White Privilege?

MN:
Although I hope this doesn’t offend anyone I believe that I’m sending it to people who will understand the message of this…it really is something to think about. Hope you are all fending well during our nation’s ‘Adjustment’ period. -MN

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

Sep 13, 2008 By Tim Wise

For those who still can't grasp the concept of white privilege, or
who are constantly looking for some easy-to-understand examples of
it, perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen, like
Bristol Palin, and everyone is quick to insist that your life and
that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a
right to judge you or your parents, because "every family has
challenges,"; even as black and Latino families with similar
"challenges" are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological
and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a "fuckin' redneck,
"like Bristol Palin's boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone

messes with you, you'll "kick their fuckin' ass," and talk about
how you like to "shoot shit" for fun, and still be viewed as a
responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather
than as a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in
six years like Sarah Palin did, (one of which she basically failed
out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a
community college), and no one questions your intelligence or
commitment to achievement; whereas a person of color who did this
would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only
got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town
smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a
state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of
the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be
president, and people don't fall on themselves with laughter;
while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and
constitutional law scholar, means you're "untested."

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words
"under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good
enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not
be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all,
the pledge was written in the late 1800's and the "under God" part
wasn't added until the 1950's; while believing that reading accused
criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution,
which you used to teach at a prestigious law school, requires it)
is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.
White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make
people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member
of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from
the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions
your patriotism or that of your family; while if you're black and
your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be
home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately
think she's being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers
and the work they do--like, among other things, fight for the right
of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an
end to child labor--and people think you're being pithy and tough;
but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and
18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class
she took in college--you're somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women, who don't

even agree with you on any substantive issue, to vote for you and
your running mate anyway because all of a sudden your presence on
the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women and
made them give your party a "second look."

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn't support

your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power
or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism; while
being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line
political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years

whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely
criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an
explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring
Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in
speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God's
punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still
think you're just a good church-going Christian; but if you're
black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin
Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks
are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the
history of racism and its effect on black people, you're an
extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked
by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking
you such a "trick question,"; while being black and merely refusing
to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O'Reilly means
you're dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual
and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has
anything at all to do with your fitness for president; while being
black and experiencing racism is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it
a "light" burden.And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could
possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with
George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is
skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and
the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because
white voters aren't sure about that whole "change" thing. Ya know,
it's just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of
the same, which is very concrete and certain.
White privilege is, in short, the problem.

JB:

Just another perspective

James:

A most absurd and biased invective; unfortunately, I’ve come to expect this from contemporary liberal thought. Perhaps the author of this rant should read Acts 17:26 and then blame God for “white priviledge.”

JB:
Acts 17:26 (King James Version)

26And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

Yes, God made one race — “of one blood all nations of men.”  Unfortunately, the heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things.  I think the context of the email is not to justify white privilege but to point to potential examples.  Is all this white privilege or is it economic privilege or is it gender privilege or is it brown hair privilege or etc?  Unfortunately, race is an easy mark for division and this election is more about noise versus substance.

James:
I honestly feel sorry for anyone who thinks this email points to examples of white privilege. When did we lose our sense of balance. The book of Proverbs 18:17 says: ” The first to present his case seems right, till another comes foward and questions him.” Are we questioning the validity of the arguments that this author presents or simply noding our head in ignorance with the masses?

RR:
In the interests of remaining as neutral as possible in a response, I am loathe to bring this up, but I must admit that there is a great deal of irony in indicating the author’s message is biased & invective, and then recommending that the author pursue reading in a religious text, knowing that many religious texts are intended to be biased (specifically, self-supporting biased) and invective (denunciating those that are not in the “in” group).

Also, I think all people have the responsibility to read a message and sort out the content from the delivery. If you’re just offended by the delivery, you should at least be able to respect the citations of actual thought chains & quotes, which if you follow below are generally grounded in exact, precise examples.

For example, you could argue whether you believe the lack of value of community leaders (lets take one of my favorites, Mahatma Gandhi, for example — who was entirely non-supported by the government and did all of his work “grass-roots”) is really something that needs to be touted as a weakness of character. I thank God every day for community leaders. I fully expect them to rise to the occasion to defend the rights of the underprivileged. After all, that’s what half of the non-profit organizations like the one I volunteer at are based on. Community response to governmental indifference, or worse some times, governmental oppression. I think we can all agree that some of the best faces of humanity are exposed when passion, not simple authority or privilege of role, drive a person to help out their fellow man.

In this light, I quote the Declaration of Independence (the surest word of the true founding fathers), in their recognition and encouragement of community leadership to ensure that the authority of the government shall not impede the rights of the people & to set in place the authority and responsibility to encourage, defend and pursue a change through “grass roots” efforts, by the people, to correct wrongs issued by the state…

when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them [all men]… it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

So if you want to refute the validity of the arguments, I suggest you take up arguments with the content, not the styling. I think that would be a fun excercise, actually, where we could all learn a little.

