Thursday, May 30, 2019

Do Liberals Who "Learn" About "White Privilege" Become Less Sympathetic To Poor Whites?

It would be in no way surprising.
Look, the whole point of "privilege" talk is to shift emphasis away from the disadvantaged and onto the non-disadvantaged. And the whole point of that is to criticize the latter. Specifically: in order to convince people that disadvantage is the fault of the non-disadvantaged, and that they benefit from it.
   One difference, IMO, between liberalism and progressivism is that the former was more interested in helping the disadvantaged, and the latter is more interested in criticizing the advantaged (or, at least: non-disadvantaged). It would be absolutely no surprise if "privilege" "training" generated anti-white, anti-male, etc. attitudes...that's what it's for.
   There's virtually no reason to prefer the "privilege" jargon over the tried, true, and more accurate talk of disadvantage and discrimination. A black person in the U.S. will, on average, be at a disadvantage as compared to a white person. Some of that's pure disadvantage--not particularly anyone's fault. Some of it's discrimination--which is usually (though perhaps not always) someone's fault. But the central theses specific to "privilege" theory simply aren't true: that every white person is complicit in all black disadvantage, and that every white person gains those disadvantages. Perhaps more importantly, as I've said from the beginning: not every black disadvantages can be accurately represented as a "privilege" whites have. If blacks are more commonly disenfranchised, that's not a white "privilege," it's a violation of the rights of blacks. And, though a problem of unfair privilege can be balanced out by taking away the privilege, violations of rights can't be fixed that way; you can't solve a problem of black disenfranchisement by disenfranchising whites.
   In general, progressivism is more interested in convincing people that men, whites, etc. suck and should be brought low (or lower) than that women, blacks, etc. are equal to them and should be helped up. It's a contentious, inaccurate, dopey bit of it fits well with the whole web of contentious, inaccurate, dopey PC jargon. It can seem merely like a trendy bit of jargon, but it brings along with it a tangle of confusions and dark, dangerous commitments.
   I don't think it's pure bad, incidentally. I think there's something to be gained by pretending that the problem is me having been granted a favor that you weren't granted. It's another way to mobilize our sense of fairness. That you are given an unfair disadvantage is abhorrent to me; that I am given an unfair advantage is abhorrent in a different, more personal way. It's worth thinking about, and in a few cases it's even accurate.
   But, anyway, "privilege" is just another stealthy leftist idea and bit of jargon: it can plausibly be represented as just a new way of talking about an old and uncontroversial set of problems--problems of disadvantage and discrimination. But it can then be rotated 90 degrees to reveal that it's neither uncontroversial nor innocent: it's actually rich with politically non-neutral implications. This is fairly standard for PC terminology, and it's one of the reasons the illiberal left is so damn obsessed with words: they really have become rather adept at constructing linguistic Trojan horses.


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