The growing popularity of “check your privilege” and “white privilege” at Universities and in political debates is interesting.
Why is it interesting? It’s not a force for progress or positive change, it’s a form of moral warfare. That means it’s not a constructive remark that improves the debate, rather, it’s an attack that does damage the target. However, it doesn’t damage the target directly. Instead, the damage is done by weakening or breaking the moral bonds that allow the target to function in a social context.
In other words, the attack disconnects the target from the moral support of others. You can see that disconnection at work in how groups within the target group “white privilege” are fleeing from it, rather than rejecting the concept outright. For example, I’ve seen “white male privilege” as a form of attack now. I’ve also seen “white straight male privilege” being used. This divisibility of the attack makes it the neutron bomb of moral warfare. The kind of attack that’s meant to surgically remove a specific target group from the debate without doing damage to your own group.
It’s also interesting from the perspective of crowdsourcing social disruption, of the type we saw with Terry Jones and his “burn the Koran” campaign. “Privilege” as a form of attack is going to generate an aggressive, non-violent counter response from those on the right, in the not too distant future. A response that will only serve to increase divisions and make the possibility of any meaningful debate impossible.
Hope this was interesting,
PS: Here’s “privilege” taken to an extreme. It’s a spoof, but it gives you an idea on how perniscious it can be (imagine your facebook profile being used to build your “privilege” score based on this nonsense).