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Naked Privilege: It Ain't Pretty

March 16, 2019

 

Why are we surprised when the rich and powerful use their wealth to abuse their power?  The myth of equality of opportunity still lingers in our national consciousness like the smell of yesterday's fried fish, or like a false memory planted before were able to put words to the lie we were taught to believe.

 

We acknowledge, either openly or in some dark corners of our minds we choose not to illuminate on a regular basis, that an awful lot of people of the same racial hue "end up" being poor and marginalized, uneducated, sick, incarcerated and generally rendered null and void on the ledger of success.

 

And we even give lip service to the idea that historical -- never current -- disadvantages have resulted in some people being under-represented in the social, political and economic power grid that defines every aspect of our existence.

 

Yet despite these often begrudging admissions, we as a nation are still capable of being gob-smacked by the naked and audacious exercise of power by the powerful.

 

Take Jamal Khashoggi and MBS.  Since when is it surprising that a powerful man eliminates an annoyance?  It happens on a daily basis to millions of people considered unworthy of coverage by the media. 

 

Or Trump's border wall fiasco.  So let me get this straight, we usurp the Constitution and the Congressional mandate to control the budget, we move a few billion away from little things like elder care and healthcare, shut a few military basis -- but hey, at least we get to build a wall that nobody needs and that won't help solve the alleged problem.  And no, Mexico won't pay for it. 

 

These are raw exercises of power by folks who seem to live by the credo "nothing exceeds like excess." (Thank you Michelle Pfeiffer in "Scarface").

 

Or take this week's WTF scandal in the news: rich and powerful parents cheating any way they could to get their Little Precious(es) into top schools.  Why does it surprise anyone that the proverbial deck is stacked?

 

And how in the hell do you think the rich and powerful got that way to begin with?  Good genes?  Hard work?  Nah -- they robbed and stole and cheated and killed their way into power.  As they say, behind every great fortune is a great crime, and you don't have to know much history to proved that canard.

 

When you have privilege and power, you will do anything to preserve it, and cheating on entrance exams or bribing school officials or hiring ringers to take tests is the least you'll do to hold onto what you believe is rightfully yours.

 

And by the way, how is what these Hollywood mothers did any different than, say, endowing a chair, or building a library or a science lab at a university to gain admission for your unqualified offspring?  Or being a legacy admittee 'cause daddy or grandpa got in before you (and they were probably equally unqualified when measured by the yardstick they use on everyone else)?  Because for every one of those admittees who gained admission based on criteria not applied to the hoi polloi, one said member of the hoi polloi didn't.  That is rather the point of power and privilege -- you get to make the rules, require adherence to those rules by the masses, and disregard them for yourself.

 

In fact, how is it any different when wealthy parents are able to afford private tutors and coaches and good schools to provide their little bundles of joy with every advantage?  We act as if we believe that wealth just magically appeared to the wealthy, or that it was justly earned through merit.  But when you consider that the same privilege that created inherited wealth also created the inequality and oppression that enforces the hierarchy of power, it's no surprise that folks will sink as low as they do to hold onto that privileged status.  And BTW, by inherited wealth I don't just mean Little Mary's trust fund -- I'm talking about an entire nation of people who stepped up the ladder of wealth, privilege and power on the backs of others.

 

There is no moral imperative or even intellectual honesty involved in this kind of naked exercise of privilege.  Ironically, many of the same people currently embroiled in this latest scandal (whether they've been caught red-handed or not) oppose affirmative action of the racial variety. 

 

And still others have the nerve to decry how Asians are "unfairly" being admitted into elite universities over white kids.  Huh? One hand puts the kibosh on people of color who try to right current and historical wrongs, claiming a lack of merit; and with the other hand they put the squeeze on people of color who eclipse Little Susie's accomplishments (which were faked anyhow) on their own merit.

 

So when you look around and think about how creeping lunacy is overtaking the world, how fringe elements of, for example, white supremacists are thrashing about and picking up steam toward a man-made apocalypse; consider that fundamental principal of power, and ask yourself how far such people are willing to go to hold onto the power they stole.

 

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