By JR on Tuesday, March 28, 2017
More on privilege
I have written previously on white privilege and privilege generally. I pointed out recently that the "white privilege" concept is racist -- very similar to Hitler's thinking about Jews. In both cases we see hostility to people purely on the basis of their race.
I also pointed out here that privilege is that is not random and is generally earned. As an example I offered an example of "Jewish privilege" being thoroughly earned. Apropos of that one might note the flyer below that was being circulated recently at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Privilege discourse has a continuing malevolent life.
But I think I need to say a little more about what might be called "unearned" privilege.
Some privilege is plainly inherited. If you have inherited wealth that is undoubtedly a great privilege. But is it really unearned privilege? Someone earned that wealth. And their choice to pass that wealth on to a descendant rather than give it to the stray dog's home was a choice they were entirely entitled to make.
One may deplore that privilege can be gained by inheritance rather than by personal exertion but that is a somewhat separate issue. In many places, swingeing inheritance taxes have been enacted to knock that on the head but various destructive results of doing that have mostly led to the taxes being withdrawn or greatly reduced. But whatever you think of it earned privilege can be gained by inheritance
And there is such a thing as group privilege. If you belong to a certain group, some favourable or unfavourable expectations may be held towards you. There is, for instance, no doubt that a white car-driver pulled up by the police in America will be much more likely to survive the experience than a black driver would be.
But that too is earned. Why do blacks cop so much bad treatment? It is perfectly clear why. Blacks are hostile to the police so the cops are hostile to blacks. It's tit for tat. No doubt some people will argue that the cops started it and blacks are simply retaliating but I don't think that is so. It is very commonly reported that blacks resist arrest, sometimes very vigorously. Many blacks do not "go quietly". And that is a big problem to the police. It makes them nervous of blacks and resentful towards them.
Cops are always going to be quite reasonably on hairtrigger alert when approaching a black and that trigger will sometimes be inappropriately pulled through no fault of either party. Making cops fearful and nervous of you is seldom going to end well even when neither party has ill intent.
So the behaviour of many blacks is going to rebound on all blacks to their disadvantage. They gain a negative privilege. But it is again earned. Others like you have earned it for you. It is easy to deplore that but deploring it is about all that you can realistically do. But deploring it will get you nowhere. To change anything, you have to go to the root cause of the privilege/anti-privilege. And that may be unalterable.
So railing against privilege generally will simply be a condemnation of deep-rooted inequalities in society. And attempts to erase inequalities have a history of ghastly outcomes.