Justice for the oppressed, is at the heart of liberal, progressive and socialist morality. And while it is a noble enough cause, it has become the solo cause of liberalism, the one fundamental pillar to which all others must bow. In the process the definitions of both "justice" and "the oppressed" have undergone various changes bringing us to this point.
The oppressed were first defined as those deprived of their rights, initially defined as the underclass. This gave the upper middle class intellectuals and lower ranked European nobility a noble seeming goal, to uplift the impoverished, while also giving them muscle in the form of lower class mobs that could do their dirty work. The bloody results of this combination were all too clear during the French Revolution as the liberal upper class wrangled and debated and signed execution orders, while the mobs could be counted on to cry for more heads.
Quieter versions of those same battles were being waged in the United States as well, whether it was John Adams' showdown with Jeffersonian sympathizers of the French Revolution via the Alien and Sedition Acts or Thomas Paine demonizing Washington as a tyrant or Aaron Burr seizing New York by opening up the franchise through a clever loophole and some financial chicanery. American liberals naturally sympathized with the French Revolution, though they parted company with the Reign of Terror and its absolute state control, that they themselves feared and resisted.
The French Revolution however was nothing more than a rehearsal for the Communist revolution that took the Age of Terror to a whole new level, still rooted in that same basic premise of liberating the underclass through a campaign of terror against their upper class oppressors combined with hard line state control over all aspects of life to ensure the classless society. Communism was the logical end result of liberalism's oppression with liberating the underclass. And like the French Revolution it had the sympathy of American liberals who agreed with its aim and its program, if not always its tactics.
By that time American liberalism was coming to accept the premise of the French Revolution that the Jeffersonians had not, that centralized state control was required to insure the freedom of the "oppressed". The Great Depression opened the door to turning theory into reality as FDR came to power with a mandate to do anything to restore the country's fortunes and promptly began centralizing, nationalizing and regulating everything in sight. By his death. America was heavily regulated from the top down, a member of the UN and had been rebuilt, often undemocratically, along the lines of European socialism, rather than the old more libertarian Jeffersonian liberalism.
Prosperity in the wake of WW2 increasingly began to make the focus on liberating the economically underprivileged seem absurd, as regulated capitalism proved that it could provide a high standard of living for all Americans. Along with that came the changing nature of American immigration that with the fall of the Iron Curtain and the devastation of Europe was steadily growing more oriented toward minorities. In the latter half of the 19th century, immigrants had made up the new wave of the "oppressed", but those immigrants had at worst been Catholic or Jewish. Racial minorities represented a new challenge for the Democratic party.
The Democrats who had long held a racist platform because of their position straddling major Eastern trading cities such as New York that depended on Southern slave labor before the Civil War and economic undeclasses that consisted of poor whites and immigrant groups that resented minority competition, found their urban working class support slipping away into suburbia while having to compete with a new generation of pragmatic Republicans free from the elitist stigma of the party with a great deal of appeal in their own midwestern and southern strongholds.
Like a chameleon, the Democratic party shifted by shifting the focal point of the "oppressed" from the traditionally economically deprived working classes, to minority groups. Liberal progressives had long felt stifled by Democratic party racism, even as they watched Republicans and then American Communists outmaneuver them on race domestically, spearheaded the growing transition and fought the internal battles in the party war. The true narrative of the Civil Rights movement was that it was a Civil War fought within the Democratic party.
This transition however was followed by the same fallout the Democratic party machine had constantly suffered throughout the 19th century as it worked to gather in a new immigrant group, only to find that the immigrant group didn't simply want to be patronized, its activists wanted to rule. The Democratic machine had experienced this with German immigrants and the Irish, Jews and Italians. Now it would experience this with Blacks throughout the 70's, culminating in the usual integration of leading activists into the party machine that usually followed such shakedowns.
Fusing the narrative of economic oppression into racist oppression, Democrats became the party of race, creating racial tension and promising to heal it, in the perfect protection racket, just as the leaders of the French Revolution had unleashed the mobs and then offered themselves as the only ones who could control the mob. It was a cynical game that liberals had been playing some time on both sides of the ocean, but their usual pawns had been the poor, now it was to be racial minorities.
Opening the door to redefining oppression also meant a constant search for oppressed groups to welcome in. The party paid lip service to the idea of women as an oppressed group. Gays slowly gained acceptance within the party as another oppressed group. Neither however would receive anything more than token ideological support as like Jews they were unable to provide the key requirement for an oppressed group, social immobility. The Democratic party had been too badly burned by the erosion of their economic underclass oppressed base to take seriously any group that was economically capable. What the traditional party of the plantation wanted most was plantation underclasses, groups that could be kept dependent, provided with incentives that only further isolate them and foster their dependency.
Many liberals however, never having entirely recovered from the perceived ingratitude by black Democrats directed their energies toward creatures that couldn't talk back to them, animals. Animal rights provided many of the traditional objectives of fighting for the underclass, in that animals were notably helpless and oppressed, they were however unable to vote which prevented them from being particularly useful in party politics. Nevertheless representing the animal kingdom proved to be lucrative with the rise of the Earth movement, which combined the old socialist love for One World politics and centralized regulation, their suspicion of the big industries which had ended the era of Southern slave labor and of course provided plenty of opportunities for graft and personal profit via recycling and various Green businesses.
With the War on Terror, Democrats rediscovered Muslims, who were small in number, but could easily be included as an oppressed group and poster children for traditional liberal anti-militarism and the Democratic party's reflexive hostility to any military effort carried on by a Republican administration.
Today the Democratic party ideologically embodies a strange coalition of oppressed groups, or rather their self-proclaimed advocates, doing their best to bridge a yawning gap between working class Americans, urban minorities, polar bears, gays, Muslims and women. And while this is practically unfeasible, liberals have successfully built up an unreal image of themselves as the defenders of such a rainbow coalition, promising Americans a Utopian society devoid of disharmony, bigotry or inequality-- even while pursuing a disharmonious unequal society precisely in order to perpetuate the divisions that attach these groups to them in the first place.
The pursuit of maintaining and creating an underclass has turned the Democratic party into a "Cult of the Oppressed" and has led the party to chase after increasingly exotic oppressed groups. As the party has embraced illegal aliens and Muslims as two of its latest groups, the destructive nature of this pursuit has become all too obvious. Liberal morality is built on fighting for justice for the oppressed and that tunnel vision combined with cynical political calculation has led Liberals to fight for terrorists and criminals, unwilling to see the damage this is doing to their country and the very system of government they are fighting to control.
Any goal taken to its farthest extreme becomes destructive, and liberal goals are no different, as both the French Revolution and Communism proved. Today liberalism insists on destroying the bastions of freedom in the name of the groups they consider oppressed, without considering the welfare of everyone else and pretending to ignore or dismiss the impact of their actions while ideologically distorting the consequences to match the imaginary vision of their utopia.