The Enduring Importance of Privilege

in Culture/Philosophy

I am privileged.

Despite growing up in a poor family in one of the most impoverished counties in rural North Florida, in a century-old farmhouse with no air conditioning and a woodburning stove that we all had to huddle around in the winter.

Despite the fact that after high school I worked construction for $11 an hour with no insurance, sleeping in my car and running the heat ten minutes at a time when the cold of the Iowa winter got too unbearable.

Despite the fact I couldn’t afford to finish college, and was too busy making ends meet to exploit some of my talents or pursue many of my interests.

No, none of those things change the fact that I belong to a permanently privileged class of people – the most privileged class, according to some.

See, I happen to be a white-skinned man who has no gender-uncertainty and maintains a consistent sexual preference for women, which, according to liberal America, places me somewhere between Scrooge McDuck and Sarah Palin on the villain scale.

I’m told I can’t relate to poverty, I can’t understand abuse, I don’t know what oppression means. After all, how could a white, CISgendered male possibly have the right to an opinion on the struggles of disadvantaged classes, whose situations he views with sympathetic but insulated curiosity, like a kid munching candy while perusing exhibits at the zoo?

I’m proud to be privileged, and you should be too. Privilege, after all, is not only a worthy goal, but a selfless one.

Privilege is an important and necessary part of western culture – and more specifically of the American nation, whose government was designed to secure lasting privilege for those under it.

First, let’s establish the definition of privilege.

According to Merriam-Webster, privilege is “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.” There’s one important word to notice in that definition: granted.

Privilege isn’t privilege if it just happens – that’s called luck.

Privilege is privilege only if the benefit is given, bestowed, granted by someone else. If I buy a cheap piece of land and then discover oil, that’s not privilege, it’s chance. However, if an oil tycoon wills me his business, that’s privilege.

Why belabor the distinction?

Because most of what liberals call privilege today isn’t privilege at all. It’s luck, biology, and happenstance.

There’s no disproportionate privilege associated with being white. Leaving aside the hostility legally and societally afforded to us by modern liberalism, white people have, for thousands of years, beaten, enslaved, robbed, raped, and killed other whites.

There are exactly zero known instances of Roman soldiers rolling through the British isles and deciding to shake hands and share a pint rather than invading. They just killed and enslaved people, and took their stuff. Napoleon didn’t conduct a color test on his march across Europe. He just killed people and took their stuff. White Soviets under Stalin suffered the same fate as German Jews under part-Jewish Adolf Hitler.

To paraphrase R. Lee Ermey’s character in Kubrick’s classic, Full Metal Jacket, there is no racism here, we are all equally worthless.

The story of human history isn’t about whites loving each other and oppressing everyone else. It’s the story of every race and color abusing and destroying themselves and each other, with far less regard to skin tone than to the personal gain from said destruction.

Likewise, the fact that I’m genetically predisposed to be attracted to the opposite sex isn’t a privilege, anymore than the fact that I’m also predisposed to heart disease is oppression.

But while few things the Left calls privilege actually are, real privilege goes unnoticed and unappreciated.

I am privileged with freedom, bequeathed to me by a group of heroic men and women in the late 1700s, and maintained by the thousands of American veterans who died defending it.

I am privileged by the decision of my great-grandfather to seek a new life in the United States as the Bolsheviks threatened his home country, affording my family the opportunity to form here in the land of the free.

I am privileged by Western Culture, and its history of capitalism, reason, and Judeo-Christian morality.

I’m privileged by parents who chose to commit their lives to Christ, to stay married even when things got difficult, and to teach their children to work hard, respect others, have the courage to stand for what is right.

I was privileged to be educated at home, though homeschooling meant a single income, a weathered old farmhouse, frequent vehicle breakdowns, and growing our own food because we couldn’t even afford to order from the dollar menu.

In other words, the privilege I enjoy is a direct result of the hard work, wisdom, sacrifice, and perseverance of others, to whom I am eternally indebted.

Privilege is necessary and important, because it is the word we give to the good things passed down to us by those who have gone before. The promise of privilege is why people fight to create things that will outlast them. It is incentive to grow, build, innovate, and improve things that we ourselves will never live to enjoy.

People who mock privilege belittle the labor of those who choose to sacrifice the present for the future, and thus discourage such investment by our generation.

Sure I’m privileged, and so is every single American: from the homeless guy in the alley, to the NFL quarterback who will make my life’s earnings in a single year.

History shows that poverty and subjection are the default setting for humanity. But some have managed to break out of that loop, to create a new baseline within their area of influence through wisdom, work, and yes, sometimes a good dose of luck. Some were determined to change the game, and raise the potential of future generations by making sure that we don’t have to fight the same things they did, over and over again.

They’ve granted us – all of us – an awful lot of privilege.

And it should be our goal to create it for those who will follow us, too.


Joel Kurtinitis is a columnist for the Des Moines Register, contributing editor for The Liberty Conservative, and operations director for the US Federalist Party. Joel was a Regional Director for Ron Paul 2012 and served on the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Iowa. He co-founded Liberty Iowa in the wake of the Paul campaign, and organized the Free DC Project during the government shutdown of 2013. When not busy setting the virtual world aflame with controversy, Joel is actually an okay guy who enjoys reading, cooking, chess, bluegrass music, and an occasional foray into fiction writing. Joel and his family live in Des Moines, IA.

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