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.
If the theory of “white privilege” is true, these black criminals are the real victims and those whites whose lives they destroyed were actually the victimizers, for in the absence of “white privilege,” these black rapist murderers would have been decent, law-abiding citizens.
Last summer, Delby “Shorty” Benton, an 89-year-old white, World War II veteran, was jumped and beaten to death by two black teenagers in Seattle.
If the theory of “white privilege” is true, then Benton’s murderers are the real victims and this WWII hero was the victimizer, for in the absence of “white privilege,” these thugs would’ve been decent, law-abiding citizens.
On Christmas Eve, 2010, in Houston, a 12-year-old white boy, Jonathan Foster, was kidnapped, bound, and killed by way of a blowtorch courtesy of a 44-year-old black woman, Mona Nelson. His remains were discarded in a ditch along the side of a road.
If the theory of “white privilege” is true, then Nelson was the real victim and young Foster was the victimizer, for in the absence of “white privilege,” Nelson would’ve been a decent, law-abiding citizen.
Last year, a 99-year-old white woman, Fannie Gumbinger, was greeted by a 20-year-old black male intruder in her Poughkeepsie, New York home. Gumbinger was subsequently murdered. Police say she died of “multiple injuries.”
If the theory of “white privilege” is true, then the black man who beat Gumbinger to death was the real victim and Gumbinger was the victimizer, for in the absence of “white privilege,” this robber and murderer would’ve been a decent, law-abiding citizen.
In my hometown of Trenton, New Jersey, back in 1992, black career criminal Ambrose Harris carjacked Kristin Huggins, a young, white female. Harris carjacked Huggins, and while she pleaded with him not to deprive her of her virginity, he sodomized her. While begging for her life, Harris put a bullet in the back of Huggins’ head and left her body in a shallow grave.
If the theory of “white privilege” is true, then Harris is the real victim and Huggins is the victimizer, for in the absence of “white privilege,” Harris would’ve been a decent, law-abiding citizen.
The 18th century philosopher David Hume remarked that many an absurd theory has taken refuge behind high levels of abstraction.
To this list we can add the theory of “white privilege,” surely one of the most absurd positions of them all.
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 email@example.com or friend him on facebook. You can also follow him on twitter.