Book Review: 'How to Make a Social Justice Warrior' by William Shetterly
About William Shetterly
Author William Shetterly has the unique distinction of having proven death threats from both the Ku Klux Klan and anti-racism social justice warriors. His family’s home was threatened with arson during the Civil Rights era while he was personally threatened for creating one of the first black female comic book characters with its own comic book.
His personal view is that classism is a much greater problem than racism, sexism and so forth is in line with his Marxist beliefs but makes him a repeated target for those called “Social Justice Warriors” or SJW. That is what led to the writing of the book "How to Make a Social Justice Warrior”. The book is subtitled: On identitarianism, intersectionality, mobbing, racefail, and failfans 2005-2014.
Pros of The Book “How to Make a Social Justice Warrior”
Mr. Shetterly has a very short and realistic explanation for how social justice warriors are created. They call attention to an injustice, blame the injustice on the group it appears to favor while assuming this will magically lead to action by the other person to not only stop the thought patterns they disapprove of but also act in a way the social justice warrior or SJW wants.
Language policing of others for using racist/sexist/phobic language is a short cut to actual social improvement because it lets someone feel good for criticizing others but not actually doing anything else; it readily descends into bullying. The author explains the social justice warriors using calls of “privilege” and “racist” as a heckler’s veto wrapped in an aura of “justice”. Merit and logic are irrelevant – the value of the opinion and its inviolability are related to the number of identity chits the speaker or writer has.
William Shetterley gives an excellent analysis of the eight symptoms of cults and their relationship to Social Justice Warriors. For example, those who question the group’s stereotypes of themselves or “the other” are directly pressured or pushed out. The shared illusion of unanimity through the silencing of dissent in the group is created via self-censorship and quick, angry condemnation and thought-terminating cliché to end all debate. Self-appointed mind guards protect the group from adverse information; too many SJWs apply this concept to the entire internet.
Question global warming model accuracy and their deviation from real world observations and the revision of actual historical climate data, and you’re not engaging in scientific debate; instead, get labeled a “denier”. Question whether affirmative action is unnecessary today or whether the emphasis should be on improving impoverished schools both those in inner cities and full of poor whites and be labeled a “racist”. Question the supposition that all rape victims are believed, despite evidence to the contrary for a number of cases from the Duke lacrosse case to Lena Dunham’s case blaming a mustached Republican who did not exist, and you’re considered a rapist yourself.
Like all religions, it has a founder as well as disciples and holy book. Derrick Bell, Kimberle Crenshaw, Tim Wise and Peggy McIntosh’s book “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” It has its articles of faith like all whites are inherently racist, all men are sexist. The social justice warriors engaging in these activities know that their economic privilege is forgiven and thus feel entitled to their economic privilege.
The author brings up the fact that cults can be secular, such as therapy cults. According to the book, “The Culture of Cults”, therapy cults promote a secular belief system, based on quasi-scientific or quasi-scientific principles.
The author of “How to Make a Social Justice Warrior” says that they pursue ideological perfection, crating a guilt and shame milieu by holding up standards of perfection that no human being can accomplish. People are punished and punish themselves for not living up to the group ideals. He thoroughly details how social justice warriors are similar to secular cults.
Mr. Shetterly states that social justice warriors believe in the Sapir-Whorf theory of linguistic relativity. Words affect thought, so if we make everyone use the right words (and ban the wrong ones), the world becomes wonderful. For example, eliminate gender-specific terms like salesman to eliminate sexism. This theory goes to insane extremes like demanding the terms brown bag lunch get renamed due to “racism”.
One of the strengths of the book is short and straightforward evidence for many statements. For example, he gives less than one page on the proof that Sapir-Whorf theory of correcting society by correcting the language as utterly and completely wrong. The Sapir Whorf theory is disproven by nations with gender neutral languages like Iran and Turkey but low gender equality, as well as the Global Gender Gap having three nations with a natural gender language in the top five with the lowest gender gap. In summary, Iceland has gender equality but a gendered language, while Iran has a genderless language and a poor record on women’s rights (and human rights).
The book contains an excellent list of very legitimate reasons to be psuedononyous.
The dictionary on the thought terminating clichés of radical social justice warriors shouldn’t be necessary, but it is valuable. For example, the term “internalized misogyny/racism” means you disagree with the SJW, so they say you’ve internalized the evil view and have been blinded by it, just short of calling you a traitor. Check your privilege and your privilege is showing means your social identity will be held against you if you disagree with identitarians. A TERF is a trans-excluding radical feminist, a feminist who thinks cis-women and trans-women have different social identities, so feminist groups can or should exclude trans-sexuals. Or, given how most transgenders are men (80%+) and don't have the surgery (fewer than a quarter do), transgenders entering women's spaces are overwhelmingly biologically intact men in women's clothing demanding privilege over women.
