End the duopoly

LeBron James and the Narrow Tribalism of “Social Justice”

Is the NBA’s cave-in to China really all about the money? When LeBron James speaks up about perceived injustices here in the United States but urges silence against a foreign dictatorship that is running concentration camps, is it a case of the NBA “bowing at the altar of the almighty Chinese yuan,” as Los Angeles Times sportswriter Bill Plaschke puts it?

Maybe. But I suspect there is also something deeper going on. As with the collapse of the Women’s March into tribal infighting, we’re seeing another example of the narrow, parochial form that so-called “social justice” has taken.

LeBron James came in for particular criticism because only a few months earlier he had tweeted out a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” And now here he was, not caring about injustice if it happens somewhere else and urging us to stay silent about things that matter.

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Yet that quote from King actually highlights what’s going on—because it’s so obviously counter to the spirit of today’s “woke” politics.

Today’s “social justice” politics no longer trades in such broad, uplifting, universal ideals. It’s not about recognizing the universal brotherhood of man and wanting to live in harmony with one another. It’s about recognizing “privilege”—a constant search for evidence that somebody, somewhere, is more privileged than someone else and must be torn down for it.

Identity politics is by definition narrow, parochial, and tribal. It is about obsessing over one’s “identity” as a member of a very particular victim group, fighting for the prerogatives of one’s group, and declaring one’s hostility or indifference to everyone else.

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