“Check your privilege” has emerged as a term of derision and dismissal used by radical leftists to both attack opponents and avoid confronting the substance of arguments. If you somehow missed this essential essay on the folly of the phrase, take a moment to consider it. The author, Princeton freshman Tal Fortgang, shares how the meme has been used against him:
The phrase, handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness, and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung. “Check your privilege,” they tell me in a command that teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world.
Some of the more extreme uses of the phrase include MSNBC host Touré Neblett telling Holocaust survivors to “check their privilege” before opining on public policy. Then there’s this Twitter thread where two black professing feminists tell a white woman that it’s impossible for her to be raped, because she’s white. Most recently, Salon contributor Brittney Cooper tells us that “privilege” produced mass shooting perpetrator Elliot Rodger:
How many times must troubled young white men engage in these terroristic acts that make public space unsafe for everyone before we admit that white male privilege kills?
The lunacy knows no bounds. PolicyMic, a publication recommended by Touré, has a piece detailing how the new Godzilla film is “a major failure” on account of “oversimplified female and minority characters.” It’s now racist to tell stories with white male leads.
It can be tempting to respond to such nonsense in one of two ways. We may choose to ignore what Hot Air associate editor Noah Rothman calls “the ‘privilege’ movement,” dismissing it as silly and not worth our attention. Or, we may be tempted to limit our response to calling out the “privilege” police as bigots.
The “privilege” movement is silly, and its police are bigoted. But that’s only where our consideration should begin.
The bigotry of the “privilege” movement is more than offensive or socially inappropriate. The bigotry of the “privilege” movement fuels a public policy agenda which aims to encroach upon individual rights. That makes the movement dangerous. Its adherents ought to be shunned with greater social censure than that brought to bear against Donald Sterling. They should be shunned like criminals. How else should we regard people who have declared their intention to throttle our lives, deprive us of liberty, and seize our property?
It’s time for these looters to check their privilege. Before opening their mouths to express further idiocy, they should consider how their lives subsist on the productive effort of those they seek to destroy. Indeed, the idea on the surface of the “privilege” meme, that people should take stock of how their worldview may be distorted by their unjust receipt of unearned benefits, proves wholly legitimate. The “privilege” movement has merely reversed its polarity.
It’s the spoiled brat women’s studies major whose institutional mind rot is subsidized through public universities, public grants, and publicly guaranteed loans who ought to check her privilege before daring to rail against the producers whose confiscated wealth make her consumption possible. It’s the committed socialist who seeks to fix prices, limit commerce, and redistribute wealth who ought to check his privilege before running out of other people’s money. It’s the looters among us who bask in privileges sustained by the exploitation of innocents who ought to check their privilege before the rest of us get motivated enough to rescind it.
This “privilege” movement and the would-be apparatchiks promoting it through institutions of education, media, and government need to be opposed as strenuously as skinheads, and for the same reason. Instead, we have allowed them to claim the moral high ground in the political discourse. They hijack language and deflect criticism by successfully projecting their own qualities upon scapegoats like “white male privilege.” Consider this excerpt from Cooper’s racist rant at Salon:
I am struck by the extent to which Rodger believed he was entitled to have what he deemed the prettiest girls, he was entitled to women’s bodies, and when society denied him these “entitlements” he thought it should become the public’s problem. He thought that his happiness was worth the slaughter of multiple people.
Pot, meet kettle. How dare a purveyor of racism and sexism who would weld the force of law to mandate racial preferences feign a shudder at someone else’s sense of entitlement. Cooper may not want to slaughter people, but stands plenty willing to use force to satisfy her own sense of entitlement. The difference is a matter of degree.