Tribal Privilege Warriors
I wasn’t all that aware that Social Justice Warrior had become an insult until a recent series of comments on The ArchDruid Report. SJW seems to have derived from young game-playing males defending their online culture, where women are fair game for abuse. An October 2015 article by the Washington Post clarified the timeline: Why ‘social justice warrior,’ a Gamergate insult, is now a dictionary entry:
… the word came into the mainstream during Gamergate, an online backlash against progressive influence in gaming which cannot be described neutrally in one sentence. Its supporters say the whole thing was really about ethics in gaming journalism, but the movement gained widespread attention for a subset of Gamergate’s supporters, who conducted several troubling harassment campaigns against women in gaming and journalists.
As happened with the word liberal, opponents – Tribal Privilege Warriors, if you will – began to use what was a neutral word as an insult. If you recall classic schoolyard bullying tactics, the alpha isolates anyone that seems different and vulnerable, comes up with an insult – fatty, four-eyes, mama’s boy – and repeats it over and over until even the target’s friends think of him or her as Fatty.
Granted, many groups assign nicknames, and some nicknames skirt the boundaries of insult. One of my wife’s nephews was known as the DeafMonster, which made fun of his disability while acknowledging his size and strength. But SJW is not meant to acknowledge any virtues.
In the case of SJW, the implication is that the target is a hypocrite: mouthing socially-positive, politically-correct platitudes while actually enjoying the benefits of tribal privilege. An older term was limousine liberals, white people who visited the ghetto to talk about lifting blacks out of poverty then hopped in their limos back to the gated community.
Barack Obama’s final State of the Union speech struck me as the President trying to make the case for continued social justice, reasoned discourse, and mutual understanding while denying that we are facing a declining economy. On the tribal side, Trump and Cruz are taking advantage of economic doldrums to propose authoritarian reinstatement of white privilege.