Last week, Victoria Gagliardo-Silver wrote an article titled White Privilege: A Conservative Issue. In this article, Gagliardo-Silver compels her readers to combat the issue of white privilege within American society. Citing evidence of personal experiences in which she was a victim of racism, as well as accusing President Trump of racism for calling former President Obama’s nation of origin into question. Gagliardo-Silver claims that white privilege exists in America and that white conservatives must live up to their rhetoric on equality. Of course, Gagliardo-Silver is not the only person to make this argument. But the problem with this idea, is that it is riddled with fallacies.
A Conservative Issue?
Comprehending the idea of white privilege requires one to cast aside the highest tenet of conservatism: individualism. As Barry Goldwater wrote in his seminal piece The Conscience of a Conservative,
“The conscience of the Conservative is pricked by anyone who would debase the dignity of the individual human being. Today, therefore, he is at odds with dictators who rule by terror, and equally with those gentler collectivists who ask our permission to play God with the human race.”
Categorizing the entire white race as privileged, and simultaneously labeling all people of color as victims of the white supremacist institutions of America, is the work of a collectivist who finds value solely in group identities rather than the soul of each individual.
A conservative combats the issue of tribalism for the sake of promoting individual liberty; a conservative does not combat individuals based on their tribe for the sake of liberating collective identity groups. White privilege is a concept that is wholly incompatible with conservatism’s core individualistic beliefs. More importantly, white privilege simply does not exist in America as leftists portray it to exist, making it neither conservative nor an issue.
Leftist Talking Points
When trying to convince white America of its privilege and oppressive ignorance, leftists often defend their arguments in two ways: anecdotal evidence and partial studies. Please do not misunderstand my point. I support and stand with Gagliardo-Silver condemning those who diminished her because of her race. Just like Gagliardo-Silver, I too am a member of a victimized class within America as a result of my Judaism. However, to take anecdotal evidence and castigate an entire race of America is inappropriate.
I too could ask my readers leading questions such as if they have ever had pennies thrown at them on middle school playgrounds or swastikas drawn on their school textbooks. I could ask if they have been mocked in their athletic locker rooms and told that “Hitler should have finished his job.” However, passing judgment on all Christians as privileged because of the above personal conduct of a few would be a misrepresentation. To make matters more confusing, I am also white. According to leftist talking points, I incur no net gains or losses within society as a result of my race privileging me and my religion burdening me.
Additionally, I stand with Gagliardo-Silver in her concerns expressed over the findings of the studies which she cited. However, once again, I too can point to studies that indicate large amounts of anti-Semitism in America. According to the 2015 FBI Hate Crime Statistics, 52.1% of religious based hate crimes are perpetrated against Jews. This is well over twice as high as the second highest percentage of hate crimes perpetrated against Muslims (21.9%). Does this make Christian America extremely anti-semitic?
More to the point, I could also point to studies that show that “Asian Americans do better than white Americans in school, on IQ tests, on credit scores, and on other positive measures. In fact, according to recent data from the Federal Reserve, Asians are about to surpass whites as the wealthiest group of Americans.” Does this mean that America’s founding fathers created a system designed for Asian privilege?
In the end the tribalistic leftist arguments of categorizing people and judging them by their classification is unhelpful and un-American. Our nation’s Declaration of Independence and Constitution seek to protect individual liberty. It does not promote tribal categorization and liberation. Judging individuals based on their color, creed, or category is a leftist issue. Judging individuals by the content of their character is, and must always remain, a cornerstone of conservatism.