John Scalzi, who once excoriated The Spearhead for a sci-fi piece written by anti-feminist tech, has taken the holy burden of telling white guys how privileged they are upon himself. Writing for Kotaku, Scalzi compares white male privilege to having the easy setting turned on when playing a video game:
Dudes. Imagine life here in the US – or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world – is a massive role playing game, like World of Warcraft except appallingly mundane, where most quests involve the acquisition of money, cell phones and donuts, although not always at the same time. Let’s call it The Real World. You have installed The Real World on your computer and are about to start playing, but first you go to the settings tab to bind your keys, fiddle with your defaults, and choose the difficulty setting for the game. Got it?
Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.
One might wonder why a gaming site would publish a piece virtually guaranteed to alienate its key demographic, but such are the times we live in that political correctness demands tribute from all.
Before Scalzi came up with this analogy, the old explanation was that white folks – men in particular – have “invisible backpacks” that contain privileges. That one didn’t work all that well, because, well… it just doesn’t sound all that plausible. So the video game comparison is a little better, as it uses an activity that is very popular with young white males to make the point rather than relying on magical backpacks.
A lot of us might ask why some white people are such firm supporters of the idea of white male privilege. Are they masochistic? Do they hate themselves and their race? Or are they simply morally so far above the rest of us that they are willing to sacrifice themselves and their children for the benefit of other peoples?
Although it’s difficult for most to see (but not invisible), it is none of the above. They are as self-interested as anyone, and they’ve got every reason to support the notion of white male privilege. It’s really a numbers game, and it’s about maintaining their increasingly implausible lifestyle.
To see where they’re coming from, first you have to understand that straight white male privilege both does and doesn’t exist. White privilege can only exist in a multiracial setting. It cannot meaningfully exist in, say, North Dakota, because there are virtually no minorities. Without minorities, whites have no relative privilege. White privilege definitely does not exist in Latvia, and it exists only to a lower degree in places like Seattle and Portland, where whites still have a fairly large majority. However, in places like Los Angeles, white male privilege is very real, and is exemplified by people like George Clooney. If it didn’t exist, I suspect there would no longer be whites there in meaningful numbers; they would flee.
So why is it that those who do benefit from white male privilege are the types most likely to make an issue out of it? Shouldn’t they be keeping their mouths shut? Well, this is how they’re tricky. By denouncing all white males as privileged, they are universalizing guilt. Imagine someone is caught cheating on worker’s compensation, and rather than take the blame and pay for it himself, he says “this is a systemic problem; everyone does it, and therefore everyone must pay for it.” He can then say that rather than have to pay it back himself, everyone should chip in and lighten his burden. This is exactly what white liberals are doing, because having privilege does have high social costs.
First, you have to pay off angry minority political factions who want a cut as well. Then, you have to pay the mainly-white unions who keep things running, i.e. teachers, policemen, prison guards, firemen, etc. Finally, you have to over-regulate business and real-estate to preserve your pristine white neighborhoods. It’s really, really expensive, and requires a heavy tax burden. Urban California is the perfect example of this system.
So, as in California, white liberals living in minority white or only half-white cities in the US are increasingly turning to everyone else to keep them afloat. And, of course, they are going after the group which, due to its numbers and relatively low expenses, has the means to foot the bill — white males. Does the Alaskan fisherman or West Virginia coal miner really have meaningful white privilege? Of course not, but he does have a fairly respectable paycheck that can be taxed even more. And what better way to justify taking more of his money than by arguing that he owes it to liberals’ urban minority neighbors because life is easier for him? If white liberals can only spread the guilt a little more, they’ll get some breathing room, and they won’t have to foot the bill for their lifestyles alone.
However, the Alaskan fisherman and West Virginia coal miner are not so stupid, and they are every bit as self-interested as the white physician in, say, the Bronx, who depends heavily on federal tax money to keep himself in business. They will not buy this notion of privilege, so it is really just political grandstanding. But it does get a little more vicious than that. There is one group that is largely powerless against these kinds of ideological assaults: children. And children are exactly who tend to get hit by the compromise policies. Unfortunately, they are usually children who do not have any privilege, because their parents can’t afford to insulate them or simply haven’t had enough foresight to look out for their future interests.
So, in the future, people like John Scalzi can justify screwing disadvantaged white boys out of a fair shot by saying he’s fighting white privilege. It won’t affect his kids, because he knows the system, and he can cultivate friends in high places — friends with white privilege. And anyway, keeping poor and working class white boys out of the running is a feature, not a bug. This means the privileged white guy has all the less competition to worry about when trying to set his kids up. As for the poor white boys, well, as callous people love to say, you’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelette…