“Check your privilege” is about shutting down discussion when the user is making the assertion that you are hopelessly confused in your understanding, and that your opinions amount to aggression…”
I was born in a sharecropper’s shack on a worn out dry land cotton farm in Erath county Texas. The house had not seen paint in at least 50 years. It had cracks in the walls and around the windows and doors where the frigid north wind would furl the blankets that my momma put up in an attempt to keep the wind out.
There was no indoor plumbing. There was a little brown shack out back and water was carried by hand to be heated on a wood burning cook stove for baths and dish washing. Heat was provided in the winter by a wood burning stove. There was no electricity. I read “Dick and Jane” by the light of a kerosene lamp.
They don’t get any poorer than we were. We were almost as poor as LBJ once claimed to have been as a young man: “We were so poor we didn’t know what was to be for breakfast in the morning until the old man went down to the highway to see what had been road killed the night before.” lol
Out of that came Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees–all funded by my own back breaking labor in the oilfields of West Texas and Southeastern New Mexico. There was no such thing as “financial aid” in those days. I have been a teacher, researcher and business man (currently on the board of directors of 8 different Texas corporations).
So Mr. Checker, if you think I might be where I am because of “white privilege” then just go fuck yourself.
To like minded folks, read this carefully. There are a lot of insights here relative to the handling of neo-cons, libtards, and all flavor of statist. — jtl, 419
A decade ago, no one had ever been told to “check your privilege.” Now it commands an appreciable “market share” in academia and social justice rhetoric. But it does so despite sharply opposed interpretations of its meaning. In fact, its expanded footprint is partly because of its ambiguity.
It Could Be an Invitation to Debate
In a sense, “check your privilege” largely amounts to “check your premises” behind your views, and many are willing to recognize that such a reminder can be useful in advancing conversations about social issues.
However, I question whether people are so bereft of concern for, or understanding of, one another that they need repetitive “check your privileges” reminders that imply they would believe more accurately and act more effectively if only they were more empathetic. I tend to agree with Adam Smith, in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, that:
How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortunes of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it, except the pleasure of seeing it … we often derive sorrow from the sorrows of others.
Further, repeatedly sermonizing to fix people as a way of “uplifting” them becomes little more than nagging, and any insight it may add gets crowded out. In the same way, repeatedly invoking “check your privilege” tends to destroy its usefulness leaving increased irritation and disharmony.
But the Phrase Could Simply Mean “Shut Up”
And when does “check your privilege” become code for “be quiet” rather than “evaluate your premises”? “Check your privilege” is about shutting down discussion when the user is making the assertion that you are hopelessly confused in your understanding, and that your opinions amount to aggression (whether “micro-” or “macro-”). This position was well articulated decades ago by Robert Heinlein, in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress:
Where do you start explaining when a man’s words show there isn’t anything he understands about [a] subject, [but] instead is loaded with preconceptions that don’t fit facts and [he] doesn’t even know …?
The assertion of your hopeless confusion then becomes the basis for claims that, unless you are a member of some accepted victimized class, you must be part of the oppressor class. Therefore, as Max Borders put it,
Your rights and opinions are invalid and you have no real complaints or suffering because you belong to X group. Or, more to the point, you are obligated to pay because people who look like you in some ways did bad things at some point.
In other words, others assert that they don’t need to listen to you, much less respect your arguments.
The Ad Hominen Attack
That leap involves several logical failings. Included in that list is the idea that any guilt for what was true of some members of an arbitrarily defined class or group (rather than treating people as the individuals they are) at some point in time passes on to every current and future member of that class or group. In addition, it incorporates the ad hominem fallacy that because you are judged as bad or part of an oppressor class, your argument is false, while conversely, their self-defined goodness and non-oppression means theirs must be true, both of which are unrelated to the logical validity of an argument.
Given that “check your privileges” could mean either “remember to be empathetic, so we can better understand and help” or “we can disregard your beliefs and violate your rights,” how can we tell which one is intended?
Where confusion reigns, to better understand and help requires the confusion to be replaced with clear, accurate understanding. That, in turn, requires a serious, ongoing “give and take” conversation.
However, when “check your privilege” is used to preemptively cut off conversation by stopping those who disagree from any chance to be heard, much less to rebut their demonization and targeting, no improvement in either empathy or results can result. So the key to evaluating “check your privilege” is to ask what would be entailed if it was intended to advance such a serious conversation.
How Real Dialogue Happens
Importantly, any conversation would not stop at “watch your privileges.” It would only begin there. By itself, the phrase says you are wrong in your understanding or views, but it leaves how completely unspecified, beyond having something to do with membership in some allegedly dominant or privileged group. Stopping the conversation there leaves “check your privileges” as an insult, without any ability to clarify understanding or reduce disagreements or disharmony.
Progress toward better understanding and results would require several more steps.
It would start by precisely specifying what faulty premises, assumptions, or arguments someone supposedly holds, either included or excluded inappropriately. Then it would explain why it is inappropriate for the issue being considered. It would lay out the correct or appropriate premise that would take its place and articulate the reasons why.
Building on that foundation, it would show how the “new and improved” premises would change one’s conclusions. Consequently, it would lay out the appropriate remedy based on the alternative analysis. In the process, it would have to explain how the proposed remedy cannot be explained solely on a narrowly self-interested “more for me” basis, completely apart from the argument offered, as part of laying out the new special privileges that would be created for those put forward as victims. It would also have to explain how others will be affected in order to address the asserted problem, including whether there would be coercive impositions on members of the supposedly dominant or victimizer class who had nothing to do with the “sins of the fathers.”
When “check your privilege” means think more carefully about others circumstances, which may be far different than yours, and to be empathetic, it can be useful in advancing our potential for mutual understanding. But it has to be only the beginning of a much farther-reaching discussion to bear fruit — a discussion which, carefully and earnestly pursued, would lead us back to the self-ownership and voluntary arrangements of liberty.
In contrast, when “check your privilege” is used as a magic phrase to peremptorily end “social justice” discussions, it is the assertion of a special privilege for some to be allowed to define themselves as white hats and those who disagree as black hats, without ever having to make a real argument. It also allows users to turn it into an epithet of social demonization to try to impose their “solutions,” always at the expense of the supposed black hats. In the process, it undermines social cooperation by undermining the rights upon which it is built.
All unclassified Army and Marine Cops manuals and correspondence courses are products of the US Federal Government. They are NOT subject to copyright and can be freely copied and redistributed.
The Marine Corps Institute (MCI) develops correspondence courses for Marines with all kinds of Military Occupational Specialties (MOS) on all manner of subjects. This is one of those courses.
The print is relatively small because that is the way it was in the original and this is an exact reproduction. Also, as a tribute to the individual (and a touch of reality), you will notice that the editorial pencil marks and underlined passages that were put there by the Marine that took this course. They were intentionally left in the reproduction.
This version of the course was authorized in September of 1984. With the exception the development of Infrared technology, it contains information and techniques that have changed very little since the Vietnam war. These battle proven tactics are as valid today as they were in Quang Nam province in 1968.
They will maintain their validity during the upcoming inevitable event of total economic, political and social collapse. Yours for freedom in our lifetimes. jtl, 419