Wednesday, April 30, 2014

White Privilege

He’s 20, he’s white, and he’s a freshman at Princeton University.

According to the ethnic and feminist studies college students and professors who frequently and vehemently complain that this country is steeped in racism and sexism and is only fair and just and equal for white, heterosexual males – he is the poster child for so-called “White Privilege.”

His name is Tal Fortgang, and just eight months into his Ivy League experience, he’s been told on numerous occasions to “check his privilege” – a phrase that has taken social media social justice campaigning by storm.

It is meant to remind white, heterosexual males that they have it so good because they’re white, heterosexual males. They haven’t faced tough times, they don’t know what it’s like to be judged by the color of their skin.

Oh, but they do.

Those sick of being labeled are the very same ones doing it to others, and Tal Fortgang has a powerful message for them...
There is absolutely *nothing* I can add to what he wrote—except, as Instapundit said, “This is an eloquent response, but ‘don’t be an asshole’ is an entirely adequate one.”

Update, 5/5/14:  I don't have anything to add, but Joanne Jacobs does:
In the Columbia Spectator students Dunni Oduyemi and Parul Guliani wrote that Fortgang shouldn’t take “check your privilege” personally. “Recognizing the fact that white men benefit from the kinds of racist and sexist structures on which American society is built isn’t meant to diminish his accomplishments,” they write. “It’s meant to remind us that white men don’t have an inherent predilection for success — the odds have just been stacked in their favor.”

I think those two sentences contradict each other.  If the odds were stacked in his favor that diminishes his accomplishments.

And it ignores the real privileges he enjoyed: He was born in the U.S., healthy and intelligent, and raised by loving and supportive parents. That’s a huge advantage in life, but not one reserved for white males.
Sarah Hoyt has some thoughts, too:
Apparently there’s more to people than skin color, gender and orientation.  Who knew?  Oh, yeah.  Everyone sane.  Which is to say, none of the people telling us to “check your privilege.”
Update #2, 5/7/14Check your argument:
This ubiquity of “check your privilege” suggests that political correctness is now entering a second generation and gaining a second wind.  While political correctness previously concentrated on race and gender, the new focus on inequality seems to have emboldened the campus left to put class back on the list of identity politics.  Of course, using the phrase “check your privilege” to cut off debate on campus is not nearly as destructive as what communists did to people who were from the “wrong” class. Many children of privilege then were sent to reeducation camps to reflect or were even silenced never to speak again.  But it stems from the same impulse to replace reason with power.

This new form of an old disorder also shows that despite the orthodoxy on many campuses many left-liberals remain very afraid of classical liberal and conservative dissent.  Just as students who protested Condi Rice’s prospective graduation speech at Rutgers showed strength in numbers but weakness in intellectual confidence, so do those who parrot this new campus slogan.  If your underlying argument is flawed, you do need a force other than logic and evidence to sustain your position.  Political correctness is an admission of intellectual frailty.
Update #3, 5/8/14:  Yet another good point:
The point of Mr. Fortgang’s essay — the part that drives the Left to rage — is that such advantages as this particular young man from suburban Westchester County enjoys are much more the product of the sort of family he comes from, and the opportunities that they enjoyed in the United States, than they are of ethnic and sexual features.
Update #4, 5/9/14:


Update #5, 5/13/14:  "Check your privilege" is kind of an a-holish thing to say, so some of the responses in this piece are appropriate:
The proper response to the privilege gambit is laughter. The super-serious zealots of progressivism hate being laughed at, but there’s really no other appropriate response outside of a stream of obscenities. The privilege game is designed to circumvent arguments based on reason and facts and evidence, so the way to win it is to defeat it on its own terms.

Call: “Check your privilege!”

Response: “What you call ‘privilege’ is just me being better than you.”

They won’t like it. It will make them angry. Good. Because tactics like “Check your privilege” are designed to make us angry, to put us off-balance, to baffle us and suck us down into a rabbit hole of leftist jargon and progressive stupidity...

The plain fact is that what they understand to be “privilege” is really just what regular people understand is a “consequence.” It is a consequence of hard work, of delaying gratification and of sacrifice...It’s not a function of skin tone or the number of vowels in your name; it’s a function of character...

What’s particularly amusing when you push back on these clowns is that they are so surprised to experience resistance to their petty fascism. Many of them, being the special snowflakes that they are, have never had anyone express to them the notion that they might be wrong...

Check my privilege? I just did, and it’s doing great.

1 comment:

Jason Lee said...

More young people should be studying their family history. The people who built this country suffered all kinds of misery and persecution before they went on to create this land of opportunity. The snots who whine about privilege don't even understand what they're trying to tear down.