Skip to comments.There is a phrase that floats around college campuses, Princeton being no exception, that threatens
Posted on 05/05/2014 3:10:03 PM PDT by Scoutmaster
There is a phrase that floats around college campuses, Princeton being no exception, that threatens to strike down opinions without regard for their merits, but rather solely on the basis of the person that voiced them. Check your privilege, the saying goes, and I have been reprimanded by it several times this year. The phrase, handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness, and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung. Check your privilege, they tell me in a command that teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world.
I do not accuse those who check me and my perspective of overt racism, although the phrase, which assumes that simply because I belong to a certain ethnic group I should be judged collectively with it, toes that line. But I do condemn them for diminishing everything I have personally accomplished, all the hard work I have done in my life, and for ascribing all the fruit I reap not to the seeds I sow but to some invisible patron saint of white maleness who places it out for me before I even arrive. Furthermore, I condemn them for casting the equal protection clause, indeed the very idea of a meritocracy, as a myth, and for declaring that we are all governed by invisible forces (some would call them stigmas or societal norms), that our nation runs on racist and sexist conspiracies. Forget you didnt build that; check your privilege and realize that nothing you have accomplished is real.Talinside
But they cant be telling me that everything Ive done with my life can be credited to the racist patriarchy holding my hand throughout my years of education and eventually guiding me into Princeton. Even that is too extreme. So to find out what they are saying, I decided to take their advice. I actually went and checked the origins of my privileged existence, to empathize with those whose underdog stories I cant possibly comprehend. I have unearthed some examples of the privilege with which my family was blessed, and now I think I better understand those who assure me that skin color allowed my family and I to flourish today.
Perhaps its the privilege my grandfather and his brother had to flee their home as teenagers when the Nazis invaded Poland, leaving their mother and five younger siblings behind, running and running until they reached a Displaced Persons camp in Siberia, where they would do years of hard labor in the bitter cold until World War II ended. Maybe it was the privilege my grandfather had of taking on the local Rabbis work in that DP camp, telling him that the spiritual leader shouldnt do hard work, but should save his energy to pass Jewish tradition along to those who might survive. Perhaps it was the privilege my great-grandmother and those five great-aunts and uncles I never knew had of being shot into an open grave outside their hometown. Maybe thats my privilege.
Or maybe its the privilege my grandmother had of spending weeks upon weeks on a death march through Polish forests in subzero temperatures, one of just a handful to survive, only to be put in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she would have died but for the Allied forces who liberated her and helped her regain her health when her weight dwindled to barely 80 pounds.
Perhaps my privilege is that those two resilient individuals came to America with no money and no English, obtained citizenship, learned the language and met each other; that my grandfather started a humble wicker basket business with nothing but long hours, an idea, and an iron willto paraphrase the man I never met: I escaped Hitler. Some business troubles are going to ruin me? Maybe my privilege is that they worked hard enough to raise four children, and to send them to Jewish day school and eventually City College.
Perhaps it was my privilege that my own father worked hard enough in City College to earn a spot at a top graduate school, got a good job, and for 25 years got up well before the crack of dawn, sacrificing precious time he wanted to spend with those he valued mosthis wife and kidsto earn that living. I can say with certainty there was no legacy involved in any of his accomplishments. The wicker business just isnt that influential. Now would you say that weve been really privileged? That our success has been gift-wrapped?
Thats the problem with calling someone out for the privilege which you assume has defined their narrative. You dont know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are. Assuming theyve benefitted from power systems or other conspiratorial imaginary institutions denies them credit for all theyve done, things of which you may not even conceive. You dont know whose father died defending your freedom. You dont know whose mother escaped oppression. You dont know who conquered their demons, or may still conquering them now.
The truth is, though, that I have been exceptionally privileged in my life, albeit not in the way any detractors would have it.
It has been my distinct privilege that my grandparents came to America. First, that there was a place at all that would take them from the ruins of Europe. And second, that such a place was one where they could legally enter, learn the language, and acclimate to a society that ultimately allowed them to flourish.
