Suppose I’m a judge in state (government) S1 and, in the judicial system of this state, due to cultural and institutional factors that do not prominently include explicit bigotry or anything like this, those in the non-dominant ethnic groups are twice as likely to get a death sentence than are those in the dominant ethnic group. If I’m in this position, it seems morally objectionable for me not to speak out and do something (or this or that specific thing) about the situation or my connection to it. It is not just that speaking out and doing something (or some particular thing like organizing for change or quitting) is morally best, morally ideal, apt for moral praise (as supererogatory acts are).
However, such claims are less plausible if I am simply a citizen of state (government) S1. In fact: from this position, it seems that failing to react or do anything about the unjust conditions (that I am less directly a part of than from the position of judge), though not morally best (and perhaps a moral failure of some kind) is not morally objectionable. This points to some kind of boundary of degree or importance of participation in sustaining unjust institutional or social conditions that triggers moral obligation (and moral objectionability).
(We might say something somewhat similar about degrees or kinds of complicity, where complicity, unlike participation, has an essential element of knowledge, intention, implicit or explicit allowance or approval, etc. By contrast, I’m thinking of participation in purely causal terms and of the obligation as a function of actual conditions, not knowledge of them, belief about them, intentions, etc.)
So I’m wondering: to what extent do “the woke” (or “social justice warriors”) make the error of treating this sort of moral shortcoming (the sort that the citizen of S1 might exhibit) as if it were morally objectionable (and hence suitable for condemnation, outrage)? Compare: positively modeling and encouraging gender-neutral pronouns (on the basis of this being morally better than the status quo) versus requiring their use and condemning status-quo pronoun use (on the basis of status-quo use being morally objectionable). Regardless of the truth regarding what is morally objectionable here, I’ve seen both approaches (and I think there are also borderline cases – e.g., fostering atmospheres of social pressure and disapproval that fall short of clear moral condemnation or the condoning of such).
However, there is another, perhaps more relevant, context to consider: if some things are morally objectionable in a basic way (say, internal to the point and motivation in moral practice), perhaps other things (perhaps just more specific things, tailored to contexts, options in moral priorities, etc.) are morally objectionable because enough of us around here (with good enough reason, taking into account our context) have settled on being outraged and objecting when people do this or that particular thing. Perhaps, in this process of coming to consensus, ideally we reason with each other (and make reasons evident to each other via the gentler or more positive forms of moral suasion) to come to a kind of rational-enough and mutually-respectful consensus. But a morally-non-ideal shortcut here is treating one’s favored non-basic trigger for moral outrage and condemnation (where the line gets drawn here amongst the moral shortcomings) as if it were a basic, self-revealed fact – and getting on with the outrage and condemnation.
Such a move, despite being morally non-ideal, might not be morally objectionable in any basic way. But it seems to be morally objectionable from a (more morally aware or complete) liberal social perspective that prizes individuality, individual judgment and broadly rational persuasion. It might be that, in the context of these values and relevant circumstances, we are not to establish which specific things are apt for moral condemnation by simply dominating the conversation and condemning that which, according to our contestable sensibilities, we think should be condemned (it might be that such attitudes and behavior is worthy of condemnation, if liberal values are apt and we are committed to them).
Though (as is probably obvious) I lean into certain (broadly less moralistic or against-woke-tactics) answers here, my main point here is simply to present the relevant framework and ask the questions.