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Apr 28, 201407:38 AMBlaska's Bring It!

with David Blaska

White, middle-aged (plus), and male? I plead guilty as hell!

(page 1 of 2)

I skipped last week’s “Together Apart” panel discussion on race at the First Unitarian Society. You can’t have a true dialogue until you invite folks like Dr. Ben Carson or Sheriff David Clarke. Or Paul Ryan.

Instead, your humble Squire strapped on the electrodes for the Buzzfeed quiz to determine his level of White Privilege. He scored 72 out of a possible 100 points. That makes Herr Blaska pretty white, but not as white as Mitt Romney or Chip from My Three Sons. (That dude made Wonder Bread look funky!) I blame my parents, both of whom contained suspiciously low levels of righteous melanin. Yes, we watched The Lawrence Welk Show. The Lennon Sisters were our favorites (although these days I lean toward the accordion-jamming of Myron Floren, the Happy Norwegian).

Some of the indications of “privilege” on the quiz include:

  • I have never been told I “sound white.” [I’ve never been told I sound black, either.]
  • My parents are heterosexual. [Most are, are they not? At least for a moment?]
  • I am a man. [Here me roar.]
  • I have never felt unsafe because of my gender. [Unless you count the draft during the Vietnam War. Some of my high school classmates have their names on a wall.]
  • I have never been homeless. [My wife made me sleep in the basement one time. I liked it down there.]

Turnabout is fair play. John Hawkins at TownHall provides 15 examples of “liberal privilege.” Here are the first five:

  1. You can commit a crime and your local newspaper usually won’t mention what party you’re in if you’re a Democrat.
  2. You can be a white liberal who viciously mocks black men like Clarence Thomas, Allen West, and Ben Carson without being called a racist.
  3. You can be a Communist or a radical Islamist, you can hate America or even engage in acts of terrorism and still get a job as a college professor. In fact, it probably makes it more likely you’ll be hired.
  4. You can live in a mansion, fly around in private jets and consume more energy than a small town and still be taken seriously when you say we need to cut back on our lifestyles to fight global warming. (Me, I’m doing my darndest to cause it.)
  5. You can hold a conference like Netroots Nation that’s as white as any Tea Party without having people suggest that your event is somehow “racist” for not having more minorities present.

No asterisks, please

No problem with adding two more saints to the pantheon. I’m old enough to remember the good Sisters of Notre Dame at Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Elementary School crying at the death of Pope Pius XII in 1959. That World War II pope was John XXIII’s predecessor. John XXIII and John Paul II were canonized over the weekend via special dispensation: John 23rd for lacking the second miracle while the normal process was hurried up for JP2. Santo subito!

Before achieving full sainthood, one is recognized as “blessed” and before that as “venerable.” Which puts me in mind of the Venerable Bede. Every so often you hear about the man all these 1,300 years later. He was an English monk who died in 735. The year seven-thirty-five! How much longer must the poor fellow wait? He must have the patience of a … Santo subito!

Perhaps I should begin a Facebook page on his behalf. “Bede — more speed!”


Old to new | New to old
Apr 28, 2014 08:30 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Privilege is tough to think about. If you're a guy who worked hard in school and at your job, weathered some rough patches along the way, and never found life to be particularly easy, it's probably not going to ring true that a lot of privilege was involved. John Scalzi, a sci-fi author and blogger, puts it differently, trying to get guys, in particular, to understand the concept without getting defensive: "In the role playing game known as The Real World, 'Straight White Male' is the lowest difficulty setting there is."

Ben Carson is an interesting guy. As for the Ryan and Clarke, both are politicians. We've heard a lot of what they have to say and neither has been very effective at doing anything other than getting their faces on TV.

Apr 29, 2014 08:10 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

As I commented in WSJ--

Part of my white-guy experience: I have been instructed that 1. blacks know everything about me; 2. I cannot possibly know anything about blacks; 3. anything that comes out of my mouth will undoubtedly be merely an expression of my ignorance and insensitivity; 4. I am inherently racist; 5. non-whites cannot possibly be racist; 6. I am a personal representative of all those terrible white people throughout the ages; 7. I should have a passion for engaging in discussions around race relations. Sorry, but 1 plus 2 plus 3 plus 4 plus 5 plus 6 does not equal 7.

-- and the next day, sure enough, a black guy 'described' myself to me. Whatever.

Apr 29, 2014 02:25 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

Once I saw the names and backgrounds of all those folks that were invited to analyze and resolve the "Together Apart" issues, I knew their solutions before they did, so I found my attendance as a privileged white person would probably not make a difference. So I decided not to attend. Gee, perhaps we should invite the same number of privileged whites to a conference and expect their solutions to be granted the same level of coverage in the local media. When somewhere hot freezes over (not Arizona...)

Apr 29, 2014 06:36 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

There just aren't enough panels of white guys convened, are there? That panel had at least three faith leaders, including Alex Gee whose politics I'd like to hear you define. Please, attempt to do that for me. Or what about Michael Johnson, who runs maybe the most successful nonprofit in town (Boys & Girls Club) by building coalitions of small business people and community leaders? What are his politics? Are you aware he was driven out into the woods by his college friends where he was greeted by a group of men in KKK garb burning a cross? Is that what you mean by his "background"? What's interesting is how many actual business leaders were there. I saw Tim Metcalfe talking about it. He only puts on one of the biggest community fundraisers in the state at Brat Fest each year. Wildly successful businessman. If you read this magazine, you'd know he's a guy we could all learn from. Everybody except you, I guess. You know it all, right?

Apr 30, 2014 07:37 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

"John Scalzi... trying to get guys, in particular, to understand the concept without getting defensive: "In the role playing game known as The Real World, 'Straight White Male' is the lowest difficulty setting there is."

"Without getting defensive." Well, that didn't work.

Apr 30, 2014 08:30 am
 Posted by  coolkevs

Oh, I see the Bratfest is OK now -- let those white-guy Walker supporting bygones be bygones when they sing from the approved choir book

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About This Blog

Raised on a farm near Sun Prairie, David Blaska is a recovering liberal who spent 18 years in daily newspapers, including 12 at The Capital Times in Madison as a reporter and editor. He served Gov. Tommy Thompson as acting press secretary in 1998 and is a veteran and survivor of 19 years in state government. He served 12 years on the Dane County Board of Supervisors. From December 2007 to November 2011 he wrote the consistently popular "Blaska's Blog" for Isthmus online's "The Daily Page" until, he says, the intolerant liberals ran him off. He blogs from Madison.

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