The favorite political tactic of the left is to convince people who can be grouped by race, gender, age, sexual preference or some other characteristic that they are victims. Once people view themselves as victims two things happen: 1) they immediately have someone other than themselves to blame for their circumstances, and 2) they can be easily manipulated by politicians who claim to be looking out for them. Victimhood is an effective political strategy for liberals. After all what individual whose circumstances in life are less than he might like wants to blame himself for those circumstances? What person wants to admit that the choices he has made in life have had much to do with his lot in life? It is always easier to blame someone else for our misfortunes.
Consequently, people at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder represent fertile ground for the politically-motivated purveyors of victimhood. For example, crying “racism” is a well-worn tactic of liberals who stay in office by hypocritically pandering to minorities. Sexism is another tactic favored by the left. After all, women represent a substantial portion of the American electorate. But charges of racism and sexism are beginning to lose their effectiveness because of overuse. When liberals began referring to successful black Americans who adopt conservative views as racists—thereby putting black conservatives in the same category as the hooded bigots who lynched their forbearers—their credibility began to suffer. Similarly, the obvious advances of women in the workplace and American society in general have let the air out of liberal windbags who are constantly whining about sexism. These facts have left liberals short of political ammunition. But never fear. Nobody is better at finding a nefarious new twist on a tired old strategy than the left. Consequently, the left’s current flavor of the month for the victimhood snake oil it pedals is white privilege.
White privilege is a concept that encourages minorities to believe that: 1) they cannot possibly succeed in America because mean-spirited white people have unfair advantages—advantages that will always hold non-whites back, and 2) the only way minorities can hope to get by in America is to rely on the good graces of liberal politicians who will ensure that a benevolent federal government takes care of them. The sexist subset of white privilege is—big surprise here—white-male privilege. Thinking people will see a few problems with this latest twist on the left’s victimhood strategy.
One obvious problem with white privilege is that the concept is misnamed. The supposed advantages of white privilege can be more accurately attributed to wealth than race, and there are wealthy people of all races in America. If simply being white gives Americans insurmountable advantages in life, why are the majority of welfare recipients white? If white people are so privileged, why are most homeless people in America white? If white people are so privileged, why are there more white people living in poverty than people of any other race?
On a personal level, when I was a youngster being raised by an uneducated single mother who could manage nothing better than part-time, minimum-wage jobs, I did not feel privileged. When, as children, my brothers and I went without meals, we did not feel privileged. When the second-hand clothing items my brothers and I got from the bargain box at the beginning of each school year were held together by tape and patches by the end of the year, we did not feel privileged. When my grades and test scores qualified me for entrance into well-known, highly-rated universities but a lack of money forced me to begin my college career working my way through the local junior college, I did not feel privileged. Enough said on the personal side. I am sure there are plenty of white Americans out there whose personal stories on this subject are better than mine concerning how nonsensical the concept of white privilege really is.
Before proceeding further, a few words about the privileges of wealth are in order. It is certainly true that wealthy people—not just wealthy white people but wealthy people of all races—are able to give their children advantages those of us who are less favorably endowed cannot. Of course, liberals whine about the privileges of wealth too and they do so while personally taking advantage of those very privileges. For example, while President Obama—whose net worth is more than $10 million—condemns the wealthy, he sends his children to one of the most exclusive, most expensive private schools in Washington, D.C. My problem with this scenario is not that he sends his girls to good schools. All parents should do the best they can for their children. Rather, my problem is with the hypocrisy of the president and other wealthy liberals who condemn wealth while enjoying it privileges to the fullest.
For wealthy people to use their wealth to give themselves and their children advantages in life is a good thing. Only a fool would do otherwise, and those who resent the advantages of wealth would do well to learn a simple but valuable lesson: Life is not fair—it never has been and never will be. Stop envying the advantages of the wealthy and start doing what is necessary to improve your own life. Further, the very people who condemn the wealthy for taking advantage of their assets would do the very same thing if they were wealthy. Finally, to condemn the wealthy or anyone else for taking full advantage of their assets is like condemning an NBA player for being tall, an operatic tenor for using his voice, or an Olympic runner for using his speed. All people should use whatever gifts they may be endowed with, and others who are less endowed should not condemn them for doing so.
I will admit to harboring an almost genetic resentment of people who inherit their wealth. Many people who have risen up out of poverty feel this way. On the other hand, l admire those who earn their wealth through hard work, entrepreneurship, innovation, and effort. However, when I find myself resenting the advantages of inherited wealth, I have to remind myself that: 1) life is not fair and nobody ever said it would be, and 2) I can sit around feeling sorry for myself or I can do the best I can with what I’ve got. The former course is the one that liberals want people at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder to take, but the latter course is the one that will allow them to build better lives for themselves.
Examples abound of successful people who began life in what we now refer to as disadvantaged circumstances. Study the background of the world-renowned neuro-surgeon Dr. Ben Carson: semi-literate single mother; poor-quality, violent public schools; and daily exposure to the worst the mean streets of inner-city Detroit had to offer. Yet Dr. Carson overcame the disadvantages of his youth to become world famous in his field and is now considered a viable presidential candidate. Dr. Carson’s is just one of thousands of such examples of disadvantaged people who refused to let their circumstances hold them back. Had Dr. Carson allowed himself to be seduced by the victimhood snake oil pedaled by liberals, he may not have even finished high school.
One final note on the concept of white privilege. One of the reasons Asian immigrants have done so well in America is that they have not bought the victimhood snake oil of the left. Asian Americans I know—successful entrepreneurs such as Dr. Paul Hsu about whom I have written at this site—don’t even care if there is white privilege or any other kind of privilege at work in America. If these things actually exist, my Asian American friends simply add them to the list of obstacles they have to overcome. Then they go about the business of overcoming these and any other obstacles that might stand between them and a better life.
Asian Americans typically overcome the obstacles they face by confronting them squarely and doing whatever is necessary to go over, around, or though them. Their tools in doing this are hard work, education, entrepreneurship, innovation, perseverance, and a steadfast refusal to make excuses. This is the American way, something pandering liberals have either forgotten or never learned. Instead of giving Americans at the lower end of the socio-economic ladder a hand up, liberals want to give them an excuse. What a shame—not just for those who are seduced by the victimhood snake oil of liberals, but for America.