It was their privilege to come to a country that grants equal protection under the law to its citizens, that cares not about religion or race, but the content of your character.
It was my privilege that my grandfather was blessed with resolve and an entrepreneurial spirit, and that he was lucky enough to come to the place where he could realize the dream of giving his children a better life than he had.
But far more important for me than his attributes was the legacy he sought to pass along, which forms the basis of what detractors call my privilege, but which actually should be praised as one of altruism and self-sacrifice. Those who came before us suffered for the sake of giving us a better life. When we similarly sacrifice for our descendents by caring for the planet, its called environmentalism, and is applauded. But when we do it by passing along property and a set of values, its called privilege. (And when we do it by raising questions about our crippling national debt, were called Tea Party radicals.) Such sacrifice of any form shouldnt be scorned, but admired.
My exploration did yield some results. I recognize that it was my parents privilege and now my own that there is such a thing as an American dream which is attainable even for a penniless Jewish immigrant.
I am privileged that values like faith and education were passed along to me. My grandparents played an active role in my parents education, and some of my earliest memories included learning the Hebrew alphabet with my Dad. Its been made clear to me that education begins in the home, and the importance of parents involvement with their kids educationfrom mathematics to moralitycannot be overstated. Its not a matter of white or black, male or female or any other division which we seek, but a matter of the values we pass along, the legacy we leave, that perpetuates privilege. And theres nothing wrong with that.
Behind every success, large or small, there is a story, and it isnt always told by sex or skin color. My appearance certainly doesnt tell the whole story, and to assume that it does and that I should apologize for it is insulting. While I havent done everything for myself up to this point in my life, someone sacrificed themselves so that I can lead a better life. But that is a legacy I am proud of.
I have checked my privilege. And I apologize for nothing.
Should I check my God-given rights at the same time?
Oh bravo! Excellent article.
I have the right to bear arms, but linerals think it should be a governemnt handed privilege until you retire and then you are back to being a serf awaiting your death panel date.
Boy, is he going to the wrong school!
Anyone who uses the phrase “check your privilege” against another first needs to have their own privileges checked.
1) You are speaking freely. If you had earned that right you would not question it in others. As such, using an unearned right, you are a spoiled brat. Check your privilege and listen before you speak.
2) You are speaking to someone you think is privileged. If you truly believe this, then you should keep a humble and courteous tongue in your mouth, lest those you deem to be superior to you remind you of your inferiority.
3) Since you believe yourself to be inferior, the proof of this is not even speaking until you are spoken to.
Clearly, he is unrepentant, and this proves the need for reeducation camps established by FEMA, security by Homeland and reeducation provided by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
FWIW, Jewish students are 13% of Princeton. That’s by far the lowest in the Ivy League and the school has a goal of getting it back up to 20%.
No problem with that, until you realize Jews are only 2% of the population.
I doubt I have any disagreement with this student or his no doubt well-earned presence at Princeton.
I have a lot of problems with his ethnic/religious compatriots who have led the fight to have “white people” limited to no more than their percentage of the population (actually much less) at elite colleges, while allowing, indeed encouraging, Jews to exceed their percentage by 10x or 15x.
The poor fellow (author)...spent way too much time trying to get someone to understand, when they really do not want to understand and never will.
Engaging the willfully intolerant with all this "talk" is a waste of creative talent. Intellectual pretzel gymnastics and self mental torture would be more productive. You live..you learn.
Wonder what kind of grade he'd get on this if he turned it in as part of his course work in say, an English writing or a sociology class.
He would be stigmatized
Here is a further article
Former Prof. Richard Falk, now of UN infamy for his anti-Israel stances, was a longtime law professor at Princeton, along with other far-leftists and communists (the other old Communist Party USA clique of law professors was at Rutgers, led by Arthur Kinoy, a veteran Stalinist who worked on the faux Rosenbergs appeal.
