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Remember when the word “privilege” used to have a positive meaning, denoting a personal honor or blessing of some kind? “I’m privileged to speak to you all today.” “It was a privilege to meet the President.” Good times. But as always when the Left appropriates and degrades language for its own ideological purposes, “privilege” has been perverted into a negative. It is now almost exclusively used to mean “benefits that the oppressor class appropriates for itself and denies to the oppressed.” White people are deemed to be “privileged” in all ways at the expense of minorities. Straight people are privileged at the expense of the supposedly marginalized Alphabet People. Privilege is theft now. It is oppression.
Ironically, arguably no one in America today is more privileged than the con artists of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) juggernaut, whose apparent mission is to correct such social injustices. Almost overnight, an entire industry has arisen to infiltrate and bloat corporate America, the government, even the military. So-called diversity officers, whose only expertise is in absorbing and regurgitating the neo-Marxist dogma of identity conflict, now command high six-figure salaries, oversee eye-popping budgets, and wield terrifying power within organizations to control who gets hired, who gets promoted, and who gets fired, in addition to shaping organization policies and missions.
And to what end? Why, dismantling the purported systemic racism of a white supremacist society, of course. Everything the Left does is aimed ultimately at deconstructing existing power structures to overthrow what they see as an unjust Eurocentric system that “privileged” itself through colonizing, oppressing, and exploiting non-white cultures and peoples. Ergo, “diversity” means “non-white.” “Equity” means discrimination against whites. “Inclusion” means sending whites to the back of the bus, or preferably kicking them off the bus altogether. (“Whites,” by the way, is an elastic term, as the Left uses it; it includes Jews and Asians because they do not sufficiently conform to the Left’s requirement that minorities embrace victimhood.)
Back to the word “privilege.” Dr. Sherita Hill Golden, chief diversity officer for the prestigious Johns Hopkins Medicine hospital system, recently sent a “monthly diversity digest” email to her staff which featured a section called “Diversity Word of the Month.” This month the word is “privilege,” which the email defined as “a set of unearned benefits given to people who are in a specific social group” that operates on “personal, interpersonal, cultural and institutional levels.” It “provides advantages and favors to members of dominant groups at the expense of members of other groups” [Emphases added].
Who, according to Dr. Golden’s memo, are the people in this “specific social group” who have undeservedly aggrandized the benefits available in society? Take a wild guess.
- White people
- Able-bodied people
- Cisgender people
- Middle or owning class people
- Middle-aged people
- English-speaking people
As a personal aside: I match every single one of those categories, and yet somehow I don’t enjoy the privileges of, say, multi-millionaire, multi-homeowner, Black Lives Matter co-founder, black atheist lesbian Patrisse Cullors. Where do I file a complaint about this injustice?
“People in dominant groups often believe they have earned the privileges they enjoy or that everyone could have access to these privileges if only they worked to earn them,” Dr. Golden added in the memo. Instead, she and her DEI ilk claim, the privileged are granted these benefits solely because the aforementioned characteristics place them squarely in the right identity group (as defined by the Critical Theorists of the Left). And since everything is a zero-sum game to the Left, it follows that if some are privileged, it must mean that those whose identity characteristics do not match the list are unjustly denied privileges.
Unfortunately for Dr. Golden, this offensive diversity blather found its way onto the internet and earned serious backlash on social media. X owner Elon Musk, for example, tweeted, “This must end!” Donald Trump Jr. also denounced it, posting, “The rot and racism in higher education goes so much further Harvard, MIT, and Penn (my alma mater) it has taken over virtually every institution and needs to end now.”
The backlash was so intense that Golden was forced to issue an apology to her staff last Thursday morning: “The newsletter included a definition of the word privilege which, upon reflection, I deeply regret,” she wrote. “The intent of the newsletter is to inform and support an inclusive community at Hopkins, but the language of this definition clearly did not meet that goal. In fact, because it was overly simplistic and poorly worded, it had the opposite effect,” she continued. “I retract and disavow the definition I shared and I am sorry.”
In fact, the definition was worded exactly as she intended; it absolutely conforms to the DEI worldview. She apologized only because she didn’t anticipate the outpouring of public condemnation that brought such bad publicity to Johns Hopkins. That’s what happens when you have a covert agenda but accidentally or arrogantly say the quiet part out loud.
The public outrage was so overwhelming that Theodore L. DeWeese, Dean of the Medical Faculty, and Kevin W. Sowers, President of Johns Hopkins Health System, hastened to follow up with a statement of their own, distancing themselves from Golden’s racist dogma:
Regrettably, the January edition of this newsletter, which was distributed to all Johns Hopkins Medicine employees yesterday, included a definition of privilege that runs counter to the values of our institution, and our mission and commitment to serve everyone equally.
Dr Golden heard the feedback from our community, sincerely apologized, and retracted the definition. We fully support and appreciate her decision to do so, and as leaders of Johns Hopkins Medicine, we too repudiate this language.
And so Golden was allowed to keep her lucrative position. If the institution repudiates the language and definition Golden used, which is standard DEI fare everywhere, why does Johns Hopkins even have a “diversity chief”?
This is just another in what is becoming flood of scandals exposing DEI as a destructive, racist, irrational movement. The most notable, of course, was black Harvard President Claudine Gay recently being exposed as a serial plagiarist and unremarkable academic; though Harvard and her fellow academics circled the wagons around her, the Right’s relentless focus on highlighting how DEI privileged her skin color forced her to abandon that post (yes, she kept her professorship and a nearly million-dollar salary, but it was nevertheless a significant success for the Right).
In a brand new scandal, airlines now have been revealed to prioritize diversity over passenger safety; the Federal Aviation Administration is even admitting to actively recruiting workers who suffer “severe intellectual” disabilities and psychiatric problems in an effort to be more “inclusive” of groups “underrepresented” in the field of aviation. “Do you want to fly in an airplane where they prioritized DEI hiring over your safety?,” tweeted Elon Musk. “That is actually happening.”
The push for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is finally colliding with a right-wing movement to expose it for the Marxist subversion that it is. It is a hopeful development for those of us trying to steer our culture and country back toward the shoreline of sanity.
Follow Mark Tapson at Culture Warrior