The Return of the Privilege Police

Before we begin, I’m going to have to ask you to check your privilege as a literate person. Checked? Ok, we can continue.

It seems impossible these days to discuss any issue without being asked to check your privilege. Heaven forbid you have an opinion about something that has nothing to do with race; the privilege police want to ensure that you are made to care. Of course, it is important to consider the positions of others and the privileges that may influence the way we think (be they race, gender, class, the kind of family you were raised in, etc.) but this impulse has devolved into the absurd. Evidently the only way for a white person to check one’s privilege to an acceptable degree in 2017, for example, is to feel ashamed.

Recently, DNC chair candidate Sally Boynton Brown called on this shame to pitch herself for the job—a job she described as removing other white people from the conversation. “My job is to listen and be a voice. And my job is to shut other white people down when they want to interrupt. My job is to shut other white people down when they want to say, “Oh no, I’m not prejudiced. I’m a Democrat. I’m accepting.’” Sorry, Ms. Boynton, but none of that sounds very “accepting.”

“I’m a white woman. I don’t get it,” she said. Ditto. I don’t get why you think races shouldn’t be treated equally, giving everyone a voice. I don’t get why you want to divide instead of unite, and I don’t get why you think that’s your job. I don’t get why we shouldn’t love ourselves the way God, circumstance, or a roll of the dice made us instead of being ashamed of it.

The DNC isn’t the only organization focused on checking privilege. The website Casa Girl sells “Privilege Cards,” a “direct yet non-aggressive” way to tell people to check their privilege. The business card-sized cards feature check boxes to inform people which privileges they are revealing, along with a suggestion that said privileges be checked. The terrifying thing is that these cards sold out. We have gone from asking people to be empathetic to encouraging a racism witch hunt.

It will come as a surprise to exactly nobody that this is a deeply divided time in our country, but focusing on policing each other’s privilege only serves to make it more so. Being reasonable means being aware of our differences and understanding that we might see things from different perspectives because of them. Being reasonable means being empathetic to the circumstances of others. Being reasonable means knowing that being white, or male, or whatever else one is is only one facet of a person’s identity (one they can’t control) and shouldn’t demand that they feel shame or be silenced. Being reasonable is seeing people as people, not as merely a demographic group, and valuing them as such. Being reasonable is knowing that we’re not going to get stronger together by leaving anyone out of the conversation.

In America, anything is possible, regardless of color, gender, sexuality, or any other labels. Do some people have it easier than others? Yes. Ought we to be empathetic about that? Of course. But the relentless effort to privilege-shame others isn’t doing our nation any favors. If you’re nitpicking about privilege, then you’re not revealing that you’re “woke” or morally superior to others. You’re revealing that you need to check your hubris.

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  • Mack

    “Your attitude’s been noticed, comrade.” -Block warden to Yuri in DOCTOR ZHIVAGO.

  • SamHamilton

    I clicked on the link to the privilege cards and the wording on them doesn’t even make any sense. I have to assume they’re sold out because they’re being used as gag gifts or spoofs. Someone passing those out un-ironically needs to get take a chill pill.

  • Alexander Rawls

    The very real advantage that whites have over blacks is that people of all races don’t estimate just from our race that there is a very high risk of our turning out to be ruthlessly violent predator. For law abiding blacks this is indeed an extreme and very unfair disadvantage: that people who don’t know them have no choice but to lump them together with the rest of their monstrously violent and criminal race, but there is an easy way to end this unfair disadvantage.

    Just be much more thorough with our crime control, throwing ALL criminals of all races in jail and keeping them there. Then anyone of any race who you meet on the street or who comes in looking for a job, you know they are not a criminal because all the criminals are in jail.

    Unfortunately the large Democratic-Party-aligned majority of American blacks are trying to move in the other direction, seeking greater leniency for black criminals through their Black Criminal Lives Matter movement. Trayvon Martin, shot while committing attempted murder, Michael Brown, shot while committing attempted murder, Alton Sterling, shot while committing attempted murder.

    If Trump is able to follow through on his promise to help law abiding blacks by cracking down on crime then black lives will really be improved and the non-criminal black majority might finally switch parties back to the side that fought for their freedom 150 years ago. In any case, the only way to get rid of the only unfair hurdle in black people’s way is to get rid of the criminal blacks who make people justifiably wary of all blacks, and the fair way to do that is to get rid of ALL criminals.

