A guest post by Doug Irvin, whose story reminds me much of my First Reader’s tales. 


Let’s talk about – – – Privilege.

It’s hard to get into a decent debate these days without someone playing the Privilege card.

“You don’t understand the struggles, because you were raised to be privileged.”

“You’re so privileged you don’t even recognize it as such.”


Okay, admittedly, some people are privileged. Some people have the road eased before them, with every door an automatic one, opening wide as they approach.

But what is wildly incongruous is that they aren’t normally referred to when the privilege accusation is thrown.


Who is? Mostly those who haven’t been privileged at all.

To give an example, I’ll use myself.


I was born in a poor, blue collar family. My mom stayed home, tending all eight children; my father worked as an air craft mechanic. He made good money, but unfortunately, he spent the majority of in on his hobby: drinking. Beer wasn’t so bad, but if someone induced him to have some of the heavy stuff, Watch Out! Many a night did I bed down with my mother and younger siblings in an old station wagon, at the local park. I guess that’s privilege. I was just blinded by the situation at the time and didn’t recognize it.


After I separated from the military, I decided to further my education. I enrolled at a local community college.


Actually, I enrolled several times. My paperwork would get lost or misplaced. Or my Veterans educational benefits would be delayed – sometimes for months. I took five quarters spaced over two years. Then I had to quit and get a job because my bills were getting outrageous.


On the other hand – and I mention this simply as a comparison – the VA coordinator on campus spent hours developing case work for several black students, who all managed to complete their requirements for an AA degree, and then matriculate to a local college or university.


I’m glad I didn’t oppress them with my privilege. I don’t blame them for trying and succeeding. I just wish the VA coordinator had deemed me worthy of half the toil they each generated. But privilege allowed me to study on my own, without accreditation for my efforts.


And later, working as a machinist, I saw several females who were advanced, who clearly did not have the skills to do their jobs. I know, because on at least two occasions the foremen handed me the job to do. Very precise, tedious, finicky work it was, too. But I made it happen.


At a later – much later – job, I was accused of verbally attacking a woman, whom I barely had contact with. I had to ask the supervisor who she was, even. And when she was pointed out, I didn’t recognize her. My crime? She overheard me chatting with another employee, amiably, on a couple of social issues prevalent at the time. Not even something we were encountering on the job. I didn’t even know she was there.


Once again my privilege struck out blindly to force others down.


My view of privilege is much different from the current definition. The guy making $100K a year and driving a sleek Mercedes? I knew his history. He struggled through college working two jobs, finally graduating a year after others did. His primary food source his senior year was Velveeta sandwiches. Without the mayo. He supplemented it with peanut butter sandwiches. His junior year was strictly peanut butter. Sometimes he had bread with it.

And his last car was a 20 year old clunker that would have made him a millionaire – had he invested in Shell Oil instead of just buying the product.


I don’t find it in me to see him as privileged because he drives a better car than I did, and makes more money than I did.


And the rather elegant woman who dresses immaculately and speaks with a careful diction that reeks high class? She grew up in a trailer, her single mother working long hours to provide for her. And those clothes? Early on, she made them herself. In fact, that’s how she started her business of fine couture, with a select clientele.


In fact, in nearly every case, the people derided for being Privileged had to work hard against tremendous odds to find success.


Ironically, those accusing them have had life handed to them, attending college financed by their parents, and spending their time objecting and protesting, instead of studying and researching.


But we have had immeasurable amounts of privilege – if you can call it that.

We’ve had to struggle, to strive, to drive ourselves to achieve whatever success we’ve achieved. We’ve paid a harsh price, and seldom complained about it. Because we knew others had similar challenges, and they didn’t need to hear about ours.


Privilege is mostly myth, pushed by those who want everything handed to them without effort. But you can’t gain true privilege without deprivation – a lack of privilege.


And those protesting against the privileged? They have the most (unearned) privilege of all.


So, I suppose they are protesting out of guilt?


3 responses to “Myths”

  1. Bert Meyer Avatar
    Bert Meyer

    I heartily agree with Doug. I have had always a hard way to go, and I don’t believe I have gone far as much as I could have. I have had a lot of opportunities that I have had, but I was stupid to use them as much as I should had have. but I have also seen some people that didn’t use that same opportunities and instead they have some cards to play to get a lot better; not by their hard work, but by their “privilege” cards.
    Not but earned privileges, but by cards just given to them by PC in society. Yes did some of they use those first card, but then did start to use them to the best way and do start to work hard to earn it. I just find it really bad that just bad that all many too get just use those cards because of just they way their were born, and just keep use those cards to get ahead. The race cards, the sex card, and even the “oh I have earned to deserve much help” card.

    but it seem all to many times that some of us are don’t give any card other than HARD work; and then because of the bias against them just because of their birth circumstances are slammed by because their deemed “privilege”. Being a white male in this PC society it is just not justice.

    I’m not being bitter ( not what I didn’t really meant, but it was the only word that I could get up right now) because of my comment; everyone has to work their own cards as best as they can and use what you have. Its just wrong that too many cards are given because the PC and hard left of “feminism”. They have turned the “even field” over into in even more tilted field.

    I wish I could explain myself much better, but I hope Cedar, that you could see what I really mean.

    1. I think I understand what you mean. We all play the cards we are dealt, but some of us get the luck of the draw… Only it’s not luck. We’ve made our luck with hard work and sweat equity. We can be wildly generous – I know Doug would give someone the shirt off his back if they truly needed it – but we deeply resent being forced to give simply because of what we were born into.

      1. As I’ve gotten older, I look at acts of personal charity with a little more forethought. YEs, if/when I see someone struggling, I’ll do what I can to help them along. I once spent $25 I could have used elsewhere to pay for a haircut a rather scraggly young man was getting – without his foreknowledge. But I’ve also see hands perpetually outstretched for gimmees by people who could have done better, but preferred to coast.
        I still want to help, but I try to be a little more discerning about it.
        And as I tell my young granddaughter when she takes a tumble playing, “get up, dust yourself off, and keep going”. I’m pleased that at this point she does it automatically.