Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Politics of Privilege

 

Most of the problems that young progressives complain about are a product of one thing: They have never experienced actual hardship. It’s easy to get worked up about Donald Trump when you’ve never experienced a President you didn’t vote for; most of them have little memory of life before Barack Obama. It’s even easier to get worked up over President Trump when you’ve never experienced an actual dictator or fascist.

I thought of this manifestation of privilege with two tweets over the course of the week. The first, from the University of Virginia:

There’s no denying that there are issues related to race in this country. It’s unlikely anyone who has actually experienced real racism would get worked up over having “too many white people” sitting inside of a student center, quietly studying.

The next is just one example of many of this phenomenon, where impolite or bad behavior is described as “abusive.”

It’s an insult to anyone who has actually been the victim of abuse, and is clearly the thinking of someone who has never endured it.

There’s a popular “germ” theory of allergies; that the kids of my generation and younger are experiencing more allergies (food and seasonal) because we aren’t exposed to enough germs. Those germs innoculate us, they give our bodies something to focus on, and when they don’t get enough, your systems go haywire, attacking everything at random. This is like that. These young people have never encountered the “dirt” in life, the nitty-gritty bad stuff. And so, they’re making mountains out of molehills and lashing out at people sitting in student centers and not calling them back. It’s easy to see their privileged lives and think “must be nice,” but in a way, I feel badly for them. The hardships in life serve a purpose and have a way of setting your priorities. When you’ve never experienced them, this is the wacky stuff that result.

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There are 15 comments.

  1. JoelB Member

    I suppose plain old rudeness just is not recognized as a thing anymore.

    • #1
    • February 13, 2020, at 7:09 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  2. Stad Thatcher

    Bethany Mandel:

    I thought of this manifestation of privilege with two tweets over the course of the week. The first, from the University of Virginia:

    Rest assured if a white student had tweeted, “There are too many blacks on the basketball team”, he’d be kicked out of school.

    Typical . . .

    • #2
    • February 13, 2020, at 7:15 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  3. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Bethany Mandel:

    The next is just one example of many of this phenomenon, where impolite or bad behavior is described as “abusive.”

    [The tweet appearing in the OP didn’t copy here when I tried to embed it. It said:

    Just so you know,
    Ghosting is Emotional abuse.

    Not returning calls is Emotional abuse.

    Leaving ppl on read, is Emotional abuse.

    If you do this, you are an abuser.

    End of tweet.]

    It’s an insult to anyone who has actually been the victim of abuse, and is clearly the thinking of someone who has never endured it.

    I’m not at all convinced that the behavior at issue is even impolite or bad. I must confess that I didn’t even know what “ghosting” or “leaving ppl on read” were, until I looked these terms up after reading this part of the OP.

    If you don’t want to have anything to do with someone, you don’t have to. You can simply cut off communications. It may well be more impolite to openly say “I don’t like you and I don’t want to have anything to do with you any more.” The obvious alternative is to simply withdraw from contact, which means things like: “ghosting” (apparently, this means withdrawing from a relationship without explanation) and not returning calls.

    Putting a person on “read” — which is apparently a social media setting that allows the other person to know that you read their message, though you did not respond — strikes me as another way to make the point, without the need for a direct “leave me alone” communication.

    I think that the idea of ghosting, and these other actions, is actually to spare a person’s feelings and avoid an unpleasant confrontation. It may be the most polite thing to do in certain circumstances.

    • #3
    • February 13, 2020, at 7:49 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  4. Retail Lawyer Member

    A famine would properly reset priorities.

    • #4
    • February 13, 2020, at 8:55 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  5. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    A famine would properly reset priorities.

    Maybe the corona virus will accomplish this.

    • #5
    • February 13, 2020, at 9:00 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. Al French Moderator

    Retail Lawyer (View Comment):

    A famine would properly reset priorities.

    Or the coming plague.

