Written by: Jonathan Witt
Over the past week a really silly video purporting to tackle privilege began to be shared online, as if it highlighted some great truth. After watching the clip, and reviewing its fallacious implications, I decided to tackle the content thereof in a stream of tweets which read essentially as follows:
In the video, a large group of people are gathered and offered a $100 reward for winning a race. However, before the race can begin, some of the competitors are allowed head starts in front of the others if they can answer certain questions in the affirmative.
Several of the questions which allow individuals to step forward are directly linked to their parents’ life decisions. Indeed, it turns out that if parents make good decisions about each other and money, their children will likely be better off. This is not only an obvious fact, but a well-researched and proven one.
If you are a parent, or intend to be one, but also see an injustice in this video, then you are asking for your children to be discriminated against because you made good decisions. Fathers who actually raise their children are to be commended, not have their offspring punished. Mothers who break their backs to give their kids everything they can should be lauded, not have their offspring punished.
Now, let’s deal with the kids who are disadvantaged.
It is true that the circumstances of their birth result in a lack of opportunity. However, forcing those with opportunity to feel guilt or relinquish their “privilege” is not the answer. Finding ways to give better access to opportunities to those without, is the answer. This starts with trying to ensure that individuals in society take personal responsibility for their actions and decisions. Individuals who take responsibility become parents who take responsibility for their children, thus avoiding many pitfalls.
Beyond this, we can look at methods to assist those still left behind. Equality of opportunity, however, will never mean equality of outcome; as the video shows, some individuals may get ahead because of athletic ability, i.e. genetics. In reality, this speaks to a broader concept.
There is no such thing as a level playing field for everyone because we are all different. This is a positive attribute of humanity, not a negative one. Equality is, therefore, a myth. Some individuals will be math geniuses and others sporting gods. This is true down to even the most minor differences.
This does, however, not imply that there should be no fairness; only that fairness needs to be specific in each case where it is applied. The notion that those who have excelled need to be brought down to the level of those who have not, is regressive, repulsive, and is by definition unfair.
Finally, we need to stop pretending that simply ‘acknowledging’ some supposedly unearned privilege is equivalent to an action. It is not. Acknowledging your apparent privilege does absolutely jack squat to help the kid left at the back. If you truly believe it will help, then surrender your privilege, give whatever luxury assets you have away, don’t attend quality educational institutions, and stop enjoying life’s pleasures. Apply this to your family, too, and then come lecture the rest of us. Until then, your acknowledgement has no meaning or value whatsoever.
That said, if you do follow through, please remember that the rest of us are free individuals who have no obligation to follow your path. Liberty means nobody has an obligation to buy into your guilt, your worldview, or your belief that achievement, material or otherwise, is innately linked to melanin density.
We used to have a word for people who judged their fellow man based on the colour of their skin instead of the content of their character. It is a real pity that that term has very little meaning today.
Author: Jonathan Witt is an outspoken classical liberal and co-host of the acclaimed podcast, The Renegade Report, on CliffCentral.