Falk’s poison is apparent in this “Privilege” assault on white students as his anti-American, marxist hatred legacy is deep and long.
I’m glad that a Jewish student has stood up to Princeton’s self-imposed “quota” and anti-white attacks. Like the writer, I’m from a Holocaust devastated family and know what both “quotas” are as well as “German privilege” policies.
We know when the anti-semitic, now also anti-white/Christian, mobs are inside the gates, this time in academia. Our “canary in the mine” antennae were up decades ago and now they are permanently up, be it at any California university, Brandeis, Princeton, CUNY, NYU, Wayne State, Florida State, Northwestern Un., Un. of Illinois, Chicago, or at DePaul.
The convergence of the white marxists, black extremists, Hispanic irredentists, and Arab/Moslem jihadists/sharia uber alles folks, is the penultimate poisoning force of the mind on any campus. The ultimate shame is that too many professors have joined in this “hate group”, including many self-hating Jewish profs who should have learned something in European History, if no place else.
The liberals of the 60’s have poisoned the well of education and many of them are on campus as teachers to make sure that new supplies of mental poison are added on a continuing basis.
If the alumni don’t fight back now, kiss the major universities good by.
My grandparents fled oppression of Jews in Eastern Europe, and were not victimized by the Holocaust. My grandfather insisted that my mother and my aunt go to college in the 1940’s. My father worked for 55 years, since he was fifteen, in a factory from 7AM to 5PM, and then worked evenings and weekends in his coin business. My mother went to work teaching school, and my father sold part of his coin collection so that my brother and I could go to college. I finished college and passed the CPA exam, and then started my own accounting office, working sometimes fifteen hours a day.
I’m privileged. I am very, very privileged.
Mr. Fortgang didn't write this essay anonymously. Thanks to Chickensoup, I've since learned that the site I found erred in attributing this to "anonymous."
Mr. Fortgang's initial essay - written under his name - appeared in The Princeton Tory, "[a] journal of conservative and moderate thought."
The overwhelming majority of comments at that site essentially tell him to shut his white-privileged mouth, and that his family story doesn't matter because he's white-privileged because he's white.
One comment points out that Mr. Fortang's family story of a few generations of inconvenience (okay, I made up the 'inconvenience' part) doesn't compare with the 300 years of oppression that blacks have suffered in America. I think to myself "300 years. Hmmm. Gee, I can't think of any oppression that Jewish individuals have ever suffered throughout history (tongue firmly planted in cheek)."
It's well worth reading ten or fifteen comments, if just to get an idea about how Mr. Fortang will be treated at Princeton after publication of this essay.
A great read.
Among my favorite parts:
The point of Mr. Fortgangs essay the part that drives the Left to rage is that such advantages as this particular young man from suburban Westchester County enjoys are much more the product of the sort of family he comes from, and the opportunities that they enjoyed in the United States, than they are of ethnic and sexual features. Mr. Fortgangs grandfather is a standing rebuke to the entire concept of white-male privilege: Imagine the sort of moral illiteracy it takes to behold a Jewish refugee from the Nazis who has arrived with no money or connections on foreign shores to live among people who did not, let us remember, universally welcome the Jewish influx, and before the Siberian frost has even been brushed off his shoulders, to point at him and cry: Lucky you!
Give me a second and I'll channel the 'privilege' finger pointers.
You have male privilege.
You have white privilege.
You may have U.S. citizenship privilege.
You have two-parents privilege.
You have working parents privilege.
You may have height privilege.
You may have 'not-disabled' privilege.
You have "you-didn't-build-that-but-claim-to-'own'-private-business" privilege.
You have native-English-speaking privilege.
You probably had books-in-the-childhood-home privilege.
You clearly have Internet privilege.
You probably even have privilege privilege.
Now, then, aren't you ashamed?
Yeah, Except for the height privilege (I’m only 5’7”, too short for basketball) I’m overwhelmed with guilt for all my privileges.
