I can’t help but feel for Mr. Fletcher when learning about the letter he describes in his column “Racial Prejudice in Modern B.C.” That would be because I – due to factors entirely beyond my control – share many of those contemptuous labels thrown at him (Caucasian, cisgender, male… Oh my).
In seriousness, the kind of rhetoric where the rush to label in the language of identity politics takes precedent over arguments rooted in logic and reason is inherently regressive and needs to be put away for good.
In the course of discussion to passive-aggressively order someone to “check their privilege” leaves the boundaries of constructive dialogue as the framework has shifted to attacking the person instead of their ideas.
The ideologues of identity politics aside, it should be apparent to a thinking person that the comparing of select privileges across individuals without knowing the myriad of individual circumstances that make us all unique is an exercise in intellectual futility and outright harmful.
It doesn’t take much imagination to see how easily the “privileges” eagerly assigned to others (most often based on an observable factor at the expense of the innumerable unobservable ones) can become the new “prejudices”.
Instead of preaching privilege theory we would be wise to revisit the adage that went something like: “judge not by the colour of one’s skin, but by the content of one’s character.”
Regarding the university student who wrote the letter, I can’t help but wonder if she’s aware of her remarkable privilege to express her views that, an entire race of people, possess a “culture [that] knows nothing but greed” while facing no repercussions whatsoever under any of UBC’s policies or our country’s hate speech laws. Never mind “checked”, that is one privilege that ought to be revoked outright.