In other words, a rose is a rose even if it’s tone is a little angry and irritable. 🙂

cheers,

-rr

James:
Actually, there is no irony at all. The reality of presuppositionalism (which I happen to espouse) suggests that everyone comes to the table with biases; it’s really a matter of whether or not your bias is defensible. Neutral ground does not exist because both sides have presuppositions—Christians start with the authority of the Word of God and others start with the authority of human reasoning. If I as a Christian agree to “leave the Bible out of it,” then I am starting with someone else’s presuppositions and will not be effective. Instead I choose to start with the “ultimate argument” using the authority of the Word of God as my axiom.

As far as the author’s message is concerned, he is overtly biased against John McCain and Sarah Palin and unfortunately the bias is not defensible. The content conveyed in Mr Wise’s hyperbolic lamentations have almost nothing to do with being “white” and privileged. For example, Mr. Wise states:

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in
six years like Sarah Palin did, (one of which she basically failed
out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a
community college), and no one questions your intelligence or
commitment to achievement; whereas a person of color who did this
would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only
got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

Even if one were to stipulate that Mrs Palin’s academic history is accurately stated above, this argument is still at best an anachronism that seeks to conjure an illegitimate reaction. In the first place, the academic plight described above doesn’t necessarily depict a lack of intelligence or commitment to achievement. Furthermore, there is no reason to suspect that the quip about affirmative action would be the majority view especially in this age of relative racial harmony and enlightenment. Obviously further objections to this farce could be multiplied.

In another blunder of an argument, Mr. Wise asserts:

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words
"under God" in the pledge of allegiance because "if it was good
enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me," and not
be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all,
the pledge was written in the late 1800's and the "under God" part
wasn't added until the 1950's;


Rather than pen my own response to Mr. Wise on this point, I’m simply inserting Ann Coulter’s response as she has done an excellent job neatly disposing of this fallacious argument. I see neither a way, nor a reason to try to improve on her findings.

Liberals have indignantly claimed that Palin thinks the founding fathers wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, which is Olbmermannic in the sense that (a) if it were true, it’s trivial, and (b) it’s not true.

Their claim is based on a questionnaire Palin filled out when she was running for governor of Alaska in 2006, which asked the candidates if they were “offended by the phrase ‘under God’ in the Pledge of Allegiance.” Palin answered: “Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me, and I’ll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance.”

As anyone can see, Palin was not suggesting that the founding fathers “wrote” the Pledge of Allegiance: She said the founding fathers believed this was a country “under God.” Which, um, it is.

For the benefit of MSNBC viewers who aren’t watching it as a joke, the whole point of the Declaration of Independence was to lay out the founders’ breathtaking new argument that rights came not from the king, but from God or, as the Declaration said, “Nature’s God,” the “Creator.”

That summer, in 1776, Gen. George Washington — a charter member of the founding fathers — rallied his troops, saying: “The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves. … The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of the army.”

So Washington not only used the phrase “under God,” but gave us one of the earliest known references to the rights of the “unborn.” That’s right! George Washington was a “pro-life extremist,” just like Sarah Palin.

There is no disputing that a nation “under God” was “good enough” for the founding fathers, exactly as Palin said.

As I have hopefully demonstrated the silly nature of the particular arguments above I must contend that the "exact, precise examples" you suggest I should respect are simply more of the same vacuous argumentation. This BTW includes both content and delivery.

Since the author does not delve into the arena of "community leadership" or the Declaration of Independence, I will reserve comment on those topics for now.

TA:
Quoting Ann Coulter  to debunk fallacy has to be a unique class of irony. For the record I disagree with Ms Coulter’s interpretation of Palin’s answer to the questionnaire. But then again I disagree with the McCain campaign’s assertion that when he spoke his mind and said that the “fundamentals of our economy are strong”, he meant what he said. Not the revised “he was talking about the workers” nonsense. We live in a nation in which political discourse exists as if it is derived from completely different realities. Without objective fact, we’re just taking in circles. I’m an ardent supporter of Obama, but I know when he tried to revise his comment that “they’ll try to scare you because I don’t look like the folks on our money”, he was maneuvering politically because he was obviously talking about race, and that’s not a politically advantageous thing to do. Having faith in God is one thing, having faith in your political leadership is insane. So you can support McCain and Palin as it is your right to do so. But please don’t echo their talking points, that’s for the non thinking sort. You can like Palin because she has some qualities you think are admirable, but please don’t try to contend that she is any more intellectual or thoughtful than she is.

James:
And yet more of the same!

Your implied premise that Ann Coulter is a committer of fallacies and thus is an unsuitable person to use in debunking Mr. Wise’s fallacy (this is the most obvious reason for the irony you suggest) is an abusive ad hominem fallacy. Obviously the validity of her argument (that I quoted) has nothing to do with how many fallacies you feel she may have committed in the past, present, or future.

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