NEA Convention 2012: Social Justice Patriots

The highlight of this morning’s session was the first formal speech delivered to an NEA Representative Assembly by executive director John Stocks. Fiery speeches by the executive director were an annual occurrence under Don Cameron, but when John Wilson got the job he eliminated the speech in favor of coordinating the July 4th celebration (although it was more like Festivus than Independence Day).

If Stocks’ speech today is remembered for anything, it will be for calling the members of NEA by the term “social justice patriots.” In his view, these are people who love our country so much they see all of its flaws and work to fix them. They are people who fight against segregation, child poverty, racial profiling and violations of human rights.

He didn’t stop there, though. Social justice patriots also fight opponents of the DREAM Act and voter ID laws, CEOs who make too much relative to the 1950s, and big corporations (with the possible exception of Western Union, Bank of America, Target and AT&T). Oh, they fight Mitt Romney, too.

Liberals are entitled to their own version of Bible-thumping, but it was particularly unfortunate when I did a Google search of “social justice patriots” and the first entry to come up on a short list was the July 3, 1939 issue of Social Justice, the voice of Father Coughlin and the anti-semitic Right before World War II:

Why, we’ll make the Commies look silly when our SOCIAL JUSTICE patriots put their shoulders to the wheel. They’ll be routed and pushed back so fast they won’t know what happened to ’em. I just know we can do it.

True patriotism is not a political ideology of the Right or the Left. I’m certain of that because my hotel television gets both Fox News and MSNBC. If we’re going to serve up red meat on Independence Day, let’s put it on the grill first.