I’m not sure how often I’ve heard the term”privilege” thrown around at myself or others. I think I lost count somewhere back in 2015.
Like many others, whenever someone threw the term privilege at me — be it because of my skin, my chromosomal makeup, my sexuality, or my religion — I always got the feeling that the accusations were shallow. Thankfully, I was blessed with a drive for self-imposed education that drove me to some very simple conclusions.
For one, I realized that there really isn’t such a thing as “white privilege,” and that attempting to convince others that the concept is real is, in itself, a racist act. I’ve covered this in more detail in the past. I learned further that, viewed objectively, everything that determines the success you see in America comes down to choice.
For instance, I’m blessed with a caring family who instilled values in me that continue to benefit me throughout my adulthood, and I’m glad that I chose supportive friends that help me stay on a good path. While none of this was my choice, these were choices made by my parents and family, who chose to give me the best loving home they could despite some bad circumstances.
As far as personal decisions go, everything in my life could have taken a very negative turn at any moment. I had many opportunities to take the wrong road. I had friends who liked to steal and encouraged me to do so as well. I had friends who really liked drugs and would have used their influence on me to take me along for the ride as well. The doors to self-destruction were wide open, and while I didn’t always choose the correct door, I at least choose correctly enough to keep me out of catastrophic failure.
None of this is privilege. All of it is just good decision making, be it from my family or on my own. Any gifts I received or benefits I enjoyed from my upbringing didn’t just happen because I fell into the category of being white, straight, or what have you. It was choice I, or someone else close to me, made.
The products of good decision making are apparent, while the products of bad decision making are as well. For those unwilling to view the difference between decisions and circumstances, or who are trained not to, all they see is haves and have-nots. This creates a culture of pity and/or outrage, and causes feelings that some deserve more than others because of their situation. Rifts are created and people looking to get rich or take power widen the rifts for personal gain, creating a divided people.
Before I continue, I want to acknowledge that there are people born into better circumstances than others, but in America, you become whatever you choose in the end. I’ve watched as people born into wealth become destitute due to their unwillingness to maintain it. I’ve watched the dirt poor — and you hear stories like this happen all the time — become wealthy due to their drive and willingness to do what was necessary.
But this view of supporting the “have-nots” creates sacred cows thanks to the idea that it’s cruel to impede help to the disadvantaged in any way. Any criticism, no matter how legitimate, can be construed as a malicious attack. With legitimate criticisms out of the way, any agenda can be passed. Welfare can be distributed, social programs can be created, and groups can get away with doing things that other groups would be crucified for.
This creates a power structure by which the supposed “victims” and “have-nots” sit in a higher position on the social totem pole.
The creation of entitlement programs, mandatory diversity policies, and passes on social faux pas all stem from the idea that some groups of people deserve to have more to make up for the fact that they have less. If you belong to certain groups — white, straight, “cis,” etc — then even if you are in circumstances where you’re greatly disadvantaged, you still won’t receive the same benefits, because you’re perceived to be a beneficiary of your race, sex, etc.
For instance, there are few scholarships exclusively for white people, because this is viewed as racist. Scholarships for black people, however, are abundant, and prospective black students even enjoy an additional 230 points to their SAT scores to various Universities, in order for those Universities to increase the diverse look of their student body.
This power granted by government is definitely a privilege. Furthermore, the power to be as cruel and divisive as you want in accordance with social approval due to your perceived lesser status is privilege as well.
For instance, the current situation that Jack Phillips of the Masterpiece Cakeshop finds himself in is only happening because the LGBT community finds itself in a position of social privilege that Phillips, a Christian does not share. If the roles were reversed, and Phillips was attacking a gay baker for refusing to make a cake that ran against the gay baker’s beliefs, Phillips would have been laughed out of the public square if he wasn’t tarred and feathered first.
However, he withstands consistent attacks that have the support of local governments and the media at large because he is viewed as a “have,” or an “oppressor” because of his status as a middle-class white male Christian.
Anyone who views the Masterpiece Cakeshop saga with more than just a surface-level analysis can see that the LGBT activists coming at Phillips are purposely malicious, and are attempting to punish Phillips for the simple act of not abandoning his beliefs in order to bow before their status as a protected class.
What’s more, it’s not even really about Phillips in the long-run. In reality, Phillips is a message to everyone else who falls into his category. “Obey your social superiors, or else.”
We fought brutal and bloody wars to end that kind of thinking, both on foreign shores and domestic. Yet here we are again, staring at the same enemy who has done little more than put on a different hat.
Everyone will never truly be equal. Human nature and individual drives will never allow this. However, attempting to create sacred cows in order to make up for the fact that some have had a rough time of it isn’t the path to better equality. The concept of fixing this, “social justice” only creates inequality in so many different ways.
Equality of opportunity, not outcome is true equality. One allows for the rewarding of better choices, once gives people little or no choice.