But Some Are More Equal Than Others
It is a basic law of nature that if you debate enough SJWs eventually you will be told to “check your privilege”. The basic premise of this ever so cleaver argument by the left is that if one happens to be born white/straight/male/advantaged in some other way you will not have the same experiences of discrimination, oppression, prejudice as someone less fortunate to you and therefore are lacking in the perspective that this brings. As such, you should show your awareness of this fact by “checking your priviledge” when ending discussion or debate that touches on these issues.
As is often the case with the arguments of the progressive left there is actually nothing especially incorrect or even wrong on the face of this. In my own case, having come from a rather privileged background it is true I have never personally experienced many of the things someone from less fortunate means than myself would have. I’ve never faced prejudice or real discrimination (unless we’re counting the occasional snarky jab at my Jewish ancestry by neo-Nazi types on social media). I’ve never known what it’s like to be poor; I may have been on a bit of a tight budget during school and my first few years in the workforce but I always knew if things got really tough I had family to fall back on financially. These are things I have no first hand experience of and as such I should be aware of this given that willful ignorance is weakness that none can afford.
Inevitably, however, it is not the basic premise but the conclusions the left draw from them. In their hands, the request to “check your priviledge” ceases to be a philosophical acknowledgement of the limits of all of individual experiences and instead becomes a war cry used to silence all those who voice dissent to their worldview. Progressives wield it like a weapon against their opponents, undermining their very right to speak out on the basis that since their perspective comes from a position of priviledge it is somehow invalid and not worth hearing (and do note that straight white cis-gendered males who agree with our modern day Social Justice Warriors are never told to “check their priviledge” when they speak out in support of them on these issues – ignorance it would seem is fine so long as it is on the right side).
Doubt the existence of systemic racism? “Well you have no idea what it’s like to be black in America so check your priviledge and shut up!” Express skepticism that college campuses are hotbeds of sexual assault abetted by rape culture? “You’ve never experienced what it’s like to be a woman living under patriarchy, check your priviledge and go away till you’ve learned something.” Feel uncomfortable with gender neutral washrooms? “You’ve never experience life as a transperson, CHECK YOUR PRIVILEDGE!”
Of course, when pressed on this our aspiring Robespierres of modernity will deny that they are seeking to silence anyone but merely are pointing out that those who have never experienced discrimination or prejudice first hand are necessarily ignorant of such things and should acknowledge this and defer to those who have…which essentially comes down to the same me thing. These enforcers of the regressive left may begrudgingly be granting the right of their opponents to hold a different point of view, but in the same breath imply that those who oppose them only do so from ignorance and were they properly informed they would promptly shut up and fall in line.
Not only is this argument intellectually dishonest, ignoring that there are multiple sources of knowledge other than personal experience and that even if one has never personally undergone dincrimination or prejudice they can still be informed of the subject and have something to add to the conversation, it is also one that is built upon sand. Look no further than myself. I’m a mixture of Russian Jewish, French Catholic, and Britsh Protestant, with a touch of Native Canadian and Mongolian added in for the chaser. Am I white? If I’m only part white does that partially priviledged part of myself cancel out the non-white portion? Asians have higher percentages of university attendance and lower incarceration rates than their white counterparts today, does that make them more priviledged? For my generation, which is increasingly interracial and adheres to the old generalizations less and less, the very concept of “white priviledge” is one that is all but obsolete.
Ultimately, this obsession with priviledge is simply pointless bickering that detracts from the broader conversation, and is just anothe tactic by a movement that cares more for feelings and facts to bully and intimidate its opponents into silence and submission. How dare someone tie the validity of my ideas or the worthiness of my arguments to the colour of my skin or the ethnicity of my ancestors. The left understood this once, but like so much else it has been forgotten. Either we are all individuals and judged upon our own merits and flaws or we are not. There is no middle way.