White males too often are being painted with the same brush
Decades back, I took a class on logic. This was the early 1980s, so excuse me if the details are foggy – just protecting my possible appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court – but I remember logic class as a slog because it involved reading the old Greeks and memorizing Latin phrases like ad hominem.
One particular afternoon still stands out.
The professor, who I remember as Some Guy With A Bushy Beard, spent a fun hour driving home the association fallacy and its cousin, guilt by association, with an exercise that induced fits of laughter – which is clearly illegal on college campuses today.
The assignment: Come up with every possible stereotype about the people around us. This had my classmates and I shouting out lines like “All blondes are dumb” and “All black men are criminals” and “All Asians get A’s in calculus.”
In 2018, Professor Bushy Beard would have been fired and vilified on CNN for that curriculum. But his class drove home the point and it has remained etched in my memory for 35 years.
Fact: It is illogical in the extreme and absurdly stupid to judge all members of a group based on the actions or qualities of some members of that group.
Which brings me to the concept of “white male privilege.”
Do I think this phenomenon exists? I do. But rather than being bestowed upon every white human born with male anatomy, I think white male privilege functions more like an American Express Black Card. It’s highly restrictive. Only a few, perhaps one percent of one percent, ever get the invitation.
The rest of us – and having been a white male for 53 years, I feel eminently qualified to speak on this subject – actually must work for and earn what we achieve in this life, just like everyone else.
To over-generalize and act like everything accomplished by a white male has been made a cinch by skin color and gender is every bit as offensive as racist statements like, “Of course Lebron James is a great basketball player. He’s a black guy.” Or assuming that every Mexican is an illegal immigrant. Or treating every Muslim like a jihadi terrorist.
Look, I get it: White males have had a good run over the past 2,000 years. And currently, our country seems to have an inordinate number of white male dumba**es in positions of power, beginning with our President.
But just because Donald Trump was born standing on third base and thinks he hit a triple doesn’t mean the other 100 million American white males have been similarly gifted.
Regardless, some of you surely believe that white males being called out and mistreated represents just desserts after centuries of racism, sexism, bullying, homophobia and other sins regularly used to tar white guys in 2018.
Maybe it’s our turn and we should simply shut up and take it. Maybe white male privilege is an affliction like certain cancers, free of symptoms, a disease so subtle you don’t even know you have it until it’s too late.
Maybe all those years of hard work and struggle have been simple self-delusion. Maybe the only thing white guys like Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett or John McCain ever had going for them was their whiteness and maleness.
Sure. And every black male has seven kids by nine different women. And every Jew will screw you for three cents. And every immigrant from New Delhi owns a convenience store. And blah, blah, blah.
Excuse me while I go check the mail. Maybe today’s the big day when my White Male Privilege Amex finally arrives. But probably not. Probably not ever.