    • #6
    • February 13, 2020, at 9:01 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. Stina Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    If you don’t want to have anything to do with someone, you don’t have to. You can simply cut off communications. It may well be more impolite to openly say “I don’t like you and I don’t want to have anything to do with you any more.” The obvious alternative is to simply withdraw from contact, which means things like: “ghosting” (apparently, this means withdrawing from a relationship without explanation) and not returning calls.

    My knowledge of “ghosting” was largely in relation to getting laid and then ditching… which is an unfortunate in these times.

    That it’s happening tells me there’s a subset of girls moving away from casual sex but the guys have not. At some point we will need to deal with that like it’s a serious problem.

    For now, i wouldn’t just give this a pass (not would I call it abusive). Boys and girls need to learn to communicate that they are moving on, especially if they had previously been chasing an intimate relationship. Ghosting my kid’s babysitter who I haven’t called in months when she asks to take my kids to the park is very different.

    Girls oversell things that hurt them because they want someone to take their pain seriously and they themselves feel powerless. Being pumped and dumped is a valid reason to be in pain and IS the dirt in the nitty-gritty world.

    • #7
    • February 13, 2020, at 9:25 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  8. Songwriter Member
    Songwriter Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    I think that the idea of ghosting, and these other actions, is actually to spare a person’s feelings and avoid an unpleasant confrontation. It may be the most polite thing to do in certain circumstances.

    And it could just be some poor mom or dad who hasn’t got a clue they left a text hanging.

    • #8
    • February 13, 2020, at 9:37 AM PST
    • 1 like
  9. Jon1979 Lincoln

    There is an innate desire in some folks out there to be Very Important People living in Very Important Times and doing Very Important Things. But they also want to shortcut their way to the last part, and the easiest way to do that is the current fad — bolstered by social media — of declaring yourself and your group as victims of oppression.

    Context just gets in the way with those types of people, so of course the progressive activists at the UVA Multicultural Student Center want to act as though the ‘oppression’ of too many white people there makes the activists the same as Rosa Parks on the bus in Montgomery. If there’s no crisis, they can’t be important people and they can’t do important things (and in fact, when you throw in the passive-aggressive power grab that is at the heart of the modern victimology scam the angry activists here are the Montgomery city bus driver, telling the white people at the MSC to get to the back of the bus, as a way of displaying their power on the UVA campus).

    • #9
    • February 13, 2020, at 9:50 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  10. fidelio102 Coolidge

    What you describe are manifestations of the cult of “victimhood”; whatever your race, color, gender or religion you can always claim to be a victim…. unless of course you are like me; white, male heterosexual and of no avowed confession, in which case you are a perpetrator and beneficiary of white privilege.

    This is what young people are being taught, not only in America. You can’t blame them for embracing Bernie and his unaffordable utopias. They have not, as I have, traveled in Soviet-occupied Europe during the height of the Cold War. They have not, as I have, been married to a woman who, as a student, affronted Soviet tanks in the streets of Prague in 1968. Ignorance is bliss, as they say.

    As they say, too, he who is ignorant of history is condemned to repeat it. And we who are not can only stand by and watch them do it.

    • #10
    • February 13, 2020, at 10:32 AM PST
    • 1 like
  11. GLDIII Temporarily Essential Thatcher
    GLDIII Temporarily Essential Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Bethany Mandel: There’s a popular “germ” theory of allergies; that the kids of my generation and younger are experiencing more allergies (food and seasonal) because we aren’t exposed to enough germs. Those germs innoculate us, they give our bodies something to focus on, and when they don’t get enough, your systems go haywire, attacking everything at random. This is like that. These young people have never encountered the “dirt” in life, the nitty-gritty bad stuff. And so, they’re making mountains out of molehills and lashing out at people sitting in student centers and not calling them back. It’s easy to see their privileged lives and think “must be nice,” but in a way, I feel badly for them. The hardships in life serve a purpose and have a way of setting your priorities. When you’ve never experienced them, this is the wacky stuff that result.

