The term ‘social justice warrior’ is usually a pejorative hurled at those who hold socially progressive views, particularly those who take their views to extremes.
But there is genuine injustice in American society. A host of groups have been oppressed for too long due to their gender, sexual orientation, race or other categorizations. Protecting the civil liberties of these groups has usually been a task of the left or the minority of libertarians on the right.
Now, that task falls to Donald Trump.
The Trump campaign ran an ad during the Super Bowl that featured formerly incarcerated drug offender Alice Johnson, who was granted clemency by the president in 2018.
Two Super Bowls ago I was sitting in a prison cell.
Today I am a free woman and my story was featured in a Super Bowl Ad.
I will spend the rest of my life fighting for the wrongly and unjustly convicted!
God Bless America! pic.twitter.com/CGSyk54O37
— Alice Marie Johnson (@AliceMarieFree) February 3, 2020
‘Alice Johnson was sentenced to serve life in prison for a nonviolent drug offense,’ read the text on the commercial underneath a photo of Johnson. ‘Thanks to President Trump, people like Alice are getting a second chance.’
‘I get to hug my family. I’m free to start over,’ Johnson says in the ad during video footage of her release from prison. ‘This is the greatest day of my life. My heart is just bursting,’ she adds.
‘I thank President Donald John Trump,’ Johnson exclaimed emotionally to cheers from her family and supporters.
While Johnson’s video played, the ad overlaid text that read, ‘Politicians talk about criminal justice reform. President Trump got it done.’
He has. The president signed the First Step Act into law: the most important criminal justice reform in decades and no doubt what his campaign was referring to in the ad. Racial minorities and particularly African Americans have been some of the most long-suffering victims of the US’s draconian mandatory minimum laws, which put non-violent offenders behind bars for sentences far longer than they deserve. Alice Johnson was one such victim.
President Trump tweeted as the ad aired Sunday night, ‘I promised to restore hope in America. That includes the least among us. Together, let’s KEEP AMERICA GREAT!’
What is social justice if not fighting for ‘the least among us?’ President Trump deserves praise for the ad and his admirable position on this issue.
Of course, Trump was instantly criticized for the ad. Some pointed out that Trump’s immigration policies separated families at the US-Mexico border. Fair argument, perhaps. But is that a reason not to reunify other families torn apart by our tragic drug laws?
Other liberals noted that Trump only granted Johnson clemency after criminal justice reform advocate Kim Kardashian West asked him to. So? You still want to bash Trump for doing the right thing anyway? That makes zero sense. If it leads to more good decisions, let’s hope that West and Trump team up more.
One angry former South Carolina Democratic representative, Bakari Sellers, tweeted, ‘That ad was offensive AF,’ calling it the ‘I freed a Negro’ ad.
Seriously? Civil rights litigator and author Michelle Alexander has rightly called America’s mass incarceration system the ‘new Jim Crow‘. Trump has tried to change this modern system of oppressing black Americans, and some liberals believe he shouldn’t do because they don’t like the optics?
Which leaves us with an interesting question: does the modern left care more about pursuing social justice — or just being on the other side of Donald Trump?
Left-leaning CNN pundit and criminal justice reform champion Van Jones gets this right. Jones has taken a lot of heat from his fellow progressives for praising Trump and the Republican party for taking the lead on this important issue.
‘The conservative movement in this country, unfortunately from my point of view, is now the leader on this issue of reform,’ Jones said at the 2019 Conservative Political Action Conference. ‘Republican governors are being tough on the dollar, tough on crime and shrinking prison populations…they’re stealing my issue!’
‘The conservative movement in this country…is now the leader on this issue of [criminal justice] reform,’ Jones added. ‘Take some dadgum credit for being smart. Take some dadgum credit for getting it right.’
President Trump took credit for it during the Super Bowl. As he should.