The author readily brings up historical sidebars relative to the discussion, such as the Jewish Indian Chief Don Solomono and “white Indians” like Simon Girty. You’ll learn enough about many interesting exceptions to historical trends like this to spend a few hours on Google reading about them.
This book names a number of relatively unknown stories, minority science fiction authors and conservative authors who need more ink / bytes expanded on them. This is the first place I’ve heard of the book "The Wild Blue and the Grey" by William Sanders, a Native American and alternate history/science fiction author who is ignored because he considers himself a true blue redneck.
Learn interesting side bits like Elizabeth Moon’s status as a single mother and military enlistment as an officer in the Vietnam War or Sam Delaney’s unusual status as a gay black sci-fi author. This book is in part a history of famous science fiction authors, in part to his personal friendship with Octavia Butler.
This is the only book I have seen to date that details the attempted take over of the SFWA, the “Sad Puppy Campaign”. It does an excellent job of describing the impact of the political correctness and censorship in the science fiction world, both for how several major authors were treated badly for minor flubs or politically incorrect statements and the downright persecution of several people for taking a stand on their views in the face of an online SJW mob.
Mr. Shetterly freely quotes from an amazing array of figures, from Charlton Heston to Dr. Martin Luther King to Buddha to Salman Rushdie to George Carlin to many Marxist leaders. Yet Will Shetterly is quite quotable himself.
This author’s advice on how to survive an online mobbing in the last few pages is invaluable.
Excellent Quotes from the Book
Warning: mobbing is legal, work with caution.
Choose your group carefully; you will conform.
Your community can make you more extreme.
The right to offend is the heart of free speech.
When people with agendas act offensively, they can be acting effectively. Nasty comments giving readers a more negative view of the content commented on.
When the price of community is conforming to what you reject, the tension between being true to yourself and wanted to be accepted is unbearable. Most people who are mobbed will conform or flee.
There's no room for reason in a riot.
Warriors have trouble imagining that in the 1960s, black Southerners could be middle class or white Southerners could be poor.
When a black man can murder his white wife and escape punishment like any other rich person, the race war has effectively ended. (In reference to the O.J Simpson trial)
In groups that bully, members prove their worth by bullying others.
In the US, if you're broke, you lose your upper middle class white privilege when you move to a working class neighborhood.
If you treat someone as an equal, you are not being racist; equality includes being able to say your equal's analysis is superficial.
There are two types of mobbers, haters who want to abuse and threaten you, and concern trolls who want to enlighten you. Concern trolls can be treated like evangelists at the door. Haters will threaten you and sometimes try to get you fired.
The tendency of the bullied to become bullies may be related to capture-bonding, aka Stockholm syndrome.
In critical race theory, power + privilege = racism, so only white people can be racist. This
assumes black people don't have power. So Condoleeza Rice, Oprah Winfrey, President Obama and Colin Powell don't count.
It is racist to assume someone is racist because they're white.
For social justice warriors, the most important act of faith is to check their privilege. It is like the Christian's confession.
Outrage is Google juice, and outrage junkies need their daily spike.
Cons of the Mr. Shetterley’s Book
The author is an unabashed Marxist. While Marxism has been tried and failed in every attempt to implement it around the world, he does see everything through the lens of class struggles.
To quote the author: “The anti-racist community that consists of mostly middle class and upper-class folks who are very concerned with privileges of the privileged; they want the top of the pyramid to be as diverse as the bottom. But I want to level the pyramid. So I can't be their white ally. Some day, they might notice that their injustice is greater than they think.”
Our society is more socially mobile than he gives it credit for, but I agree that multi-generational poverty is a problem that isn’t fixed by endlessly arguing over vocabulary.
The book “How to Make a Social Justice Warrior” is a unique appraisal to the problem of Social Justice Warriors invading internet forums to shut down discussions they think should be censored and the broader threat to free speech posed by those who believe free expression should be suppressed for the unattainable dream of a perfect society.
Whether you are a science fiction and fantasy author or a comic-con fan, interested in understanding why social justice warriors act as they do and the views that motivate them or what to do when their wrath hits you, the book “How to Make a Social Justice Warrior” is worth your time to read.