Have you ever been cleaning your house, sweeping the floor or vacuuming the carpet, and after hours of work, you put away your vacuum, hang up your broom, and chillax with a beer…
…and then you see it. A crumb that somehow missed the dustpan. A dust bunny the vacuum failed to suck up. A smudge on the baseboards that you just did not see until you put everything away.
What do you do?
Well, if you’re OCD about these things, as I can be sometimes, perhaps you break out all of your cleaning gear again, and go to town on the smudge, hit the floors one more time, and go through the whole process all over. Or maybe you just get up, and physically pick up the speck, or rub the smudge on the baseboard with your shirt. I’ve done that, too.
You return to your now-lukewarm beer. You got the speck this time. No more smudges. It’s time to relax after a job well done. And then you see it. Another speck of dirt… You sigh. But you’re not getting up again. No way.
This sort of thing applies to almost every corner of life. If you’re a car guy (as I also am), the small scratches and paint chips you accumulate on your daily driver can drive you nuts.
Social Justice operates like this.
If we imagine the various ills of racism, sexism, homophobia, and the myriad of other -isms and -phobias decried by the Progressives as a messy room, we can see how ending Jim Crow, passing the 19th amendment, and passing the Civil Rights Act might be seen as cleaning that room.
And the specks of dirt left in the room after we’ve cracked open that beer are the microaggressions, the privileges, and the various imperfections in the ‘level playing field’ that feature prominently in political discourse.
In many ways, I think the political Right has made a mistake in trying to say these privileges, microaggressions, and other such things do not exist. Instead, I wonder if the better approach is to point out that the carpet will never be entirely free of dirt particles. Your baseboards will never be perfect. You can break out the cleaning gear again and again, and only succeeded in rubbing the paint off the baseboards in your obsession to have perfect cleanliness.
Oftentimes there are relatively obvious things that can be done to address very blatant inequalities. Certainly, eliminating government-enforced segregation was a big one. And perhaps police reform is urgently needed in a lot of places. But after a while, you reach diminishing returns in the quest for perfection. How has affirmative action worked out?
Adam Corolla gave the example of how he wanted to become an LA firefighter, and had to wait years – in the process giving up on this desire – because he was white, and continually shuffled to the bottom of the stack. Somebody rubbed the paint off the baseboards. Even if being white is probably still a net gain in some situations, it is also a net negative in others. Imagine being the white kid trying out for the basketball team.
Intersectional privileges, in Social Justice parlance, are essentially infinite in nature anyway. That is to say each person will have a personal collection of advantages and disadvantages based on various attributes. What is gained by privilege A is lost by privilege B, and so on. I recall a debate on Twitter back in the Gamergate days, where an SJW ranted on about blue-eyed privilege. Theoretically, sure, maybe having blue eyes statistically means a 1% more likely chance of some good thing happening. But my brown eyes have never bothered me. And it is difficult to see what my brother’s blue eyes really bought him in life.
These privileges are specks of dirt on the carpet. And in some cases, a good pass with the vacuum will eliminate the worst and most visible effects – especially when those privileges are mandated by a hostile government.
But the SJWs do not know when to stop, crack open a beer, and just live with it. They keep scrubbing until the paint is gone. They keep vacuuming until the carpet is torn up. Knuckles bloody, beer expired, and angry, they just keep going.
A white woman in a kimono must be cancelled.
The Golden Girls with that mud mask stuff on is blackface, get rid of it.
To hell with Aunt Jemima syrup.
Tear down the emancipation monument.
All because there’s a speck somewhere.
When called out on this behavior, they point to the speck of dirt and say “see! Look! Racism still exists!”
Yes, it does. You’re never going to get rid of it all. Start from the assumption that humanity is a flawed creature, that individuals are full of biases you will never rid them of entirely, and that some in-group preference is unavoidable. Start from the assumption that every human has advantages and disadvantages in life, and you will not be able to level them all. There will always be a smudge or a speck.
At a certain point, crack open your beer and chill, damnit.
A different way of looking at it is defining what clean means to you. Does a clean country mean that no incidents of racism will occur? No. Does it mean there will be no monuments that offend anyone? No. Does a clean country mean every demographic permutation or ‘group privilege’ situation will be equally represented in everything? No.
Also, given that there are nearly an infinite number of potential overlapping privileges, what makes this particular speck you’re focusing on so much more important than the others?
Feminists gloss over atrociously bad male suicide rates and workplace deaths. Why is #metoo so much more important than men killing themselves, or dying in workplace accidents? It’s not so much that I want to obsess over the “men kill themselves” speck of dirt on the carpet. Rather, why is THIS speck so much more worthy of obsession than THAT speck. It’s subjective and emotionally driven. White privilege is a problem when it confers advantages over some other demographic group. But when the white kid is picked last for the basketball team, or Adam Carolla can’t even get an interview for the firefighter job he wanted, nobody cares about Non-white privilege.
Even if we conceded that, net-net, White privilege outweighed Non-white privilege (and I’m not so sure it does – SJWs tend to focus on the advantages of one and the disadvantages of the other with little balancing in the reverse direction), is the return on investment really worth it?
How much is complete fairness worth?
In Harrison Bergeron, it was worth bringing all of society down to the lowest common denominator. Is that what we want?
And let’s assume we finally figure out this one privilege in the infinite Social Justice Pantheon of privileges. Great! Only a near-infinite number more to go. What’s next? Height privilege? Blue-eye privilege?
Or maybe it’s male privilege, which is one I really find laughable. Progressives often focus on higher overall pay for men. Or the fact that women are often valued for their looks. The second one his kind of hilarious, because in many ways being valued for appearance is an advantage if you’re an even modestly attractive woman. This is a card most men can never play. It’s not in their privilege deck at all.
I ran a poll on Twitter – and let’s be clear, Twitter polls are for fun only, don’t take this as serious business – and 91.5% of folks rated “hot girl privilege” as higher than male, white, and straight privileges. Again, very biased sample set.
But if we ran that same poll out in the world and got real statistical data out of it, can anyone imagine hot girl privilege losing? I can’t. Can you?
Of course, like the others, there are disadvantages too, even there. A hot girl probably has to deal with a lot more creepers and internet stalkers than some random dude-bro.
The main point I’m trying to make here, is that SJWs and Progressives tend to be very arbitrary when it comes to selecting which privileges to be worried about, and furthermore, they tend to be very arbitrary when describing them, selecting only the disadvantages of one and the advantages of the other with little thought to a balanced comparison.
And they can never stop cleaning. There is never a point where something is good enough. The house is never clean. Nobody can ever relax, crack open a beer, and chill. Social anxiety must continue forever. Never stop cleaning. No peace.
But also, that privileges, microaggressions, and other Social Justice talking points do exist in some fashion. Saying they do not gives SJWs leverage in the argument. The speck of dirt on the carpet is real. It’s there.
It’s just that I’m not getting up from the couch second time over one speck of dirt. Oftentimes, it is not anywhere near as important or dramatic as they claim. I’m not going scrub the baseboards until the paint peels off for a tiny smudge. The ROI isn’t there.
I’ll keep a clean house, mind you. But we’re never going to have perfection. And eventually, people just need to stop, live with it, and get on with their lives.