Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Male Privilege
All right, Tal Fortgang, you’re a clever lad, and a credit to my alma mater. You make some good points, noting that your immigrant grandparents fled the Nazis, and that a working class Jewish kid does not neatly fit in the “white male privilege” cohort.
I get that your father’s parents and your parents did not come from money, and your being at Princeton is a testament to their hard work and your presumed intelligence. In that, you and I are a lot alike.
But, holy shit, Tal Fortgang, you are still clueless. Before 1950 or so, Jews were not even admitted to Princeton. You’d be singing a different song if you had applied back in 1914.
And despite the lofty prose of this excerpt, the opportunity to claw one’s way up the social ladder still depends on your gender, your skin color and your mother tongue. You are committing the same sin of over-generalization as those who lump you in the “white male privilege” group by virtue of your pale skin.
That’s the problem with calling someone out for the “privilege” which you assume has defined their narrative. You don’t know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are. Assuming they’ve benefitted from “power systems” or other conspiratorial imaginary institutions denies them credit for all they’ve done, things of which you may not even conceive. You don’t know whose father died defending your freedom. You don’t know whose mother escaped oppression. You don’t 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.
I will note that this piece appeared originally in The Princeton Tory, “a magazine of conservative and moderate thought.” Kinda like the junior National Review.