Somehow I’ve managed to get through more than 40 years of life as a heterosexual white male without feeling guilty about it and without thinking that it made me impervious to empathy for others.
But based on the full-court press from a part of the American left who are so morally relativist, identity-oriented, and apparently angry (at me, and they don’t even know me) that they make ordinary “political correctness” look almost rational, my lack of guilty conscience represents an absence of self-awareness created by my societal “privilege.”
Stephen Parkhurst, whose viral video last year of Millennials apologizing left one wondering whether his message is one of parody or whether he is intending a serious critique, recently produced a new video entitled “White Guys: We Suck and We’re Sorry.” (The video got a lot of attention online and Mr. Parkhurst has since made the original version private. When I asked Mr. Parkhurst why he took down the video, he replied, “just thought I’d take a little break from the rape and death threats for a bit.” My separate e-mail interview of Mr. Parkhurst can be read in its entirety here.)
The basic message of the video is that Caucasian males, especially those who are attracted to women, “can’t relate” to inequality because it’s not “something we encounter in our everyday lives.” The four men whose words are woven through the video argue that since equality would mean that “straight white dudes are treated exactly the same as everyone else… and given how we’ve treated everyone else… you can see how we might not be super into that idea.”
This leads to the inevitable conclusion: “We’re terrible people.” While Mr. Parkhurst doesn’t really believe this — unfortunately his video suggests otherwise — far too many people do think the worst of people like me. (And perhaps they should since TV ads prove that all home intruders are white men.)
When it comes to straight white men, the unfounded and irrational “we’re bad people” theme is of a piece with news that Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government (“HKS”) will soon have a required course for incoming students called “Checking Your Privilege 101.” While the specific content of the class hasn’t yet been determined, the basic idea is clear: If you come from an inherently powerful group in the United States, which is defined as being a straight white man, you have inherent (and unfair) advantages in life and although you’ll try hard you’ll never really understand anybody else. And you should feel really really bad about that.