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Privilege check: Everyone check your privilege

5 May 2014

Cross-posted from The Molinist.
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I’m sure by now that we’re all familiar with Tal Fortgang, the (white cishet male) Princeton freshman who ‘bravely’ ‘stood up’ to those who highlight to him that, as a white cishet American male who attends Princeton, he is a beneficiary of structural privilege, in an article in the Princeton Tory (which was picked up by Time and the New York Times on Saturday, leading to my being officially behind the times with this piece [but I totally started writing this before it was cool]). Though it’s easy to dismiss this spirited defense of people no one is actually attacking as a risibly ill-argued work of privileged distress that seems wilfully ignorant of the arguments it purports to respond to (and it absolutely is those things) and as bringing no new arguments to the table (it is noteworthy only for the level of attention it has garnered), it represents an increasingly mainstream attitude towards social justice discourse and activism. So, following up on a request from Amanda Patchin, I’ll address some of the more problematic individual aspects of Fortgang’s argument in order to raise some issues with the discourse he’s engaging in. As ever with this sort of thing, I’ll be pulling quotations out of the piece and addressing them individually with an eye to the larger family of discourse under analysis, so you’ll probably want to read Fortgang’s piece, such as it is, before continuing…

Continued at The Molinist

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