Oh. Now I have to worry about I-have-a-bed privilege.
Oh. Now I have to worry about I-have-a-bed privilege.
Proper response: "Go get bent."
If you truly believe me to be of a “privileged” group,
you should be hesitant to criticize me out of fear of reprisal.
Now, I know it’s not minorities that live in such fear, but some other group that does...
No problem with that, until you realize Jews are only 2% of the population.
I doubt I have any disagreement with this student or his no doubt well-earned presence at Princeton.
I have a lot of problems with his ethnic/religious compatriots who have led the fight to have white people limited to no more than their percentage of the population (actually much less) at elite colleges, while allowing, indeed encouraging, Jews to exceed their percentage by 10x or 15x.
Well that was a petty observation to make on this thread.
The vast majority of Jews are liberals, and liberals constantly decry the under-representation of (certain) ethnic groups at (especially elite) colleges.
Why is it petty to point out that they don’t hold their own groups to the same standard they wish to impose on the rest of us? Which is to say, every group equally represented.
According to the Harvard website, their admitted students are presently 11% black, 20% Asian, 12% Hispanic and 3% Native American.
This adds up to 46% “minorities.” Leaving 54% presumably to be “white,” in which of course Jewish students are included.
I don’t believe Harvard releases actual statistics, but it is generally accepted that 1/4 to 1/3 of the students at Harvard identify as Jewish. Add this to the “minorities” admitted, and we’re down to somewhere between 21% and 29% of student slots available for white gentiles.
I would have no problem with any of this if all students were admitted purely on test scores or some other merit-based approach. But of course they are not, so in practice the primary result looks a lot like exclusion of white gentiles, whether that is what is intended or not.
Personally, I find these types of calculations distasteful. But since they are widely used by liberals, many of whose leaders are Jewish, to condemn America and white people for discrimination, why is it petty to point out what by their own standards (at least those they apply to others) is shocking racial and/or ethnic discrimination?
What about the International Conspiracy to take over the world and fake the Holocaust to justify it? Doesn’t that make you privileged? Huh? Huh? Huh?
And that’s nothing compared to what the sons of former slaves suffered. Why, if it hadn’t been for slavery, they’d have been back in Africa, starving or getting raped and murdered by holy warriors, as Allah meant them to be./s
Great post. It might be a duplicate but it doesn’t matter... it’s worth many reads...
From this Jewish conservative perspective, I am wholeheartedly opposed to any affirmative action and to any racial/ethnic/religious quotas in college admissions and favor a strict merit system. In schools which regrettably still employ college admissions affirmative action and/or racial/ethnic/religious quota practices, Jewish applicants are considered to be part of the "white people" group by the bean counters. If there is discrimination against Jewish applicants, it's precisely because all white applicants are discriminated against to make way for desired percentages (quotas) of African American and Hispanic students. Asian heritage students often have a fixed percentage set for them as well, but they are often discriminated against because they would outnumber their quota if a strict merit standard were used.
I don't care for Jewish leftists any more than other leftists, but I'm not exactly sure of who you refer to when you talk about "his ethnic/religious compatriots who have led the fight to have 'white people' limited to no more than their percentage of the population (actually much less) at elite colleges, while allowing, indeed encouraging, Jews to exceed their percentage by 10x or 15x." I'm unaware of even leftist Jews who advocate those policies. If anything, the Jewish left would have Jewish applicants sacrifice places in college admissions to get more (less qualified) black and Hispanic applicants admitted - a position which I staunchly oppose.
All the leftists see are groups.
And to them, all us Jews are "Jewish American Princesses" who have been spoiled rotten from working so hard and need to be knocked down a peg.
It's their Modus Operandi
If the collectivists had their way they’d do much more than that!
My privilege is the same as his.
Too depressing for words. Assuming that a lot of these are Princeton students, the best and the brightest, we are in for a lot of merde.
They don’t agree with him nor do they see the point of just leaving people alone and not focusing on race or ethnicity.