  • DSmith2

    “Of course, it is important to consider the positions of others and the privileges that may influence the way we think (be they race, gender, class, the kind of family you were raised in, etc.)…” Um, no. No, it isn’t. When you say drivel like that, they win. You are part of the problem.

    • SamHamilton

      What’s wrong with thinking about the advantages we’ve had in life? I grew up in a loving, stable family, my basic material needs were met, went to a good public school, etc. Heck, even just growing up in the US is a huge advantage over other people in the world. These are all advantages I had over many other people, and that I didn’t have to do anything to achieve. Being cognizant of those advantages and understanding that others don’t necessarily have them is a good thing.

      • DSmith2

        The problem is that when you treat their “arguments” as reasonable, you simply fall into their trap. They are not interested in reasoned discourse and will use any attempt at same as a club to beat you with. Don’t be a sucker.

  • OccamsRazorburn

    Those cards are pure micro aggressions.

  • lightray9a

    The “privilege checkers” are simply wasting their time. Instead of wasting energy by resenting the situation of others, they should spend their energy making the most of their situation. The only fair thing in life is that everyone gets 24 hours in a day to do their best. Everything else is a crap shoot. Make the most of the hand you’ve been dealt.

    • DSmith2

      Hater.

  • Terenc Blakely

    Merely a step in the ongoing process of demonizing and ‘othering’ white people. When white people have been sufficiently dehumanized then confiscating their wealth and even their lives can proceed. It’s a time honored process whose ultimate goal is genocide. If you think this claim is overwrought, just research the various pogroms in history.

    What is unique in this case is that so many white people are working hard for their own destruction. Why?…. most leftists, especially the hardcore activists, have a deep rooted nihilism. They claim to be for ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’ but somehow their policies have the opposite results.

  • “Privilege” does not exist ex nihilo. It had to start somewhere with some people. I have no problem with others admitting to the world that my ancestors were more apt, more intelligent, more able, more sophisticated, and much more likely to come out on the winning side of any conflict with their ancestors. If they want to take it back 50 years, 500 years or 5,000 years I am up for that. The better team apparently won the privilege game and took home the trophy. The 2nd place team took home — well — 2nd place.

    If they say the game was rigged, then my ancestors were smarter than theirs and figured out how to rig the game and theirs didn’t. If they say my ancestors were more savage than theirs then that means theirs were weaker than mine. If they say there were more of mine, then that means that mine were simply better at understanding how to use the environment and technology to sustain a greater population. If they say that my ancestors were better geographically situated that means that they were better realtors, able to find and hold superior territory. If they say my ancestors had bigger, badder, and more destructive weapons that means than their ancestors were probably stuck in a stone-age existence for 10,000 years past their time.

    No matter how you slice it… they are making the claim for me that their ancestors could not quite hack it when it came to competition for the “privilege” of being on top. They were weaker, ineffective, and overall a fine example of Darwinism in action. Seems to me as if they are pointing the “finger of blame” at the wrong set of ancestors. I’d suggest they have a heartfelt talk with their grandma and grandpa and ask them why ~their~ grandmas and grandpas were so pitiful in the game of life.

    Now understand that ~this~ is how ~they~ see the world. This is what ~they~ are admitting happened. Unless, of course, they want to somehow claim that “privilege” just happened along one day from out of nowhere and someone picked it up off the ground and has been using it ever since. Should be an interesting and amusing read.

    • DSmith2

      But that’s exactly what they claim. That what they call “privilege” was obtained either unfairly or by simple luck. Hence they have a “moral right” to take it.

      • If they want to admit to having inferior ancestors who were not bright enough to not be taken advantage of, or just plain unlucky that is good enough for me. And it doesn’t say much for their current ability to “take” anything away from me. 🙂

  • Rick Caird

    I am not even sure what these people want you to do about any privilege they think you many have. They never really say. The implication is “shut up they explained”. It really is an attempt to stifle your speech in favor of someone else’s speech.

  • m a

    “I don’t get why you want to divide instead of unite, and I don’t get why you think that’s your job.”
    Because division creates factions which can be politically exploited.