Friday, September 19, 2008

This is Your Nation on White Privilege

I didn't write this. I got it from The Red Room, but found it so compelling and utterly full of the irony of the Republicans, and the way they reason their way into self-contradiction, that I had to share it. Tim Wise not only hits the nail on the head with why these hypocrites should not be trusted, but he pretty much completely demolishes any notion that McCain and Palin are honorable people who are who they try to market themselves as. So please enjoy this. I am going to look up relevant links to all the facts listed here, which will take time, so keep checking in from time to time as they are added.

This is Your Nation on White Privilege
by Tim Wise

For those who still can’t grasp the concept of white privilege, or who are looking for some easy-to-understand examples of it,perhaps this list will help.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you'll “kick their fuckin' ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

White privilege is when you can claim that being mayor of a town smaller than most medium-sized colleges, and then Governor of a state with about the same number of people as the lower fifth of the island of Manhattan, makes you ready to potentially be president, and people don’t all piss on themselves with laughter, while being a black U.S. Senator, two-term state Senator, and constitutional law scholar, means you’re “untested.”

White privilege is being able to say that you support the words “under God” in the pledge of allegiance because “if it was good enough for the founding fathers, it’s good enough for me,” and not be immediately disqualified from holding office--since, after all, the pledge was written in the late 1800s and the “under God” part wasn’t added until the 1950s--while if you're black and believe in reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school, requires it), you are a dangerous and mushy liberal who isn't fit to safeguard American institutions.

White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you.

White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto is “Alaska first,” and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she’s being disrespectful.

White privilege is being able to make fun of community organizers and the work they do -- like, among other things, fight for the right of women to vote, or for civil rights, or the 8-hour workday, or an end to child labor--and people think you’re being pithy and tough, but if you merely question the experience of a small town mayor and 18-month governor with no foreign policy expertise beyond a class she took in college and the fact that she lives close to Russia -- you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

White privilege is being able to convince white women who don’t even agree with you on any substantive issue to vote for you and your running mate anyway, because suddenly your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

White privilege is being able to fire people who didn’t support your political campaigns and not be accused of abusing your power or being a typical politician who engages in favoritism, while being black and merely knowing some folks from the old-line political machines in Chicago means you must be corrupt.

White privilege is when you can take nearly twenty-four hours to get to a hospital after beginning to leak amniotic fluid, and still be viewed as a great mom whose commitment to her children is unquestionable, and whose "next door neighbor" qualities make her ready to be VP, while if you're a black candidate for president and you let your children be interviewed for a few seconds on TV, you're irresponsibly exploiting them.

White privilege is being able to give a 36 minute speech in which you talk about lipstick and make fun of your opponent, while laying out no substantive policy positions on any issue at all, and still manage to be considered a legitimate candidate, while a black person who gives an hour speech the week before, in which he lays out specific policy proposals on several issues, is still criticized for being too vague about what he would do if elected.

White privilege is being able to attend churches over the years whose pastors say that people who voted for John Kerry or merely criticize George W. Bush are going to hell, and that the U.S. is an explicitly Christian nation and the job of Christians is to bring Christian theological principles into government, and who bring in speakers who say the conflict in the Middle East is God’s punishment on Jews for rejecting Jesus, and everyone can still think you’re just a good church-going Christian, but if you’re black and friends with a black pastor who has noted (as have Colin Powell and the U.S. Department of Defense) that terrorist attacks are often the result of U.S. foreign policy and who talks about the history of racism and its effect on black people, you’re an extremist who probably hates America.

White privilege is not knowing what the Bush Doctrine is when asked by a reporter, and then people get angry at the reporter for asking you such a “trick question,” while being black and merely refusing to give one-word answers to the queries of Bill O’Reilly means you’re dodging the question, or trying to seem overly intellectual and nuanced.

White privilege is being able to go to a prestigious prep school, then to Yale and then Harvard Business school, and yet, still be seen as just an average guy (George W. Bush) while being black, going to a prestigious prep school, then Occidental College, then Columbia, and then to Harvard Law, makes you "uppity," and a snob who probably looks down on regular folks.

White privilege is being able to graduate near the bottom of your college class (McCain), or graduate with a C average from Yale (W.) and that's OK, and you're cut out to be president, but if you're black and you graduate near the top of your class from Harvard Law, you can't be trusted to make good decisions in office.

White privilege is being able to dump your first wife after she's disfigured in a car crash so you can take up with a multi-millionaire beauty queen (who you go on to call the c-word in public) and still be thought of as a man of strong family values, while if you're black and married for nearly twenty years to the same woman, your family is viewed as un-American and your gestures of affection for each other are called "terrorist fist bumps."

White privilege is when you can develop a pain-killer addiction, having obtained your drug of choice illegally like Cindy McCain, go on to beat that addiction, and everyone praises you for being so strong, while being a black guy who smoked pot a few times in college and never became an addict means people will wonder if perhaps you still get high, and even ask whether or not you ever sold drugs.

White privilege is being able to sing a song about bombing Iran and still be viewed as a sober and rational statesman, with the maturity to be president, while being black and suggesting that the U.S. should speak with other nations, even when we have disagreements with them, makes you "dangerously naive and immature."

