‘White Privilege’ is a bad idea for everybody
Recently, I was told that as a white, straight, English-speaking, able-bodied, Christian man (it gets worse – I am Catholic to boot), my type has had its day, and now it is time to cede power to the ‘Other’. To our PC society, this may sound like a good plan, but in truth, it is a pre-cursor to social disaster.
The notion of white privilege is predicated on the idea that society is ultimately entirely about power, and class or demographic conflict, in which there can be only winners and losers. And that’s no way to build a society.
So let me be as clear as I can be – this type of identity politics will destroy our civilization. We need to cut it out before it’s too late.
There are a number of reasons to laugh off the entire concept of white privilege.
Number One – Is white privilege even historical?
I don’t know if people read history anymore.
Being a white man was not actually that great in the 20th century. You probably lost your job in the Great Depression. You and your brothers and sons had a good chance of being wounded or killed in two world wars. And by century’s end, you were told you were the greatest force for evil human history had ever known.
Never mind Islamic terror. Never mind the Chinese cultural revolution. Never mind female genital mutilation in Africa and Asia. Never mind the tyrannies of Mobutu and Amin and Mugabe and Shaka and Mzilikazi.
Never mind that life-spans for white males are unbelievably in decline in North America, or that white working class boys in Britain have the least chance of getting a university degree of any other demographic. Or that white men have more chance of being shot by police than black men in the USA.
Yes, many whites are unbelievably privileged. But not all whites. And not all whites are privileged because of conquest. Many are privileged because they had good parents, or got lucky, or went to good schools. None of these things are sinful.
So, no, it is impossible to look at history and then conclude that only white, straight, Christian men have been anything but oppressors, or that they should carry some special burden for all the sins of history.
Number Two – No social group is exempt from evil
In the hierarchy of white privilege, white South African men are supposedly right at the top. We oppressed people of colour and women to become colonial overlords, the current thinking goes. But that is a gross simplification.
We cannot paint all white men with one brush any more than we should look at crime statistics and conclude that young black men are all criminals.
Yes, there is a context to South African crime – but there was also a context for whites who came to South Africa and how they lived while they were here. We all get caught up in history.
That does not mean we are not responsible for our individual actions.
Our environment, family, and culture have a huge role to play in which path we choose in life, and that is why we need to work to build a fabric of society that is ordered and healthy. That is why culture is important. But, at the end of the day, we all have rational souls which means we can and should take responsibility for ourselves – and not for our entire demographic group.
The Russian dissident (and one of the great, white, Christian, straight men of the 20th century), Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn noted, the line between good and evil does not run between nations, but down the centre of the human heart.
Good and evil know no skin colour or demographic. They war against each other in every human heart. And so individuals must be judged as individuals.
So there is really no such thing as white guilt or privilege. Some whites are guilty. Some whites are privileged. But not all. And not all privilege is a sign of guilt. Privilege is not a zero-sum game. Person A’s privilege does not imply Person B’s oppression. Not all property has been stolen.
And to assign guilt to anybody because of their ethnic identity is simply the very definition of racism.
Number Three – Identity politics does not, and cannot, have a happy ending
When you start dividing the world up into groups of victims and oppressors, in the long run, you will create a never ending division of group identity and thus perpetuate conflict without end.
Start asserting all whites carry privilege and guilt. But don’t expect white men to simply agree with you. In fact, given our human nature, all you will do is spur them into a kind of defensive solidarity. Is that what our society needs? Is that what you want?
The only way any society heals itself is when it allows for excellent people to come to positions of power and authority. The peace and trust of any society is such a tenuous thing – that’s why a country like Zimbabwe can destroy itself in a matter of years.
The wrong people with power is a short-cut to hell. And it’s much easier for the wrong people to get power when the identity politics game is being played.
We simply can’t afford to divvy ourselves up into groups, even if we have done so in the past. Yes, by all means, lean the priorities of the state towards the poor and the abused. They are objectively vulnerable in our world. But don’t pre-empt that prioritisation by asserting that only some people can be guilty or innocent, privileged or victimised.
Stop saying things like take white people’s land, or all men are trash. You’re not going to inspire the best in white men by doing that, I can guarantee you.
Rather, look for cases in which land has been taken from somebody and make restitution. Look for cases of rape and throw the rapist in jail. Don’t use those individual cases as a springboard to incite racial and gender ideological warfare.
When we deal in ideologies, people like Zuma come to power in the midst of the chaos.
Number Four – We all have to take responsibility
And finally, if you have any privileges of your own, the right thing to do is to be grateful, and to live in such a way that you earn your privilege so to speak by using it for good and by treating others how you would like to be treated.
And if you have been wronged, as all of us have been at some point, look for ways to take back control of your own life. Revenge does not give you control. It makes you weak. Yes, it would have been better if you had never been wronged. And yes, hopefully restitution can be made.
But, at the end of the day, we only have one life to live, and our lives work better if we do all we can to make them better. We all get dealt different hands. But we need to play those cards. Or what the hell are we still doing drawing breath?
Forget white privilege. Forget male privilege. Forget any kind of demographic privilege. It might sound good but it helps nobody. Take whatever privilege you have, and walk a heroic path of responsibility.
And before you do that, subscribe to my newsletter below and watch this funny video about white privilege in America: