That this tweet from Richard Dawkins was greeted with swift outrage was predictable. The surprise, at least I found it somewhat surprising, was that much of the outrage came from people who do not seem to understand that "social justice warrior" means something very different from "social justice activist" or "social justice advocate."
Many of those reacting negatively to what Dawkins tweeted thought he was disparaging social justice entirely, which of course, he was not doing. "Social justice warriors" are not working for social justice; they are arguing about social justice on the Internet, calling people who disagree with them names, and dogpiling. Their efforts are not designed to foster social justice but to boost their own status within their small community.
In the recent post to which I linked above, I wrote:
To confuse "social justice warriorism" with actual social justice work is a mistake that will lead to misunderstanding.And now we are seeing a clear example of just such a misunderstanding. Dawkins is now being attacked on Twitter for opposing social justice. Many of the critics do not seem to be social justice warriors; they are people who do not know what the "social justice warrior" term means.
The good news is that this sort of misunderstanding should be fairly easy to avoid. Learn what "social justice warrior" means and be prepared to explain it to those who are still confused. Many of us value social justice and advocate for a number of social justice issues while simultaneously being disappointed in the behavior of social justice warriors. And a key reason why is that we see their behavior as undermining social justice.
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