Francis Menton, Y ’72, looks at the concept of white privilege and argues that it should be defined differently.
There is â€œwhite privilege,â€ but itâ€™s not what you might think. The â€œwhite privilegeâ€ consists exactly in not being looked upon or treated like someone in need of a handout or ongoing help from the grownups. It consists of being forced â€” or maybe the better word is â€œallowedâ€ â€” to take responsibility in life, and to be an adult yourself.
Iâ€™m certainly not the first one to remark that members of minority groups who obtain positions in areas where affirmative action is prevalent â€” elite colleges and law firms being good examples â€” face downsides that may not have been immediately obvious to them when they got into this. At the college, you could find yourself struggling academically, and finishing at the very bottom of the class. At the law firm, you could be recognized as not up to the job within weeks or months of starting, and then being quickly turned back onto the job market without a good reference to help you. These are significant points to be considered.
But they are not the most important point. The past several weeks have shone a spotlight on the more important issue. That issue is what I would describe as the utter contempt in which the self-anointed elites of our country hold members of minority groups, most particularly African Americans. Somehow, these elites â€” or at least some very substantial number of them â€” have decided that African Americans are not capable of accepting personal responsibility in life or of being treated like adults. Therefore African Americans must be â€œhelpedâ€ by their betters to accomplish the very basics, like staying out of trouble or earning a living.
… then we have the question of â€œreparationsâ€ for African Americans, suddenly ubiquitous in the news. Are you an African American who is struggling to succeed in life? (Isnâ€™t everyone struggling to succeed in life?). We could say, man up and keep struggling until you make it. Thatâ€™s what adults have to do. But now we have a better idea: no need to keep striving; just take the seemingly easy route of claiming â€œreparations.â€ The cover story is that this will be an entitlement based on mistreatment of your distant ancestors. But letâ€™s face it, you arenâ€™t fooled by that. The unmistakable message is that the proponents of reparations have no faith that you have any ability to make it on your own as an adult. Therefore, you will not be allowed to try, and you will be treated as a child in permanent dependency on the government.
Who are these proponents of reparations? At Al Sharptonâ€™s National Action Network conference this week, a plurality of the Democratic presidential candidates showed up, and the Rev took the occasion to demand of each of them in turn whether they support this â€œreparationsâ€ thing. One after the other, they said they did: Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Beto Oâ€™Rourke, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julian Castro. Even John Hickenlooper! Would anyone say, I think responsibility-free handouts are not a good thing, and that African Americans adults are perfectly capable of making it on their own? Not in this crowd. They are deep racists, all of them.
At least so far, whites still have the privilege â€” and it really is a privilege â€” of not being treated by those in power with this kind of disdain. But donâ€™t count on it continuing. The entire agenda now going by the name of Democratic Socialism â€” free health care, free college, guaranteed jobs, guaranteed wages, protection by the government against all downside risks in life, etc., etc. â€” aims to take away everyoneâ€™s ability to be a self-responsible adult in life.
HT: Bird Dog.
Francis W. Porretto
The white American male is in point of fact the least privileged person in existence. He receives the least respect for his God-given rights. But we’re not supposed to mention that in our oh-so-enlightened age.
From: Socialism; a speech delivered in Faneuil hall, February 7th, 1903, by Frederic J. Stimson
“First, what is the best the socialists, in their writings, can offer us? What do the most optimistic of them say? That our subsistence will be guaranteed, while we work; that some of us, the best of us, may earn a surplus above what is actually necessary for our subsistence; and that surplus, like a good child, we may “keep to spend.” We may not use it to better our condition, we may not, if a fisherman, buy another boat with it, if a farmer, another field ; we may not invest it, or use it productively ; but we can spend it like the good child, on candy â€” on something we consume, or waste it, or throw it away.
“Could not the African slave do as much? In fact, is not this whole position exactly that of the negro slave? He, too, was guaranteed his sustenance; he, too, was allowed to keep and spend the extra money he made by working overtime; but he was not allowed to better his condition, to engage in trade, to invest it, to change his lot in life. Precisely what makes a slave is that he is allowed no use of productive capital to make wealth on his own account. The only difference is that under socialism, I may not be compelled to labor (I don’t even know as to that â€” socialists differ on the point), actually compelled, by the lash, or any other force than hunger. And the only other difference is that the negro slave was under the orders of one man, while the subject of socialism will be under the orders of a committee of ward heelers. You will say, the slave could not choose his master, but we shall elect the ward politician. So we do now. Will that help much? Suppose the man with a grievance didn’t vote for him?”
As I look at the “privileged” around me, it seems obvious that the privilege obtained by being intelligent holds far more sway than the privilege of being white. Barack Obama is privileged far more than a white labourer in Chicago. Why do we not in a similar moral snit make up for that privilege gap? One’s IQ is no more changeable than one’s skin color. And both relate to who your great ancestors were.
Perhaps it’s because those in charge of defining privilege are already privileged?
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