divide the so call victim group from the main population.
It has become the mainstay of the humanities, embedded within postmodernist theory, which is simply restructured Marxism.
It does not utilise history to build upon what has worked to better society and what is just but to active students (our youth, your children) to undermine society with self condemnation ( you are weak) and bitterness.
Critical Social Justice Theory has as much to do with social justice as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) has to do with democracy.
It is Orwellian in every respect.
It equates mod rule with justice, disruption and destruction with activism, tyranny with democracy, repression with freedom.
How have our government and university administrators have allowed such destructive ideology to invade our institutions?
The slogans do sound attractive but humanity has seen them many times before and the result has always the same. Mass death and poverty for the survivors.

What's the problem?

University is not conditioning. You'll get the SJT, Civil Society, Libertarian (Anarchy), Gerontocracy, Feminist collective and BunchaFascists or Whites.

Pick and choose.

Quite the Trojan Horse isn't it. What positive action has BLM or antifa done to help their communities other than destroy everything? The Marxists, Soros and Co, went underground after the fall of their flagship, the USSR. They’ve infiltrated social groups and had already infiltrated the media and education. Many of whom I call, 'the liberal, uni educated hairy armpit brigade' of the 90's, are now working their way up through the ranks and into politics, with their far-left socialist agendas. And that's a worrisome thing.

As one of the few black people living here in New Zealand, I find your comments interesting and amusing. You quite obviously haven’t done much research into the organization. Most people think that Black Lives Matter is a grass-roots, black created, black run organization dedicated to fighting racism. It most certainly is not. The Black Lives Matter movement is the creation of a group of a few very wealthy individuals, non-profit corporations, and the corporate media. Who funds Black Lives Matter? It’s funded by billionaires George Soros, Rob McKay, the Ford Foundation, the Borealis Philanthropy, the Democracy Alliance, and many others. Not exactly what I would call a black run grass-roots organization. Are police shootings of African American men on the rise? No they are not. In fact they are on the decline. According to the Juvenile and Criminal Justice Report, the rate of police killings of African Americans has fallen by 70% over the last 40-50 years. What we are seeing happening in the world right now under the guise of “eliminating racism”, – the destabilization of society, the protest, rioting, looting, burning, and killing are not spontaneous, grass-roots events.

According to the official Hennepin County Medical Examiner (not the private “examiner” paid for by the Floyd family legal team), George Floyd did not die from traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. The report stated that he died from a heart attack and the heart attack was a result of several factors. He had the narcotic Fentanyl in his system (which is 50 times more potent than heroin and the same drug that killed Prince), and he also had methamphetamines in his system. He also suffered from severe arteriosclerotic heart disease, and hypertension. All of that combined with his struggle with the police as they tried to subdue him is what caused him to go into cardiopulmonary arrest. Not just the fact that officer Chauvin had his knee on his neck. George Floyd received emergency medical care in the field, but he could not be resuscitated. Does that sound like murder to you? Read the report for yourself.Also the knee on the neck (neck restraint) maneuver was not something that the Minneapolis police reserved for use only on black people. They have used it over 200 times since 2015 on anyone they needed to subdue of all colors, white, black, brown, or whatever, and no one has ever died!

Under the guise of eliminating racism they push a policy to “Defund the Police”. This is right on the front of the Black Lives Matter website.Under the guise of eliminating racism they push a policy that they call, “Stop The Mass Incarcerations”. This is a policy that promotes the release of prison inmates before their time is up and putting them back on the street. Under the guise of eliminating racism they push for the decriminalization of drugs offenses, and the immediate pardon of all drug offenses with reparations paid to those convicted of drug offenses. So sum this up. In the African American community where there is the highest crime rate and the biggest problems with drug abuse, they push to release the inmates from prison and put them back on the streets, let drug use and drug dealing run wild, and then take away the police. What do you think the outcome of these policies will produce? More crime and drug abuse in the African American community. High crime and drug areas minus police equals hell, – easy math. Policies that promote more crime and drug abuse in the black community are what I call anti-black policies. These guys make the Ku Klux Klan look like angels!

Gospel? Slaves are ok (St Paul). Do you really want to side with oppressors, which is what happens without opposition to them?

'Do you really want to side with oppressors, which is what happens without opposition to them?' That sounds like the old 'if you're not for us then you're against us' strategy deployed by President Bush when planning the Iraq war.

Your wasting your time debating the dribble that rolls down the hill. The Bible also says we aren't responsible for the sins of our fathers (paraphrase). People like the hill don't realize white guilt is discriminatory in that it implies people of color are unable to compete fairly without the help of white liberals like herself. People like the hill think equality applies to outcomes. Equality means people have equal access to compete not that everybody gets an equal outcome. My brothers and sisters had equal access to education etc but that doesn't mean there is equality in the outcome. We cover the spectrum in outcome from the dole to very wealthy. People like the hill want wealth redistribution and see that as equality. White guilt allows dim witted libs to feel good about themselves while further sugibating minorities. Tareing down the system allows whites to feel good about themselves because they did something. The whites still run the new institutions and nothing changes for the minorities. People like the hill talk a good game but when it actually comes down to doing something put the tin foil hats back on and head back to their parents basement. It's all blah, blah, blah!

I feel such sadness for you when I read your comments. You attack religion and the bible and blame them as the source of slavery. St Paul instructs Philemon to receive Onesimus “no longer as a slave but as a dear brother”. Paul dissolves the slave/master relationship abolishes the assumptions and prejudices that make slavery possible. This is partly why so many ardent abolitionists have been Christians. You conveniently divide everybody into friends and foe. I have no oppressors. No group has power or control over me. Everything my family and I have, we have earned. We earned these things without having to rely on the kindness of anyone, white, black, yellow, big, tall. We worked hard and relied on ourselves and our belief in God. You are parroting the messages of those initiated in the religion of wokeness. Should you be held responsible for the sins of your racial group? I want to be on your side. I do. I want to fight racists. I think racist behavior is evil. I want to fight it with you. But I can’t! Lastly, why would you assume you are not one of the oppressors?

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