White privilege is being able to claim your experience as a POW has anything at all to do with your fitness for president, while being black and experiencing racism and an absent father is apparently among the "lesser adversities" faced by other politicians, as Sarah Palin explained in her convention speech.

And finally, white privilege is the only thing that could possibly allow someone to become president when he has voted with George W. Bush 90 percent of the time, even as unemployment is skyrocketing, people are losing their homes, inflation is rising, and the U.S. is increasingly isolated from world opinion, just because a lot of white voters aren’t sure about that whole “change” thing. Ya know, it’s just too vague and ill-defined, unlike, say, four more years of the same, which is very concrete and certain.

White privilege is, in short, the problem.


Pocket Nerd said...


Ladyhuntingwolf said...

I have nightmares that McCain and Palin are in the White House.

David W. Irish said...

I've just finished my first wave of adding relevent links to a lot of the claims of this article. I've even enlisted the author to send me some of the links he got his info from. Hopefully, I'll hear back from him, because this is turning out to be fun.

David W. Irish said...

When I first read this, I was stunned by it's brilliance. Most of his facts are still fresh in the news, but the points he makes are right on the money.

David W. Irish said...

I'm sure a lot of people have nightmares about republicans in office, when they're not laughing about the same prospects. After all, I laughed at Reagan all through his administration, because I was still young and in my twenties, and realized that it would be over some day. But now this stuff is dragging too long.

GamingAsshole said...

I do not have nightmares of Republicans, or Democrats, I just think in the coming years, either way, America is going down. Too bad...

GamingAsshole said...

Hey Psycho Dave, you mentioned the Alaskan Independence Party, which is linked to the Constitution Party. What you do think of that party? I think they are the real scary rightist kooks, especially compared to the Republicans.

David W. Irish said...

Yeah, there's a lot of John Birch society and "end of the world" types up in Alaska. Becuase of the sparse population, there's a larger percentage of these whackos up there. Palin is best described as a cross between them. She's one scary redneck.

GamingAsshole said...

Well, the John Birch Society does have influence in the Constitution Party. I am surprised no one ever brings them up.

David W. Irish said...

I thought of a new one!

White Priviledge is being able to be recently associated with radical political organizations like the Alaska Independence Party, which advocated secession from the UNited States, and several extremist Fundamentalist Christian Churches who preach that Alaska will be a haven for God's People during the upcoming Tribulation period, and nobody questions your sanity or your politics, but if you're a Black Senator running for President, who has a one-time meeting with 2 former 60's Radicals who turned themselves into authorities and have since become respected community organizers in the state you are a senator in, suddenly you are labeled as a radical with dangerous ideas.

I am speaking of course of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who actually turned themselves in to authorities in the 1980s after bombings they committed in the 60's to protest the Vietnam war. They were never actually charged with any crimes, and did not get prosecuted for it. Nobody was killed by the bomb that accidentally went off before they could use it. The only reason Obama ever met with them in the first place is because they happened to work helping disadvantaged people in Chicago, and occaisionally speak at events that Obama, as a senator, is also invited to. They are not even close friends -- they merely know each other from a distance and have only briefly spoken to each other. Conservative groups have put together a campaign commercial now being evaluated, where they claim that the connection is deep and that these people have some kind of radical influence over Obama that's dangerous. Of course the claim is bullshit, but the fact that nobody questioned Palin and her Husband's creepy religious and political connections makes this all the more enraging.

Pocket Nerd said...

To be fair, though, it's not just "white privilege." Part of it comes from the Republican control of the media battlefield: The sins of Republicans are minimized and quickly forgotten, while the quirks and peccadilloes of Democrats are dragged past the public eye again and again, accompanied by plenty of hand-wringing alarmism.

Through Clinton's presidency, how often did the media remind us that he'd smoked marijuana in college? How many jokes were there on talk shows? How often did right-wing talking heads remind us of the fact-- as if smoking a joints while in college twenty years ago somehow reflected his fitness to govern?

But George W. Bush's drug and alcohol problems? Untouchable. If you point out that Dubya escaped the personal and legal consequences of long-term alcohol and cocaine abuse solely because he was the scion of a politically influential family, you're declared an irrational, Bush-hating liberal.

The press makes much of Obama's cocaine use, of course. But it's not solely because he's black; even if he were white, we'd still be hearing pretty much the same tune from the Republican politicians, their plausible-deniability PR flacks, and the right-wing talk show hosts and bloggers. Of course, the right wing will exploit every advantage they can get, and "SCARY SCARY BLACK MAN!" plays well in key red states throughout the United States southeast and midwest. But that's a symptom, not the root of the disease.

(For his own sake, I hope Barack has never had an affair with a white woman. The Rethuglicans are praying for one Hell of an October Surprise this year, and "ZOMG DARK-SKINNED DEBBIL STEALZ UR WIMMENZ!!" might be just what they need. There are far too many voters who don't think of themselves as racist, but would still be squicked at the thought of consensual sex between a black man and a white woman.)