Recently the media were collectively wise enough to republish a college freshman's op-ed in a student newspaper because history has proven that 19 year old white kids usually have the most important and interesting things to say. A monstrously ugly child named Tal Fortgang, which I pause to remind you I did not make up, went from the typical Princeton freshman to a guest on major news networks overnight. OK, so it helps if you're telling them what they want to hear. But say the right things and you too can go from masturbation enthusiast to Hannity guest in the blink of an eye, teens!
Fortgang has become the planet's leading authority on white privilege, which is remarkable given that he does not appear to have the slightest idea what the phrase means. His opus is basically the typical "Several generations ago my family was pretty poor, therefore I deserve what I have" argument that is second only to drunken copulation in popularity on college campuses.
Perhaps it’s the privilege my grandfather and his brother had to flee their home as teenagers when the Nazis invaded Poland, leaving their mother and five younger siblings behind, running and running until they reached a Displaced Persons camp in Siberia, where they would do years of hard labor in the bitter cold until World War II ended…Or maybe it’s the privilege my grandmother had of spending weeks upon weeks on a death march through Polish forests in subzero temperatures, one of just a handful to survive, only to be put in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she would have died but for the Allied forces who liberated her and helped her regain her health when her weight dwindled to barely 80 pounds.
Perhaps my privilege is that those two resilient individuals came to America with no money and no English, obtained citizenship, learned the language and met each other; that my grandfather started a humble wicker basket business with nothing but long hours, an idea, and an iron will—to paraphrase the man I never met: “I escaped Hitler. Some business troubles are going to ruin me?”
Tal, I think I finally get it. White privilege is a sham. Let me share a bit of my own story to drive home your point.
My grandfather was a humble turd miner, digging in the hard, feculent ground for 18 hours every day across the fertile turd deposits of eastern Poland. Every day he walked uphill several miles to work, and then because of the way the planet rotates he also had to walk uphill to get back home. He and his wife, who cleaned toilets with her tongue because she could not afford a brush, lived under a bridge and had nine children, none of whom survived. Every day they ate a single bean cut into quarters, half for breakfast and half for dinner. They also had a dog who was poor.
That was my father's family.
On my mother's side, my grandfather licked the mosses off of damp rocks for sustenance when he was forced off of his land by the Potato Famine and also by Hitler. Then he fought Hitler and his Nazis and beat them even though he was so poor that his rifle had no barrel because he had to pawn it for a potato. This brave man beat up Hitler with a rifle that, when you think about it, was really just a piece of wood. Then he met and married my grandmother who was dancing for pennies in the poorest part of Latvia. They realized that in Latvia there was no freedom because of Hitler and communism, so they came to the United States and humbly opened a very humble business making low-grade solid lubricants from rendered street children. It was arduous work since almost to a child, the children resisted being reduced to grease. While they slept they made extra money by doing the whole town's laundry. They never complained about what hard work it was.
All of my grandparents worked hard and sent their children to Harvard Yale State, where they studied hard and got degrees in American Values. They had two children while they were in college and never once asked for any help, which may partially explain why my sister disappeared from the yard one day in 1983. I grew up to be a strong, hard working, respectful lad who knows a few things about life such as when it is not worth it to chase after a van that has just kidnapped your sister.
Why should I have to apologize for anything? Isn't being poor and understanding the value of hard work transmitted genetically, after all? As long as I am the descendant of some people who were not rich assholes, it is impossible for me to be a rich, privileged asshole.