And the Winner of the Check Your Privilege Tournament is …
… the homeless.
They got my vote. No one in this country is regarded with as much contempt and fear as the homeless.
Since it’s an economic and social state, I assume you can stack your lack-of-privilege. Black, Muslim, gay, and homeless might seem to be more less-privileged than white, Christian, straight, and homeless, but I don’t think so. People tend to be equal-opportunity haters of the homeless.
We fear the homeless. We fear that, but for a slip, an addiction or mental illness, the love and support of family, or economic ruin, they could be us. We fear them most of all because Jesus made it quite clear they’re our responsibility, and it’s one we’re least willing to shoulder.
Their final competitor was the Native American. I don’t agree, but it shows that our enduring shame over their historical persecution persists, even though contemporary anti-Indian bigotry is inconsequentially minor. Serious prejudice is in such short supply that Indian activists are reduced to complaining about sports team names. Do you meet a lot of bigots who complain about alls thems blacks and Asians and Hispanics and gays and … Indians? They’re more likely to say, “I’m 1/32nd Cherokee!,” particularly when it provides some academic, workplace, or political advantage.
My original post on the Priv Tournament was a perfectly clear mockery of identity politics. That it got comments (many of which I just deleted for being pointless and rude) saying, “O what can you possibly mean?” and “Are you saying there’s no bigotry in the world?” shows how much the myth of systemic racial bigotry has been embedded in our understanding of American culture by an academic elite.
Systems aren’t racist. People are racist. Systems, like computers, are dumb. They simply do what they’re designed to do, by policy or law. Equality under the law was slow in coming, but come it has. When bigotry and discrimination exist, they spring from the heart of man, and that’s rarely based on anything sensible or experiential. Hate comes from fear which comes from ignorance. It’s a simple formula, and attempts to force a solution by identity politics is futile. The evil in man cannot be legislated or hectored away.
Privilege in America is based on two things: money and power. Period. Have enough of either, and those identity categories dissolve away. Does a Will Smith or an Elton John still encounter people who hate them for their race or sexuality? Sure: assholes are everywhere. But it’s more likely they’ll be hated for Hancock or “Candle in the Wind,” and I think we can all agree that those are perfectly rational reasons for hate.
Elevating assholery to the status of a social/political phenomena is not really a sensible solution. Everyone hates someone or some thing. Hatred–whether it’s mild or serious, ideological or racial–tends to be irrational. Some people are hating me at this very moment, while they read this sentence.
That our history is filled with murderous and shameful racial hatreds makes it hard for contemporary people to deal with the problem right in front of them, which probably has very little to do with the forced labor, pogroms, ghettoizing, and lynchings of the past.
A bigot doesn’t look for an Asian or Jews to hate. He’s just looking to hate, and it is mostly likely a self-hatred turned outward. An Asian or a Jew is sufficiently different to make that hatred easier. Turning individual psychological pathologies into social pathologies is not a sensible solution.
We don’t break down barriers separating man from his fellow man by erecting new barriers based on identity categories. We do it by loving the person in front of us, one person at a time, even the ones who hate us. In this way, moment by moment, life by life, generation by generation, we create a more just world.
It’s not a quick or easy solution, but it’s the only one that has any chance of ever working. Simple love of neighbor–unaffected, unforced, uncoerced, Christ-inspired–is the final solution to hatred in the heart of man.