The potential rewards for ending the mistreatment of those deemed ‘different’ are many. Power differentials based on gender, tribe, colour, ethnicity, religion, language, ability (or disability), sexual orientation, age, and nationality have all been the cause of serious injustice. While patriarchal systems continue to treat women as lesser human beings, ethnic strife remains easily stoked. Discrimination can cause considerable hardship at an individual level, by silencing and denigrating those affected. But collective discrimination that effectively targets an entire category of people can be the cause of systemic, ingrained social injustice. The formation of the United Nations stemmed directly from the Holocaust and other deadly injustices committed in the name of collective discrimination during World War II. Yet, inequality reinforced by injustice continues to be a global reality, pushing people to the margins and predetermining their life’s trajectory - whether it is labourers from South Asia toiling in the Middle East, Muslims in East Asia being subjected to inhumane treatment, or Black Americans being systematically denied the right to vote. Such destructive identity markers have and will continue to be levelled at people simply for being “different.” The legacy of slavery and incomplete efforts to address lingering systemic racism in the US helped spawn the Black Lives Matter movement - which has in turn galvanized people around the world to confront the marginalization and persecution they face at home. While legal systems may have been constructed with equal rights in mind, the actual realization of these rights requires considerable policy support - including affirmative action measures designed to redress historic injustices and check the continued marginalization of people in public life based on perceived differences. In terms of rhetoric, at least, progress has been made towards greater inclusion. Yet, social justice will only be achieved if carefully designed safeguards are constructed to protect against the episodic use of identity markers - especially in the political sphere - to encourage majorities to stoke the politics of fear. The potential rewards of ending persecution and marginalization are many - enabling, for example, societies to benefit from the entire spectrum of human talent, and to not have to rely solely on those who happened to have been born with the “right” identity markers.
Persecution and Marginalization
Demands for Justice