Notes from the Publisher

White Privilege?


Essayist Tim Wise just wrote a piece on white privilege in the campaign.  Let's look at what he says:

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.

This has multiple mischaracterizations.  First of all, I think we all can agree that the fact that we have a culture in which kids are having lots of sex before marriage is an arbiter of social decay.  This includes Bristol.  The question is whether or not the Palin family is unusual in this respect.  The answer is - they are.  Bristol is having, not aborting, the baby, and marrying the father.  This isn't an ideal situation, but it's an ideal response to the situation.  No one - I repeat - NO ONE - is criticizing Obama's mother for having Obama out of wedlock.  They are being treated equally. 

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.

In a crowded city environment, it is always wrong to fire weapons.  In the open country it is not.  This is no different than if inner-city white kids would say the same thing.  It has nothing to do with white or black, but the location where it occurs.  I don't know anything about Levi, perhaps he is an evil person.  But I think this is quite the over-reaction.

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.

I don't know anything about Sarah's academic qualifications - but her intelligence has certainly been questioned many times.  To imply that it hasn't is simple ignorance.  From what I've seen, I don't like Sarah for being smart (she's not the brightest one on some things) but for fighting corruption.  Let's also look at that last statement - "probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action" - that's exactly the problem with affirmative action!  This is specifically one of the reasons it has been criticized - it leaves the class of people being "affirmed" being continually looked down upon no matter what their achievement is, because no one knows if they really achieved it or not!

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.”

The question is about executive experience.  Palin has more executive experience than the other three players combined.  In America, we have a history of electing governors rather than senators for office.  And, even in her short tenure, she has, from what I've heard, a record for cleaning up politics.  This preference for governors has been near-universal for the last half-century, so this isn't race, it's American politics - we have, with or without the issue of race, always considered governorships to be more prepertory for president than other positions.

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 believing that reading accused criminals and terrorists their rights (because, ya know, the Constitution, which you used to teach at a prestigious law school requires it), is a dangerous and silly idea only supported by mushy liberals.

I don't disagree that this was a gaffe, but my guess is that most citizens don't know the history of "under God" in the constitution - but that is what most people like about Sarah - she's a citizen-politician, not a politician-politician.  It would be great if she knew more about the history of some of our traditions, but it isn't disqualifying that she doesn't.  And, she doesn't think that reading accused criminals their rights is dangerous.  This is simply a misrepresentation.

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

This is idiotic.

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 was “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.

This is actually funny, especially considering that Todd isn't white, he's Indian.  Since when are race-baiting liberals against Indians who want their own land?  Oh, that's right, when they're conservative.  As a state's rights supporter, I'm actually fairly sympathetic with AIP (don't read too much about them - I know only what's in the paragraph above + Wikipedia).  They actually aren't, as a party, for Alaskan independence, but rather that Alaska be presented with all of the choices, which also include becoming a U.S. territory again, or a U.S. commonwealth, as well as remaining a U.S. state. As to the reference to Michelle, if there is any problem with it, I don't think it has to do with race, but rather conservative bias towards democrats.  However, I do know that the day before she was speaking in Toronto (I think) in support of Obama, so it's not likely that she's just staying home to be with her kids like everyone tries to make it out.  It's possible, but not likely.

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--you’re somehow being mean, or even sexist.

No one is making fun of community organizers.  This is simply a misrepresentation.  Obama put out "community organizer" as an instance of executive experience, not of being a good person.  No one was criticizing his goodness, only whether or not it qualifies as executive.

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 all of a sudden your presence on the ticket has inspired confidence in these same white women, and made them give your party a “second look.”

You don't think this would happen with any woman on the ticket?  Would you also be complaining if this happened with Hillary?

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.

Hmmm... Palin ran as a reformer who was going to remove corrupt people from power.  Who do you think opposed her?  Maybe corrupt people?  And Obama didn't "merely know" these people, these were the people who launched his career.

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.

This is probably the one legit claim he has, if it is true.  I've seen Palin misquoted many times about what she says about religion, and this is possibly another instance.  But if it's not, it will be the lone valid claim on the list.

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.

I haven't seen or heard about the Bill O'Reilly interview, but I know O'Reilly criticizes everyone.  As for the Bush Doctrine question, I don't disagree that the failure to know the Doctrine is a failing on her part, but I also think that she rightly perceived it as a trick question.  Any agreement with the Bush doctrine would have been viewed as automatic agreement with everything Bush has done.

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 is, as Sarah Palin has referred to it a “light” burden.

I haven't seen these claims, but I would say that in comparison McCain's burden was greater.  McCain, however, does not say he should be a President because of his POW status, rather he shows how being a POW has shaped his moral development, which is a different issue altogether.  In his convention address he shows how being a POW changed his attitude towards love of country and others, not how it qualified him for president.

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 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…

What on earth does that have to do with race?  This article isn't about Racism, it's just using Racism as an excuse to do mindless Republican-bashing, and be praised for it.

Some people just can't take the idea that American's simply don't care what the color of Obama's skin is, and we tend to vote conservative.  But that's just too much for the Race-baiters to handle.