An amazing story about recent Phyllis Schlafly comments came across my news reader yesterday. It is one of those stories so amazingly stupid, you can’t believe it is true, while at the same time, the real ness of it can not be overlooked. It does, I believe speak to racism, but that term is baggage-filled and possibly not so useful. So I’m going to put this in another context: conservatism and White Privilege.
When we talk about racism, too often a leap is made immediately from something being racist, to the person saying or doing it being a racist. It may or may not be true, but either way, the leap is unhelpful. For the real solution is to dismantle the systemic and structural mechanisms that support the mindset and ability to say or do the racist thing in the first place. Those systemic and structural aspects are Privilege, and in terms of racism, are rooted in White Privilege and Male Privilege.
Culturally, we have a built in resistance to criticizing Privilege. Growing up, we learn that if we are good, you get privileges. They serve as rewards and markers for success. Our culture also supports winning at all costs, so getting the prize or privilege is more important than the how we got there, and great rationalizations exist to thwart questioning this. It isn’t the rewards itself which are the issue, rather the justifications used to unthinkingly promote their righteous.
Schlafly is on record claiming Hispanics are not like the GOP, because of illegitimate pregnancies and an inability to understand the Bill of Rights. She divides people into groups: the GOP and Hispanics and then demarcates how that are different but from a single vantage point, a place of white privilege. She doesn’t examine sexual behavior in both groups but begins with the assumption that the othered group is different and less than.
The conservative activist lashed out at Latinos during an appearance on the Clay and Marty Show last week, saying Hispanics don’t understand core principles of U.S. government philosophy and have too many kids out of wedlock.
She recommended that the GOP abandon efforts to win the Latino vote, saying it is a waste of time because of fundamental ideological differences.
“I don’t they have Republican inclinations at all,” Schlafly said. “They’re running an illegitimacy rate that’s just about the same as blacks are.”
You can claim there is nothing new about racism or Privilege like this, and I won’t really argue too much. The structural basis of othering is the same as it has ever been. Consider how, during Mc’Cain’s run for Presidency, the Vice Presidential candidate’s daughter, a white person, was illegitimately pregnant. The wedlock part is missed utterly by Schlafly. Her effort is to keep the GOP white, and preserve Privilege.
Schlafly’s purpose is to promote Male Privilege too. Consider that slave owners had a right to use any female slave as a sexual object, which could result in illegitimate births. Yet Schlafly blames blacks as well hispanics as having too many bastards. This is the essence of Privilege!
If we are to end racism, we have to grapple with the underlying purpose for racism. It is a power dynamic weapon used to other another group or persons and maintain privilege. The urgency is however, that racism doesn’t only maintain privilege. It actively harms others in the process. Otherwise, we could simply let White Privilege die out. But we can not allow such harm to continue.