The idea of “white privilege” has made the news recently. The truth, though, is that it has been a fetish of leftist academics for quite some time.
“White privilege,” as one sage puts it, “is a form of racism” that’s “predicated on preserving the privileges”—by which he means the “social and economic benefits”—of whites. Because “white privilege” is maintained via “hegemonic structures, practices, and ideologies,” individual whites “do not necessarily intend to hurt people of color,” even though “they inevitably do.”
So, white privilege is all about “preserving the privileges of white people” by way of those white privilege-producing things that “reproduce whites’ privileged status.”
That the definition of “white privilege” is rigged from the outset to paint all whites as victimizers and all non-whites (particularly blacks) as victims can be seen by its viciously circular reasoning. But it is also, necessarily, highly abstract. Once, though, we make concrete its implications, its ridiculousness is exposed.
Statistically, blacks, say, have far higher rates of criminality than do whites. This, it is held, is a legacy of “racism” or “white privilege.” Of course, raw numbers, in and of themselves, go zero distance in establishing anything. Inter-racial statistical disparities no more signify injustice than does the fact that there are statistical disparities between the rates at which men and women are struck by lightning indicate injustice.
Back in 2000, Reginald and Jonathan Carr, two black brothers, beat, tortured, sexually humiliated, and robbed five white victims: Jason Befort, Brad Heyka, Aaron Sander, Heather Muller, and a woman known only as H.G. The Carrs repeatedly raped the women before shooting all five of their prey in the backs of their heads and driving over their bodies in a stolen pick-up truck. H.G. was the lone survivor.
If the theory of “white privilege” is true, then the Carrs are the real victims and those whose lives they destroyed are the victimizers, for in the absence of “white privilege,” the Carrs would have been decent, law-abiding citizens.
In 2007, in Nashville, Tennessee, a young, white couple, Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, were out on a date. They were carjacked, abducted, raped, and murdered by five blacks. Newsom was sodomized and shot. His body was wrapped and set on fire. Christian was raped anally, orally, and vaginally. She was forced to ingest bleach as to remove traces of her assailants’ DNA and stuffed alive in garbage bags. Over the span of hours, she gradually suffocated to death.
Jack Kerwick received his doctoral degree in philosophy from Temple University. His area of specialization is ethics and political philosophy. He is a professor of philosophy at several colleges and universities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Jack blogs at Beliefnet.com: At the Intersection of Faith & Culture. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.