Wear the P

Luke O’Neil at Medialite warns that there are risks in mocking the self-satisfied obliviousness of haplessly privileged college kids, who could become embittered Republicans as a result.

But screw it, let’s do it anyway. It’s unlikely we’re going to find a better candidate for a ideological stoning than Tal Fortgang, of the New Rochelle Fortgangs, who courageously struck out against the oppressive climate of basic cultural awareness and bare minimum human decency that has despoiled college campuses everywhere by penning a whinging invective against the concept of “checking your privilege” in The Princeton Tory. The piece was republished by Time, and a profile of the Rosa Parks of Ivy League white guys was published by The New York Times yesterday, something that always happens to people without privilege.

No, it always happens to people who work hard, like Tal Fortgang.

Fortgang, as many Ivy League students often do in their first few months on campus, found himself being challenged by a concept from outside of his hermetic culture bubble, when classmates began telling him to “check your privilege.” Also like most entitled white guys, upon finding himself on the opposite end of the entire world’s fawning approval, he started crying about it.

“The phrase, handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laserlike at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness, and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung.”

Fox News and other conservative outlets, perhaps reeling from the vacuum created by the Cliven Bundy-shaped hole in their hero narrative, picked up the story as well.

Instead of stopping to consider why so many people around him had begun suggesting he may want to question where some of his opinions come from, Fortgang tap-danced through a series of aggrieved conservative cliches, practically reaching Reverse Racism Bingo before the end of his second paragraph.

And that will be why Time saw fit to publish it. “So many clichés collected in one place by one so young – this is for us.”

Looking through the rest of Fortgang’s [Twitter] timeline you’ll find many other caustic clichéd opinions you’d expect from a young, clueless, aggressively aggrieved conservative. Actually, feminists are the ones with the discriminatory problem, seems to be a common theme.

The cognitive dissonance is just too good to pass up. Sure, my father became a successful businessman, he says, but what does that have to do with me? His father before him didn’t have it so great.

I’m pretty sure almost every person of privilege could say the same. I come from a relatively comfortable background, but if you go back a few generations my ancestors were shitting in holes in the ground, so therefore everything I think and say is good.

What follows in the rest of the piece is a detour into the greatest hits of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mythologizing. Maybe if people moaning about privilege simply worked harder and stopped worrying about what other people have, then they’d be in a position of privilege, like me!

Well that’s what America means. If you work hard and ignore all possible sources of structural inequality, then you can wear your P for Privilege with pride!





  1. brucegee1962 says

    There are actually white males who start out in horrible circumstances and managed to work their way up. Some of them are like Mr. Bounderby, but most of them recognize

    a) they had help along the way, they are consequently grateful, and they ought to pay it forward, and

    b) they were also lucky — they didn’t make it just because of their own personal wonderfulness.

  2. says

    The piece was republished by Time, and a profile of the Rosa Parks of Ivy League white guys was published by The New York Times yesterday, something that always happens to people without privilege.

    This! This is what irks me most though I hadn’t put my finger on it before reading this post. The mere fact that Time gave him a platform, essentially legitimizing his claim, says a lot about how much privilege he actually has. I guess we can all look forward to his future job as a talking head for Fox News.

  3. Pieter B, FCD says

    Maybe I’m being too charitable, and this whole kerfuffle was unanticipated by TIME, but I’d like to think that someone over there read the original essay, said “Can you believe this shit?!” and decided to act on the old adage that sunlight is the best disinfectant. In other words, I hope it was that someone decided to let the whole world see what a self-important little asshat looks like with his pants down, and I’m going to assume that for the moment. If National Review had published it, I’d know they approved, but I hope TIME had the Streisand Effect in mind.

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