They still want to call some people better than others,and their hierarchy has, inexplicably, at the top those with darker skins period. They are so blind I don’t see how they even find air to breathe.
For example, the lesbian who commented and railed that people say “it was that black/Asian man over there” and that they’d never say that about whites, what does she think people say in a black neighborhood? Of course to hell they do say “it was that white /Asian guy over there.” In an Asian neighborhood they would do exactly the same thing, not say “Asian guy, but they’d say black or white.” DUH. And they are all that smug and just plain stupid.
Back in the day, Columbia University had a 1% (1.5%?) quota against Jews, so this institutional discrimination pre-dates affirmative action. Affirmative action merely picks up where the old time discrimination left off, and Jews are still discriminated against as a subset of white people, no doubt now viewed as a particularly pernicious subset, since we’re all supposedly either oppressing the piece-loving palis, or at least buying Israeli Bonds and Sabra and Tribe Humus, so as to enable that oppression.
Fine with me. I turned my back on a university education decades ago, and instead opted to learn something. Those who are excluded from the university system are actually lucky. They won’t have to unlearn all the leftist drivel that they’d otherwise be pumped with.
Jewish applicants are considered to be part of the "white people" group by the bean counters.
Quite right. When was that decision made, and by whom? Who decided that all the many ethnic groups from Europee were henceforth to constitute a single agglomeration to be called "white?"
I assume you are aware that 100 years ago Jews weren't considered "white" by most Americans, and quite often neither were Italians, Greeks, etc.
If there is discrimination against Jewish applicants, it's precisely because all white applicants are discriminated against to make way for desired percentages (quotas) of African American and Hispanic students.
Well, no. There is still a large "white" quota, something like 60%. Within that large quota the slots are still distributed by merit. So Jews of merit still get in at the same proportion as if only merit were considered. At elite colleges this is in the 15% to 30% range or higher, iow 7x to 15x their proportion of the population. (Or considerably higher, depending on how you determine who is a Jew.)
I assume you will agree that Jews have been highly prominent in actively pushing for affirmative action programs that prevent large numbers of otherwise qualified whites from attending these colleges. Yet, since within the white category slots are distributed by merit, very few Jews are disqualified who would otherwise have qualified to attend.
Which can easily be seen by the wildly disprortionate number attending. Few would claim that instead of 15% to 30% Jews at Harvard, without affirmative action we'd instead have 50% or 75%.
My complain is not with successful Jews, and certainly not with the young man who wrote this essay, or with you.
It's with the very large group of "progressive" American Jews who enthusiastically promote policies that disadvantage large numbers of white people, most of them less privileged than those promoting the programs.
I would be entirely happy, as would you, with admission based entirely on merit. It is probably roughly the same number of Jews would get in on that system as do now.
I would be much less happy, though I would be able to see something resembling fairness, in admissions intended to "mirror America," with admissions distributed to provide equal representation for all groups.
Here's a quote from an article about what "diversity" means in practice in America.
Most elite universities seem to have little interest in diversifying their student bodies when it comes to the numbers of born-again Christians from the Bible belt, students from Appalachia and other rural and small-town areas, people who have served in the U.S. military, those who have grown up on farms or ranches, Mormons, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses, lower-middle-class Catholics, working class "white ethnics," social and political conservatives, wheelchair users, married students, married students with children, or older students first starting out in college after raising children or spending several years in the workforce. Students in these categories are often very rare at the more competitive colleges, especially the Ivy League. While these kinds of people would surely add to the diverse viewpoints and life-experiences represented on college campuses, in practice "diversity" on campus is largely a code word for the presence of a substantial proportion of those in the "underrepresented" racial minority groups.
- See more at: http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2010/07/how_diversity_punishes_asians.html#sthash.ns6FcQRM.dpuf
What I object to is a policy that pretends to provide opportunity for all groups evenly, while in practice being a savage restriction of opportunity for one group (in reality an artificially-assembled conglomeration of groups, just as "Hispanic" is an artificially-assembled conglomeration of groups), gentile white Americans.
