Privilege Watch, Mini-Case File #1.5: The Color of Money

[Hopefully there’ll be another, more in-depth case file by the end of the week]

When you’re a religious group with a long history of intolerance and racial animus like the Mormons, interfering in the democratic process to legislate your sexual mores isn’t just something you do in the state next door. It now looks like the Mormon church is employing its financial resources to derail the Equality Bill in the United Kingdom, a broad piece of legislation to bring together several already-enacted anti-discrimination measures.  They have retained a distinguished law firm with the aim of building a coalition of religious groups to protect every Englishman’s right to bash gays (or at the very least ensure exemptions for religious organizations).

Meanwhile, if you’re a Muslim-American charity founded to help children and families victimized by an illegal occupation, your government will distort evidence and make wild, unfounded assertions in order to convict you of “material support for terrorists”, a charge so nebulous and subjective it resembles a Rorschach ink blot.

So, to quickly review: Providing essential supplies to the victims of a brutal military siege? Illegal!

Funding cultural and sexual imperialism so you and your fellow bigots won’t catch the gay cooties? Hell yes!

Privilege Watch Case File #1: First They Came for the Dead White Men

While my introduction to Privilege Watch focused primarily on race, my first case file will also touch on sexism and Christian privilege. The latter is something that I feel I’m exceptionally sensitive to. As a Jewish atheist, public presumptions of faith, especially Christianity, are glaringly obvious to me in a way that it seems Christians don’t recognize. Partly I attribute this to my summer internship in atheist activism with the Secular Student Alliance, but I also think that the experience of exclusion clues one in to the reality of the dominant culture. As Womanist Musings puts it:

“If you are gay or lesbian you’re an expert in heterosexist culture and how it marginalizes the various sexualities because for the entirety of your existence you have had to negotiate it to be able to survive.  If you are of colour you are an expert on white privilege and racism because for the entirety of you life you have been assaulted by it.  If you are differently abled you are an expert on abelism because for the entirety of your experience you have been denied access by others, or told to capitulate and remove yourself from any and all social actions.  The oppressed are experts because we live it every damn day of our lives.”

Obviously, I can’t claim to have experience with those specific oppressions, but I think that this idea will be a running theme of Privilege Watch – namely, that minorities, be they racial, sexual, gender, religious, or ability, often know more about their dominators than they do.

Anyway, today’s case file starts with this Fox News clip. You can also see this at the wingnut propaganda site The Fox Nation under the wholly misleading title, “Guess Which Words Are Banned From Your Kids’ Textbooks?”:


I saw that sneer, Steve Doocy! Just for that you deserve a smack upside the head.

Continue reading “Privilege Watch Case File #1: First They Came for the Dead White Men”

Privilege Watch: An Introduction

It seems that ever since Obama’s election, affluent white hetero Christians – by far the most economically and politically powerful bloc in the country, far beyond their real numbers – have suddenly been waking up in the middle of the night, screaming “Holy shit, I’m not nearly as privileged as I used to be!” Their hysterics are prima facie absurd, in that their money and influence is still enough to, for instance, block necessary health reform and hate crimes legislation. If, as Bill O’Reilly says, the white Christian power structure is under serious attack, it seems to be fairly shrugging off the blows.

At the same time, though, these charges are pretty dangerous. Let’s leave aside the fact that (to use the above example) if health care isn’t reformed, millions will remain uninsured and suffer serious health consequences. I mean that conservative demagoguery can seriously fucking kill you. If puns really are the lowest form of humor, I’ll dub this list

Right-Wing Assholes’ Greatest Hits!

  • The vicious and unsubstantiated charges leveled at Dr. George Tiller by Bill O’Reilly and other anti-choice fanatics created the hateful atmosphere that led to his assassination.
  • A 22-year old white supremacist’s shooting of three Pittsburgh police officers came after an extended stroking of his paranoiac love gun by Glenn Beck, who waxed rhapsodic about FEMA concentration camps.
  • Jim Adkisson’s shooting of a Unitarian church in Tennessee was prompted by his hatred of liberals and Democrats. His desired targets included the 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America listed by Bernard Goldberg.

These are not fringe incidents. The direct perpetrators may not be considered part of the mainstream, but they share a significant and critical affinity with the vanguard of the social conservative movement: namely, the belief that they are defending a traditional, god-given social order from dangerous outsiders. Continue reading “Privilege Watch: An Introduction”