Phi Beta Cons

Michael Munger Reflects on “White Privilege”

Among the reasons why our higher education system is so dysfunctional is that students and faculty members so often get by with silly slogans when they confront opposing ideas. Right now, the slogan of choice is usually “Check Your Privilege!” The implication is that if you are white and male, whatever you say must be wrong because you’re “privileged.” It’s no different than the way the Marxists used to dismiss any opposition by attributing it to the speaker’s “bourgeois class” origins.

In this excellent Learn Liberty piece, Duke University professor Michael Munger reflects on “white privilege.” He writes, “the concept of ‘white privilege’ is often used as a shut-down argument, at least as it relates to hard work, success, and personal responsibility and freedom. Anyone who worries about taxes or regulations, and the likely effects of government programs on economic growth and employment is told, ‘Check your privilege!’”

Munger relates this in particular to our current political debate. “Perhaps Trump supporters are taking the whole ‘white privilege’ argument too far in the opposite direction. I’ll leave that to you to decide. But no matte what you think, there’s no doubt that a lot of people — no matter what their ethnic, family, or socioeconomic backgrounds — are getting tired of being told that their success is undeserved.”

To that I would only add that many people are equally tired of hearing that the failures of other people (in school and elsewhere) are due to their backgrounds rather than their individual failings.

Hat tip: Jonathan Anomaly

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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