May I suggest you haven't looked very hard?
Here's a NYT article asking whether Princeton is anti-Semitic because (in 1999) its Jewish enrollment had dropped to about 10%, still at least 5x their percentage of the population.
This is as compared with the other Ivies, which are commended in the article for maintaining 1/4, 1/3 or higher numbers. (My understanding is that Princeton has since addressed this "problem.")
My question is this. Assuming people who think this way aren't idiots, aren't they aware that bringing "under-represented minorities" up to their appropriate representation, while at the same time recruiting 1/4 or 1/3 Jews is exactly the same thing as imposing a 25% cap on white gentile enrollment? Which is, of course, exactly what was done to Jews in the early 20th, except of course being far more savage.
During the quota period at Harvard, for example, Jewish enrollment never dropped below 15%, still far above their percentage of the population at the time. The effective quotas at Harvard today cap white gentiles at probably considerably less than half their percentage of the population. And nobody cares.
Well, no it didn't. Or, if they did, it wasn't very effective.
One of the groups affected by these policies was Jewish applicants, whose admission to some New England and New York City-area liberal arts universities fell significantly between the late 1910s and the mid-1930s. For instance, the admission ... during that period fell ...in Columbia University from 32.7% to 14.6%. 15% was still 7x or 10x their percentage of the population.
Sounds more like they had a 15% quota, not 1.5% (or 1%). 15% was still 7x or 10x their percentage of the population.
Shouldn't have had any quota at all, of course.
Sorry, the last sentence is the second italics section got misplaced. It isn’t part of the quote.
My estimate is that the [Jewish] "quota period at Harvard" lasted roughly from the 1920s (when noted alum Franklin D. Roosevelt played a key role in instituting it) until sometime in the 1960s. My guess would be that Jewish enrollment at Harvard was below 15% during the earlier parts of that period, although I have no statistics in front of me at present. There was one particular Harvard president, whose name escapes me, who was notorious in lowering Jewish admissions numbers.
When you consider Jewish student enrollment in the Ivies, you have to take geography into account as well, in that the Ivies are located in the Northeast and draw most of their students from that section in the country. The Jewish population comprises - although to a lesser degree than it did back in previous decades - a significantly higher percentage of the population in the Northeast than it does nationally. So giving the national Jewish percentage of the population as a baseline is a bit of a distortion in this discussion. Most Jewish youngsters from other sections of the US never were interested in the Ivies and instead chose schools in their region. (Also the Jewish population nationally was more like 4% in in the 1930s and 1940s, and has now gradually diminished to 2% due to low birth rates, assimilation, and relatively small immigration rates.)
My intuitive take, overall, is that the current Jewish student population, though still represented in elite schools far out of proportion to its percentage in the population, has not statistically performed as remarkably well as its parents and grandparents generations of Jewish students. Asian students now seem to be accounting for even higher percentages of elite college admissions when compared to their percentages in the population than Jewish students are.
Don't think so.
Asians are about 5% of US population. I believe it's well known there's a very real, though unadmitted, cap on Asian enrollments at elite private colleges of 20% or 4x their percentage.
Meanwhile, Jews, with under 2% of the population, comprise 1/4 to 1/3 of the most elite colleges. Or 12x to 15x their percentage, or even more.
Primarily, the creepy leftist politicians who inscribed that notion into law, regulation, and policy.
Europee should be Europe. Apparently my left middle finger stutters.
Just like "Whites", "Asians" are bunch of vastly different national, ethnic, cultural, and religious groups. Yet the affirmative action and quota bean counters lump them into one group.
I have to apologize for using the term "Asians" in discussing college admissions policies, because it is inappropriate. I'm sure there are marked differences in academic achievement and college admissions percentages among these various subgroups. (Even an Israeli is an Asian, but you can be sure that the bean counters consider him "white.")