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The Racial Poison of ‘White Privilege’

Let me share with you two items. The first of more consequence than the second, but both are revealing. First, this video has been shared across the web – it shows a candidate for DNC Chair expounding on her view of the role of a white person as head of the party:

Here’s the key quote:

I’m a white woman. I don’t get it. I’m pleased and honored to be here today to have the conversation. I’m so excited that we’re here. I am listening, because that’s my job. My job is to listen to the issues. My job is to listen and be a voice. And my job is to shut other white people down when they want to interrupt. My job is to shut other white people down when they want to say, “Oh no, I’m not prejudiced. I’m a Democrat. I’m accepting. My job is to make sure that they get that they have privilege.”

This is white “allyship” at its finest. You “listen” to the experience of the oppressed, and then use your power and privilege allegedly in service of their needs and demands. It’s still a white person seeking power, but they’ve been baptized in the cleansing waters of critical race theory and now wield the sword in the great social justice crusade.

Then there’s the second item — demonstrating how racial zealotry leads to sheer cruelty and malice. This comes courtesy of my friend Ken White, perhaps better known on Twitter as Popehat:

Mary Katharine Ham wrote a heartbreaking piece about giving birth to a child mere weeks after her husband’s tragic and unexpected death. And that was one woman’s response — a completely unsupported and unsupportable assumption that no one would have cared about Mary Katharine’s story “if it were a minority woman writing essay.” In other words, people only cared because of her “white privilege.”

I wouldn’t highlight one person’s response on Twitter if it wasn’t so representative of much of the discourse around white privilege. Every topic is racialialized, and every time it’s racialized, injustice is presumed. Honestly, you have to experience academic conversations on race to understand how truly unhinged they can be. 

Discussion of “white privilege” has gone from interesting and thoughtful to stupid and malicious at the speed of social justice. There is a fascinating debate to be had about the nature of “privilege” in America — including who has real privilege and how it shapes our nation — but we’re definitely not having it. Instead, we get presumptions, paranoia, shout-downs, and power plays. There’s no intent to persuade, only bully and shame. It may be the path to power for some, but it is most certainly not the path to peace, true justice, or real racial reconciliation. 

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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