Wednesday, December 21, 2016

John Rawls vs. Martin Luther King, Jr.

John Rawls, not Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), is the theorist/philosopher/author who most defines liberalism in the U.S. today.  President Clinton, just a decade after King's death, awarded Rawls (1921-2002) the National Humanities Medal saying he had been the most dominant figure in 40 years in shaping American thought.  In doing so, he moved us forever from King's vision of a community of love based on reconciliation, forgiveness, repentance and friendship to a "justice is fairness," but fairness as defined by Rawls, an atheist, and his followers without considering King's Bible based justice. Rawls believed that if we have consensus, and we can agree to disagree about life’s most fundamental questions, then hatred, bigotry, violence, persecution, and intolerance will be eliminated. As Dr. Phil would say, "How's that working out for you?" We've been at war the entire eight years of the Obama administration and most of the younger Bush administration. We've got riots, burning down cities, lack of participation in the labor force, ballooning student debt, regulations holding back job growth,  massive protests, laws about using bathrooms and locker rooms, and laws that put bakers and florists out of business for their religious beliefs. Tolerance, fairness, consensus and principles are just dictionary words to be learned so we can read an old history book.
"Today, Rawls’s theory—which defends the principles of egalitarianism, toleration, consensus politics, and societal fairness—informs much of contemporary liberalism’s aspirations, constitutional interpretations, domestic policies, and public rhetoric. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the principles behind such laws as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, are most thoroughly argued by John Rawls. Much the same can be said of the Supreme Court’s reference to the “evolving understanding of the meaning of equality” in the 2013 same-sex marriage case, U.S. v. Windsor. Rawls’s silent influence has been immense.

Rawls believes that by rethinking America’s first principles we can make our world better. The difficulty, as he sees it, is that American society is filled with many competing notions of the good life and therefore different views of justice. This, in turn, leads to conflict. Rawls’s resolution is to define a theory of justice upon which everyone could agree without having to give up their personal convictions about the good life."
So a man you've probably never heard of is influencing everything you think and do and the air you breath every day, and one you've learned about in school or watched on TV when he was alive has been all but forgotten.

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