Those who do not learn hxstory are doomed to repeat it.
— Attributed to George Santayana, recently discovered first draft.
The word “privilege,” prefaced by a color or gender, has come into vogue as a mechanism of dismissing the value of other people’s views in favor of one’s own. In its most common permutations, it’s used as justification to ignore the positions of white people and males, and can be doubled up should the views be expressed by a white male. To that, one can add a variety of words, including such gems as cis-hetero-normative, which reduces any sense of obligation to consider such a person’s views to negative 27.
All of this adds up to fun and games on campus, where rational thought is anathema to a decent grade in a liberal arts education. But according to Judicial Watch, it’s now been introduced to the military.
Judicial Watch announced today that it obtained documents from the United States Department of the Army revealing that in April 2015, 400 soldiers in the 67th Signal Battalion at Fort Gordon, Georgia, were subjected to a “white privilege” briefing, including a PowerPoint presentation instructing the attendees: “Our society attaches privilege to being white and male and heterosexual …”
The slideshow also informed the soldiers: “Race privilege gives whites little reason to pay a lot of attention to African Americans.” It alleged that there are unspecified “powerful forces everywhere” keeping different kinds of people from being valued, accepted, and appreciated, but “we act as if it doesn’t exist.” This alleged privilege creates a “yawning divide” in income, wealth, and dignity. The material described a mythical African woman who isn’t aware that she’s black until she comes to America, encounters “white racism” and discovers the U.S. is “organized according to race.”
But it’s true, you say? Regardless of whether you’re right or wrong, the hierarchical structure of the military renders it irrelevant and problematic. A sergeant takes orders from an officer. If the officer is black, a sergeant still takes orders from the officer. Female? Gay? Transgender? The sergeant still takes order from the officer. Why? Because that’s the fundamental nature of the hierarchy, that someone has to give orders so that folks on the battlefield don’t stop to discuss whether they are in agreement with the officer when bullets are being fired at them.
While the concept of privilege is a worthy discussion for the classroom, its introduction into the military, a place where great efforts are expended to break down the narcissistic concept that everyone’s thoughts, will, bias is worthy of respect, in order to create a necessary obedience to its hierarchy so that people don’t die, is
nuts [ableist slur].
As it happens, I agree that privilege exists, but it plays out less as a matter of privilege, and more as a matter of detriment. In other words, the black kid who suffers the store dick (yeah, I said it) at Barney’s shadowing him the whole time because what black kid isn’t a shoplifter, can’t enjoy the same shopping experience as my kids. Yes, it’s far more nuanced, far deeper, than this, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real.
Nor does it mean that latent (or patent, for that matter) racism doesn’t exist. It’s not an accident that cops kill unarmed blacks in disproportionate numbers. And no, I’m not saying that calling America the “land of opportunity” is a microaggression. Just because some people have reduced a real problem to an inane absurdity doesn’t mean the real problem doesn’t exist. It just means those people are fragile, narcissistic, snowflakes. And even snowflakes can suffer prejudice, aside from the derision they earned by being snowflakes.
But whoever came up with the idea that the military is a good place to push this issue is dangerous.
Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do.
Privilege has become one of those loaded words we need to reclaim so that we can use it to name and illuminate the truth
Race privilege gives whites little reason to pay a lot of attention to African Americans or to how white privilege affects them. “To be white in American [sic] means not having to think about it” [Quotation not attributed]
Our society attaches privilege to being white and male and heterosexual regardless of your social class.
Imagine a school or a workplace where all kinds of people feel comfortable showing up. [sic] valued, accepted, supported, appreciated, respected, belonging. [sic] Something very powerful keeps this from us.
The truth of this powerful forces [sic] is everywhere, but we don’t know how to talk about it and so we act as though it doesn’t exist
The trouble we’re in privileges [sic] some groups at the expense of others.
It creates a yawning divide in levels of income, wealth, dignity, safety, health and quality of life.
It promotes fear, suspicion, discrimination, harassment, and violence.
Consider the “black woman” in Africa who has not experienced white racism and does not identify herself as a “black woman”. African, a woman, but not black.
She only became “black” when she came to the U.S. where privilege is organized according to race, where she is assigned to a social category that bears that name and she is treated differently as a result. [Emphasis added]
The trouble we’re in can’t be solved unless the “privileged” make the problem of privilege their problem and do something about it.
The fact that it’s so easy for me and other people in dominant groups not to do this is the single most powerful barrier to change.
Captain to sergeant: your squad will take the point, going up the hill first.
Sergeant to captain: You know, Sxr, I don’t think so. That’s a very dangerous mission, and I get the sense that your ordering my squad, which is inclusive and diverse, is a product of your cis-hetero-normative white male privilege oppression as manifested…[boom].
The conclusion drawn from this “indoctrination” by Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton is as silly as the idea of social justice training itself:
The Obama administration undermines the morale of our military with morally repugnant ‘equal opportunity training’ that makes many soldiers feel unwelcome because they are the wrong sex, race, religion or aren’t part of a politically correct group.
The problem isn’t resolved by replacing one set of feelz with another, and casting this as a political choice is just as foolish regardless of which side of the spectrum you’re on. The issues are discipline, obedience and effectiveness. Captain Privilege’s superpower isn’t white privilege, but the bar on his shoulders, whether those shoulders are black or white, male or female, gay or straight. History teaches us that anything else means people die.