    My pre boomer parents let us kids eat dirt, (as one of five I cannot fault them for not being omnipresent). I will be retiring soon with almost a year of unused sick leave.

    Must have worked. Dirt be good.

    They also let us settle the small squabbles amongst ourselves (with 4 boys close in age it’s unavoidable) and let the lessons be learned while young and at home.

    They raise five very polite adults that will never grace the ignomious halls of “Florida Man (or Woman)”.

    The older I get, the more of their wisdom I observe when I look back on how they managed all of us, and also realized how much that the then surrounding societal norms assisted. Those norms have been for a while unfashionable, which made my job as a parent much harder. I hope that my grandchildren will not suffer from an increasingly confused societal free fall.

    • #11
    • February 13, 2020, at 11:16 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Full Size Tabby Member

    The Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 (and particularly the local offshoot in Rochester, NY that occupied the park across the street from my then-office) taught me that most modern outrage is by privileged people complaining about slightly more privileged people. Although the movement claimed to represent “the 99%” against “the 1%,” it was really the 5% against the 0.1%.

    Once I noticed that, I continued to notice that almost all subsequent expressions of Progressive outrage were also privileged people complaining about slightly more privileged people. 

    Anyone attending the University of Virginia already occupies a rather privileged place in the overall society. 

    • #12
    • February 13, 2020, at 11:42 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  13. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    The Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011 (and particularly the local offshoot in Rochester, NY that occupied the park across the street from my then-office) taught me that most modern outrage is by privileged people complaining about slightly more privileged people. Although the movement claimed to represent “the 99%” against “the 1%,” it was really the 5% against the 0.1%.

    Once I noticed that, I continued to notice that almost all subsequent expressions of Progressive outrage were also privileged people complaining about slightly more privileged people.

    Anyone attending the University of Virginia already occupies a rather privileged place in the overall society.

    At the main Occupy Wall Street site in Lower Manhattan, the low-life professional thieves and others who had regular run-ins with the law identified the progressive rubes pretty quickly, and began equalizing wealth by stealing their stuff. I forget which site in was, but I remember it being noted that one of the OWS activist was filing a police report over the theft of their $2,500 Apple Mac Book, which fits the idea of privileged people protesting other privileged people while being too self-unaware to grasp that if you’re buying $2,500 laptops (or if mom and dad are buying it for you), you’re not part of the downtrodden.

    • #13
    • February 13, 2020, at 1:06 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  14. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    We should definitely focus more on the people who did everything they could to create and feed this hyper—-this often deliberately bullying—-sensitivity, and this victim-or-beneficiary-of-oppression fantasy so many college students have been acting like they have about themselves and others.
    For the most part, the kids didn’t come up with this outlook on their own. Who at the schools benefits from kids believing this nonsense (or benefits from kids being afraid to reveal the fact that they don’t believe it when they don’t.)

    I suspect the kids are mostly being expertly worked over by very skilled manipulators, and that their pre-college life didn’t include much preparation that might have prevented that happening to the same extent.

    I also agree with what I think I’m hearing in some of these comments. I.e., that the new label of “emotional abuse” for “ghosting”, and “putting people on read” can be (maybe is being) used as a way of cutting off people’s polite retreat—as a way of keeping people from having private opinions or more easily ending undesired associations. Yes, of course ghosting and putting people on read can also be done abusively.

    • #14
    • February 13, 2020, at 2:49 PM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Bullwinkle Member

    I manage a team of younger folks (younger than me :) ). Most have not been through a downturn, and as such, have perspectives that are shall we say, skewed. You would think we run a sweat shop because you cannot wear flip flops to work. I don’t really hope so, but sometimes I wish they would experience some tough times where you are just happy to get a pay check. Would certainly help temper expectations and provide a new perspective. 

    • #15
    • February 14, 2020, at 11:54 AM PST
    • Like