The real white privilege and my radio race war
By Selwyn Duke
If you look for the worst in a group, you're sure to find it. Using a twist on an Abraham Lincoln line, I made that statement on the Mildred Gaddis Show (Radio One Detroit WCHB AM) last Wednesday during a debate on "White Privilege: Myth or Reality." Finding myself pitted against the other guest, whose name isn't important, and the black callers, it was a spirited discussion, to say the least.
It was also, unfortunately, a good example of how hatred is like darkness: the more there is, the less you can see.
To the other guest and the black callers, white privilege's reality was simply a "fact" everyone was obligated to acknowledge, and the only legitimate question was the extent to which it has affected our lives. My debate opponent was flabbergasted that I denied this.
Of course, the general explanation for "deniers" such as me — and this is the white man's plight, the dogma goes — is that we're so immersed in our privilege that we just can't help ourselves and see beyond it. Thus is our opinion on the subject irrelevant.
This demonization is a bit like what befell the Jews in Nazi Germany. It mattered not if they didn't have two pfennigs to rub together; by virtue of being Jewish they were automatically deemed privileged — and guilty of taking advantage of that privilege. And this justifies all manner and form of discrimination against the target group to "balance the scales." Of course, those scales never do get balanced. For instance, even though South African whites are politically powerless today and subject to great discrimination and violence, they're still blamed for their country's woes.
But accepting white privilege as supposition is prejudice itself. If someone wishes to claim this phenomenon exists, the burden is on him to prove it; it is not on those who would have to prove a negative.
This proof is never forthcoming. The only argument offered is that whites are more prosperous and healthier socially than are blacks, which proves white privilege as much as blacks' numerical dominance in the NBA proves black privilege. After all, Hindus (exclusively non-white) are the highest-earning religious group in the U.S., and Jews are number two, yet no one today takes this as proof of Hindu or Jewish privilege. In fact, in a radio debate some years ago I challenged a different guest — who cited whites' higher incomes as proof of privilege — to be true to his rationale and speak of Jewish privilege (which he wouldn't dare do). His response?
Jewish people can't be privileged because we know they've suffered discrimination.
Of course, this is circular reasoning. Higher incomes were proof of his ideology — except when his ideology said that higher incomes weren't.
But that's the left-reason Left for you. They don't need facts or logic. They know white privilege exists. They know whites discriminate. It's just a matter of accepting the terms of surrender and your place in the re-education camp. Because they know. Yet the guest on that second show, a Ph.D., didn't even know that whites (non-Hispanic) were only 63 percent of our population; he thought they constituted 80 percent. And this was quite striking, that he didn't know the country's racial and ethnic make-up — his Ph.D. was in ethnic studies.
But, hey, don't you know? Educators today teach students "how to think" — as opposed to just teaching memorization and "facts."
So it's no wonder many don't have enough facts to lend perspective to the few facts they do know. On the Mildred Gaddis Show I heard the usual refrains: whites had slaves, whites violated blacks' civil rights, white men in America didn't allow anyone else to vote. The other guest even bellowed, as if relating an unpardonable sin, that our country was founded only by white men. Is this shocking in a primarily white civilization? China was founded by Chinese, and ancient Egypt was founded by Egyptians.
French philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville noted, "The most dangerous moment for a bad regime is when it begins to reform itself." Being a rough-hewn lot, all of man is a "bad regime." But whites started to reform themselves.
And now they're endangered.
That is to say, it's true that whites engaged in slavery, violated human rights and suppressed voting. But is this notable? All groups did those things. Slavery has been practiced since time immemorial and still is not unusual in places such as Africa. What's notable is that while its unlikely whites were the first ones to engage in slavery, they were the first ones to outlaw it. Europeans led the way there, followed by the U.S. a bit later.
Human-rights violations are also the historical norm. What's notable is that whites were the group that originated our modern concept of human rights.
And for virtually all of history women and blacks couldn't vote — anywhere — because no one could vote.
Until whites invented democracy.
It was born in Athens, Greece 2500 years ago. And modern constitutional republics were originated by whites as well.
Having said all this, I'll now admit I've been wrong in denying the reality of white privilege. It certainly exists.
It's the privilege from which anyone who resides in a primarily white nation benefits. People who live in Western lands enjoy a lifestyle unparalleled in history or anywhere in the rest of the world. As Thomas Sowell wrote recently addressing Barack Obama's classless impugning of our country while in India, "[W]hat Obama called ‘terrible poverty' in America would be called prosperity in India."
This brings us to the fact that there is black privilege as well. It's not enjoyed by most black people, who live in Africa often in misery and under despotism. But in the U.S. it means benefitting from quotas, affirmative-action, set-asides, immunity from many kinds of criticism, and the latitude to make racial remarks and jokes that would destroy whites' careers.
Some may now fault me for framing all this in racial terms. But how else can one address a race-based claim such as white privilege? Don't write the check if you don't want it cashed.
It could also seem as if I'm engaging in white triumphalism. But while the causes of civilizations' varying degrees of success constitute an interesting topic too complex to explore here, know that I don't consider cultural and technological advancement a purely white domain. Egypt and China were once dominant powers, and China may become so again. But I am trying to balance the scales.
This returns us to my opening Lincoln line. If you focus on a person's sins to the exclusion of his good deeds, you can make him appear the Devil incarnate. It's fashionable today to look for the worst in whites, and because of this people are sure to find it. And the result is that we will hear things such as, to quote late leftist writer Susan Sontag, "The white race is the cancer of human history."
But, of course, whites do have certain crimes to answer for. As an example and in an interesting irony, it seems it was a white man who disgorged the concept of white privilege.