Liberty Matters

A Better Definition of Justice


In considering our varying views of systemic racism and Critical Race Theory in America and its impact on health and education, I uncovered this quote from Abraham Lincoln’s Address at a Sanitary Fair, Baltimore, Apr. 18, 1864
The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name—liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names—liberty and tyranny.
Theories of systemic racism and Critical Race Theory are inherently political, with the goal of shifting political power and economic benefits from one group to another in the name of justice and equity.  John Sibley Butler does an excellent job tracing the intellectual history of these theories from their scholarly legal origins to their use in academia today.  A “closed-system” worldview is easily manipulated into justifying government intervention to take from the “haves” and give to the “have nots.”  Butler rightly asserts that America still has the liberty of planting new trees or systems.  Being shut out from one system can lead to strength and autonomy generated in the excluded group wise enough to believe in themselves.  
Graboyes elegantly illustrates the complexity of racism and disparities in America, showing how painful issues of historical injustice can be cynically used to tyrannically suppress freedom of speech and thought within the healthcare professions while seeking to balkanize medical care itself.  His example of racially based algorithms in providing treatment for COVID infections is terrifying.  What could be more dangerous to our domestic peace and cohesion as a nation than to further inflame racial divisions and animosity between Americans?  Lincoln’s words resonate still.    
Furthering the dystopian view of the American future is Black’s presentation of “woke Math” and the deepening erosion of American educational standards.  Children condemned to failed school systems, corrupt administrators, and disengaged teachers regardless of race are to be rescued, not manipulated for political gain.
America is still in need of a good definition of the word liberty – and justice.  What we see of public policies born from systemic racism and Critical Race Theory smack more of tyranny.