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Jonathan Haidt on the Rise of Intersectional Social Justice on Campus

“Everything is group vs group"

In The Coddling of the American Mind book, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt set out to solve a social science mystery—What’s happening to Gen Z?

The Coddling of the American Mind movie focuses quite a bit on the role of social media, the decline of free play, and what Greg and Jon call “The Three Great Untruths.”

But Greg and Jon’s story also includes six “explanatory threads.”

An undergrad named Mia calls “The Coddling” movie a “must-see” for anyone feeling lost at college. To help us reach more students (and enjoy bonus content), please consider becoming a paid subscriber.

There’s plenty more in this DVD Extra, but here’s some of what Jon has to say about the sixth thread, one that involves a new kind of justice: 

Those of us from the 20th century, we had this idea of social justice as knocking down walls and barriers and obstacles and bringing everyone in—African Americans, LGBT, everyone is welcome. Everyone should have equal opportunity. So this was justice for my whole life. 

But suddenly, in 2014, 2015, we have this new idea of justice based on an idea called intersectionality, which in its origin, and core is actually quite sensible, that identities are not just additive, that there are new features from combinations like being a black female. So the idea itself is perfectly sensible. 

But we have a whole chapter in the book on how it is that intersectionality became the foundation of a way of thinking, where everything is group versus group. Everybody, every group is ranked on power, privilege, prestige. Those who are up are bad, because they are the oppressors, those who are down are good, because they're the victims heroically fighting back. 

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