“You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with your love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free” – Tom Petty
A son of Iranian immigrants, I had never felt racism until a month ago. I was rendezvousing with a white friend in Seattle. After a day of trudging through a thin layer of snow for a late breakfast and visiting the pop culture museum and other landmarks, we went to a bar then another bar and then another. It was divey and packed. Only after the crowd parted to allow bouncers to throw a drunk guy out did we find seats.
We were tipsy and the conversation gravitated toward a touchy topic. Donald Trump had won the election a month earlier. My friend, who lives in Texas where Trump won by just nine percentage points, was mad at third-party voters. I being one of those people, she started rattling off all the reasons one should prefer Hillary Clinton to Trump. When she got to racism she said, “You of all people.”
She didn’t finish her thought but she meant that because I’m not white I need progressive whites if I’m to prosper in a world of racist whites emboldened by Trump’s ascent. Now that’s white privilege.
I thought of that conversation last week while listening to Eric July talk about equality through legislation. He said exactly what I felt at the bar that day: “This is predicated on the idea that my world can’t move unless Big Daddy Government protects me and paves the way…White folks can succeed without affirmative action but little ol’ black guys like Eric July, well, they’re just too stupid.”
Progressives claim to care about me and therefore take for granted that I should side with them. Trust them. Put my fate in their hands. Defer to their judgement instead of filling my poor little head with thoughts – they’ll do my thinking for me.
And they will make sure I have everything. They will make me equal to the white man. They’ll force companies to hire more minorities because I’m incapable of making money otherwise. They’ll raise minimum wage every other year because I’m not actually qualified to advance. They’ll tax white people more so I can have everything they have.
That is of course in exchange for my unyielding support and, should I find myself capable of some meager work, ever-increasing tax dollars. It’s less compassion, respect, and tolerance than it is political maneuvering. Otherwise they'd treat me as their equal even though I have my own views. But they don't. Their flattery is predicated on my compliance. If I'm not a minority who depends on them then I'm just a minority.
That’s not equality. It’s exploitation.
There’s no legislation that gives white people the advantage over me and I want no legislation to put me on equal footing. I would be ashamed if the referee allowed me to play by different rules so that I may compete. My agreeing to that would be an admission of my inferiority.
Whenever the left talks about equality it seems their evaluation is based on monetary worth. But if that’s how we choose to gauge our standing in society then how equal is equal enough? Must we all be in the same tax bracket? But why stop there? Shouldn’t we all have the same income? Shouldn’t my assets be worth as much as anyone else’s? I’ll let you follow that thread to its logical conclusion on your own.
Assuming it’s possible, imagine how much power the state would need to exercise to make us all monetary equals. Imagine the rights, liberties, and properties they’d have to strip away.
But progressives will tell us that’s okay. It’s in the name of equality. It’ll only affect the wealthy. And most of them are white – shouldn’t that please me?
No. If we’re all the same, if no one can do better than the next person, then neither can I. The meadow has flowers more magnificent than myself but I don’t wish for the cement truck to make me their equal. I want to grow. So be it if others grow taller.
Rather, we should be equals in the rights and liberties we enjoy. Some free people are rich and others poor but if we alone decide what to do with what is ours then we are equals under the law. Our equality is not in the size of our respective domains but in their legitimacy. The queen of a small kingdom is no less a queen than that of a large one.
Some still call it unfair. I disagree. Do what you will with your life while allowing others to do the same. It's the most noble code there could be.
And in reality there's no alternative. The government can’t tax you into prosperity. It can't make you rich or happy. If you are to be either of those, the most you can ask of government is that it stays out of your way.
That’s liberty. It’s based on the idea that the individual is intelligent and strong. That's empowering. Restriction is not.
To flourish, you don’t need more rules and regulation. You need the freedom to do as you will with what’s yours and what you accumulate. Legislative equality won’t only hinder whites. It’ll hinder you too if you strive for anything above mediocrity.