Privilege: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship ‘Political Correctness’. Its continuing mission: to alleviate liberal guilt by creating more class division and instigating endless dispute, to boldly go where no rational person has dared before.
On my Facebook newsfeed a clever cartoon popped up to explain privilege from the self-defined safety of „somewhere in the middle“, but instinctively backs off from even hinting at a solution. Therein lays the brilliance: Rebuttals are hardly possible. There’s not even a usable scale where privilege can be objectively measured; it’s a universal tool to stifle discussion when opportune, since the postulation is in itself true in a general sense, but vague and evasive enough to be used as an effective rhetorical weapon. It’s comparable to a pocket knife, which can remain unused in a desk drawer, open a beer bottle or even whittle an intriguing wooden figure.
The catalogue of privilege points can be extended ad infinitum. Paradoxically, the result is an oversimplified but ever-increasing complex division of people in subgroups in a perpetual world of ever-changing definitions of victimhood, advantage and division. The complexity enters further dimensions when intersectionality is factored in. Cunningly, context as a variable is avoided, e.g. does being Jewish reflect the same privilege in every possible setting and context?
If I did take the time to measure my privilege points against a very wealthy and talented Will Smith, the result might depress me. Guess what: I’m happy for him and I hope he’s as happy as I am way down the ladder.
”Ultimately, a well-meaning reminder to listen to other people occasionally has been turned into an angry cliché through misunderstanding, mockery and overuse. Maybe it’s time for the phrase itself to check its privilege.”
William Wires, 2. Feb. 2016