Earlier this week, one of our readers shared with me a Medium story written by Keri Smith, titled “On Leaving the SJW Cult and Finding Myself.”
A feminist and co-founder of Whitesmith Entertainment Inc., a talent management company, Smith explains her decision to abandon the Social Justice movement. It’s one of the more honest and thoughtful essays I’ve read in a while.
Smith clearly didn’t make this decision lightly. But it appears her choice to shed her “ideological prison” was motivated by two trends she’s noticed in “social justice warriors” (SJWs)--or, if you prefer, members of the “Regressive Left”--and the Social Justice movement:
- Social justice advocates show a religious-like intolerance for those with whom they disagree, which sometimes manifests itself in unbridled bouts of emotion:
“I see increasing numbers of so-called liberals cheering censorship and defending violence as a response to speech. I see seemingly reasonable people wishing death on others and laughing at escalating suicide and addiction rates of the white working class. I see liberal think pieces written in opposition to expressing empathy or civility in interactions with those with whom we disagree. I see 63 million Trump voters written off as “nazis” who are okay to target with physical violence. I see concepts like equality and justice being used as a mask for resentful, murderous rage.”
- The social justice ideology dehumanizes political opponents:
“How easy is it for ordinary humans to commit atrocious acts? History teaches us it’s pretty damn easy when you are blinded to your own hypocrisy. When you believe you are morally superior, when you have dehumanized those you disagree with, you can justify almost anything. In a particularly vocal part of the left, justification for dehumanizing and committing violence against those on the right has already begun.”
We’ve seen the endgame of such ideologies—or, as Smith suggests, such “cults.” Which begs the question: Is the Social Justice Movement really a quasi-religious cult? Smith believes it is, complete with indoctrination and religious dogma.
“The ideology is post-modernist cultural marxism, and it operates as a secular religion. Most are indoctrinated in liberal elite colleges, though many are being indoctrinated online these days. It has its own dogma and jargon, meant to make you feel like a good person, and used to lecture others on their ‘sin.’ “Check your privilege”- much like “mansplaining” and “gaslighting”- all at one time useful terms- have over time lost a lot of their meaning.”
Smith is not the first person to argue that there is a religious nature in the movement. NYU psychologist Jonathan Haidt, for one, has described it as an “extremely intense, fundamental social justice religion.” But Smith’s insights are unique in that her perspective comes as a former social justice advocate.
So what does life look like as a former “SJW”? Smith’s testimony on this point is telling (and quite lovely):
“Since shedding the prison of my former ideology, I have a renewed passion for reading, a newfound interest in philosophy, psychology, history and spirituality. Instead of trying to fix others, these days I try to focus on improving myself, which I can tell you is a *much* harder though less futile endeavor. I question myself daily. I try to make a gratitude list daily.”
[Image Credit: The Green Inferno-Worldview Entertainment]
Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Times.