Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

Where’s MY white privilege, dammit?

Self-loathing is an essential—perhaps THE essential—component driving the modern liberal psyche.

The concept of ‘white privilege’ was popularized by Peggy McIntosh in a 1989 paper written at Harvard University and titled, “White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack.” It was written as a personal, experiential essay, and it details 26 ways in which McIntosh’s skin color has been decisive in determining her life outcomes. This hugely influential paper has been responsible for the subsequent proliferation of a rigidly enforced theory of privilege throughout social movements and university classrooms. So central has this doctrine become to progressive politics, pedagogy, and activism, that to even question its validity is to invite the inquisitorial wrath of ‘social justice’ radicals. But it is for this very reason that it is important to subject McIntosh’s ideas to scrutiny. So let us return to the source and to first principles and unpack Peggy McIntosh’s knapsack…

Follows, a close examination of the tremendously large silver spoon ensconced in the gormless nitwit’s mouth from birth, a matter far more of wealth, social position, and access to a network of lofty connections than of race. She doesn’t seem interested in groveling apologetically for those things, oddly enough.

In other words, Peggy McIntosh was born into the very cream of America’s aristocratic elite, and has remained ensconced there ever since. Her ‘experiential’ list enumerating the ways in which she benefits from being born with white skin simply confuses racial privilege with the financial advantages she has always been fortunate enough to enjoy. Many of her points are demonstrably economic. One is left to wonder why, given her stated conviction that she has unfairly benefited from her skin color, there seems to be no record of her involvement in any charity or civil rights work. If she did take to the streets in support of some cause or other, she left no trace that I can see. Nor, as far as I can tell, has she spent any time teaching the underprivileged or working directly to better anyone’s condition but her own. Instead, she has contented herself with a generous six figure salary, and has not shown any particular eagerness to hand her position over to a more deserving person of color.

Very few of the people reading this article—whatever the color of their skin—will have even the vaguest idea of the comfort and privilege in which Peggy McIntosh grew up and to which she has since become accustomed. Nor will we have access to the world of opportunities that she has been fortunate enough to enjoy. But even though the lifetime of privilege McIntosh has experienced is almost certainly due to her wealth and not the colour of her skin, she nevertheless found a way to share this irksome burden with the illiterate children of Kentucky coal miners, the hopeless peasants of the Appalachians, poor single mothers struggling to make ends meet on welfare, and the vast majority of whites in the United States and throughout the world who never had the chance to attend Radcliffe or Harvard. She simply reclassified her manifest economic advantage as racial privilege and then dumped this newly discovered original sin onto every person who happens to share her skin color. Without, of course, actually redistributing any of the wealth that, by her own account, she had done nothing to deserve.

All of which means that pretty much anything you read about ‘white privilege’ is traceable to an ‘experiential’ essay written by a woman who benefitted from massive wealth, a panoply of aristocratic connections, and absolutely no self-awareness whatsoever. This alone calls into question the seriousness and scholarly validity of the derivative works, since they are all the fruit of a poisonous tree. But McIntosh’s hypothesis was eagerly embraced nonetheless, because it served a particular purpose—it helped to mainstream a bitter zero-sum politics of guilt and identity. This dark epistemology has quietly percolated through the universities and the wider culture for two decades now. It has had the effect of draining attention from a massive and growing wealth gap and it has pitted the poor against one another in public spectacles of acrimony and even violence. Even so, it was readily embraced by progressively-minded professors who might otherwise have had trouble squaring their thirst for social justice with their high six figure salaries. In the last decade, this dogma has come screaming out of the nation’s august halls of learning and into mainstream civil discourse (although to call most of what passes for discourse today ‘civil’ somewhat labours the definition). And, still, we are endlessly and forcefully reminded that to question this concept in any way is, in and of itself, racist.

That’s probably enough excerpting; it’s a deep, well-conceived and crafted piece which goes into some unexpected places and is deserving of a read in full. Good comments, too.

McIntosh’s unwelcome gift of the burden of her own misguided guilt, neurosis, and self-flagellation is one the world could have done without. Whatever happened to the notion of a becoming sense of gratitude, responsibility, and noblesse oblige as an accompaniment to the good fortune of being born into a life of wealth and privilege, anyway?

If we’re all going to have to shoulder the load of stupid PC-Progtard angst, though, I’m gonna have to insist that they lay off their damned appropriation of my culture: “The Language Police Want Y’all to Adopt the Gender-Neutral, Non-Sexist ‘Y’all’.” Help, help, I’ve been microaggressed!

Seriously, though, the idea of sensible people “uniting” with such useless skinbags for any purpose at all seems fanciful beyond even the wildest science-fiction these days. Not even something as cataclysmic as the events in John Ringo’s Posleen War series could do it, seems to me. I know that whenever a gaggle of ’em goes out to attempt a “dialogue” with the Posleen in hopes of finding a “peaceful resolution of our differences,” “compromise,” and “reconciliation” with them—and you know damned well they would—I won’t be making any attempts to talk ’em out of it.

(Via KT)

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3 thoughts on “Where’s MY white privilege, dammit?

  1. That was a long, drawn out, intellectually satisfying way of saying “She’s full of $#!^, and “The idea of ‘white privilege’ is just so much horsh…er, rose fertilizer.”

    Everything after that is simply an exercise in euphemism generation, i.e. b.s.

  2. Where’s MY white privilege, dammit?

    Ah… oops. I think you left it in my car the other weekend when we were out soaking up the, err, atmosphere – yeah, that’s the ticket! atmosphere! – at a few Gentleman’s Clubs.

    I’ll have to send it back to you via FedEx.

  3. White privilege my ass. I’ve had the privilege of having parents who worked hard and instilled that work ethic in me and my siblings. We have then had the privilege to work hard to get our education then move into the private sector and work hard for our living. Meanwhile, we’ve also had the privilege of making ends meet and managing and maintaining our households. Oh, btw, not all white people’s ancestor ever even owned a slave. I’d also like to know if a black person whose ancestors owned black slaves thereby got themselves some white privilege as well. Yep.. WP=BS (and a shit ton of it!)

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