Rex Murphy: ‘White privilege’ on the march

Rex Murphy, in a typical rant, misses the point entirely and the evidence that “white” or European privilege exists. Yes, some academics and activists take this to ridiculous extremes but that does not mean that it does not exist, and that those of Caucasian origin should not be more mindful of any advantages that they have.

But to use historic examples of how whites suffered through famines and wars while being silent on slavery shows an incredible blindness, as does his silence on more contemporary examples like US police disproportionate shootings of blacks or Toronto police carding:

To even set up white privilege as a category is prima facie racist. It is to reduce the sum of a person, his dignity, his drive, his worth and his soul to the colour of his skin; it is to posit skin colour as the point of departure for all interactions with that person, to found judgments on that skin colour, to draw feverish and deliberately negative conclusions from it.

That such a pseudo-concept even exists, and has full annual academic conferences to elaborate on its tedious fancifulness, and undergraduate courses to inject it into half-formed sensibilities, testifies — one more time — to the modern university’s descent into fatuousness. That any institution which claims to be one of higher learning even allows such trivial exchange offends the dignity of expression, and purporting to offer “instruction” under its banner is just the latest fulfillment of Alexander Pope’s prophetic alarm: A little learning is a dangerous thing. Emphasis on little, very little.

Some universities have become parodies of themselves, shops of petty moral vanity, given to feverish exhibitions of their putative sensitivity and moral preciosity. Hence “trigger warnings” for Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the hysteria over “rape culture” and, as here, activist sideshows masquerading as academic courses. (Exhibit A, from Columbia University’s Spectator: “Ovid’s Metamorphoses is a fixture of Lit Hum, but like so many texts in the Western canon, it contains triggering and offensive material that marginalizes student identities in the classroom.”)

It is to the great shame of modern universities that they have debased themselves to the pursuit of these follies

The obsession of seeing everything in race-coloured terms is itself racist. Anti-racism pursed by zealots transforms itself into the very vice it deplores. This is the cost of identity politics, and its close bedmate, victimology enterprises — the desire to judge, define, represent and indict the individual by the group he or she belongs to. Every human being’s experience in its infinite particularities and potentials transcends category.

It is to the great shame of modern universities that they have debased themselves to the pursuit of these follies, and that they do not cast this cant aside as being hollow, sublimely tendentious and utterly shameful to the idea of, or the aspiration to achieve, an educated mind. Wasn’t Doctor King’s most famous prayer that he hoped to see the day “when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character?”

Fatuousness is not limited to universities as Rex demonstrates all too well.

Rex Murphy: ‘White privilege’ on the march

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

2 Responses to Rex Murphy: ‘White privilege’ on the march

  1. gjreid says:

    Stirring up the red-faced rage of angry old white guys like myself is fun sport I suppose but it is fairly counterproductive and under the bumptious rhetoric it betrays a huge dollop of sniffling self-pity. We had a pretty good run. Rex should relax.

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