“Privilege” is a key concept in our politics in recent years; someone summed up the 2016 election as progressive voices lecturing white Americans about their inherent privilege when many of those white Americans didn’t feel privileged at all, watching jobs disappear, health care costs rise, meth explode in their communities, and so on.
Perhaps it’s worth reexamining the concept of “privilege” in light of the abominable revelations about Hollywood producer and donor Harvey Weinstein. The extensive allegations of reprehensible behavior, going all the way to include sexual assault, and continually escaping any consequence beyond veiled jokes at the Oscars and on 30 Rock would seem to define the wildest conceivable example of privilege. It’s a twisted, modern droit du seigneur; as the powerful, widely-connected, wealthy financier, Weinstein felt he was entitled to treat many women in an entire industry as his personal harem, and apparently many of his co-workers and staff agreed, or were unwilling to object.
Besides Weinstein’s staff, his many media friends apparently didn’t want to look at the allegations too closely, and law enforcement and prosecutors just could never quite find sufficient evidence to bring charges. He was walking personification of injustice, a decades-long demonstration that if you had enough money, enough powerful friends, and enough high-priced lawyers, you could more or less do anything you wanted to anyone without any serious consequence.
This… makes the recent complaints about “privilege” of various groups of Americans look like pretty weak tea. We’re really supposed to see some shoe salesman in Des Moines as excessively entitled or enjoying some unjust benefit, in a society like this? We’re supposed to listen to the Democratic Party’s leaders and Hollywood stars, the two groups who most warmly embraced Weinstein, on the question of who’s “privileged” and who’s unjustly benefiting in American society today?