Thursday, 26 December 2013

Rachel Held Evans on the Christmas Wars

Rachel Held Evans's blog post on the CNN belief blog is by turns inspiring and disappointing. I agreed resoundingly with the latter part of her article but had some problems with its beginning.

I disliked her use of the word "privelege". It has too much of a political connotation with identity politics and neo-Marxism. Feminism, critical race theory, and gay identity politics always uses the same term to describe the wider oppressive society, which means that it is pejorative. "Privilege" sends the message that you've "got it".This in essence means that you have no right or no moral grounding to complain about anything that goes on in the area where you have "privilege". It is an emotionally manipulative way of silencing people who disagree with you. The "epistemic privelege" if I can put it like that only shifts from the majority to the minority. And, by the way, it is not at all inconceivable that the minority can have privelege over the majority. It has been the norm throughout human history.

 I agree with Evans that complaining that someone uses "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is a priggish, but I disagree with why she thinks it is wrong ( if I understand her correctly) According to the "privelege" model, if a Muslim or a Jew or some other minority religious group complained about something similar it would not be condemned because they are not in a position of "religious privilege". I find it equally priggish. Indeed, the entire reason that people are now saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" is because people complained about the fact that their religious greeting was not included in "Merry Christmas". In fact,  I object to the seasonal greeting on those grounds alone.

 I regard the whole concept of privilege to be not only nonsense but socially dangerous nonsense. It encourages bitter feeling and alienation between groups and fragments society.

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