Privilege as a character reference
…in which Annie Muse, who’s been quietly enjoying the benefits of citizenship, attempts to show that besides blinding us, privilege also is allowed to impersonate good character.
Quite a lot has been said of late about Mitt Romney’s life as a high school bully, or prankster, or whatever.
It seems to me to be a simple case of how privilege blinds the privileged. Of course he doesn’t remember. If he truly had the life-changing change of heart after his time as a missionary (as he claimed later), he’d have repented and possibly even learned how to give a proper apology.
But as he said later in a Fox News Radio interview, “ha, ha… no harm intended….”
One point that I find particularly interesting in Mr. Romney’s initial response to his outing, is that by way of explaining himself, he trots out his privilege which he seems to claim as character reference.
What follows is a bit of a transcript I made from Fox News Radio’s interview (you can find a recording of the audio part way down the page at this Huffington Post piece):
Brian Kilmeade: …when you met Ann, it changed you.
Mitt Romney: There’s no question, Brian, that I became a very different person as I met Ann, and as I went on and served as a missionary at my church, there are elements in life that change you, and I’m a very different person than I was in high school, of course.
You know I’m glad that I learned as much as I did during those high school years, I wouldn’t have had the great opportunities in life if I didn’t have the blessing of a good education.
But I can tell you, I’m quite a different guy now, I’m married, have five sons, five daughters in law, and now eighteen grandchildren, so, ah, you know at some point in this campaign we’ll talk about things like the economy….
Okay, so he was blessed to get an education in a private boys’ prep school. He was allowed by the State of Michigan to marry the person he loves. But besides all that, he has reproduced.
Besides blinding us, privilege also is allowed to impersonate good character.
It’s an interesting commentary on our culture that it is so difficult for people to hear the language of privilege. This is probably why no one has attempted to parse Mr. Romney’s comments beyond pointing out his non-apology apology.
But then again, as a Comingouter, I may just be hypersensitive, embedded in a society that is still evolving in its understanding of the Golden Rule and the 14th Amendment.
Maybe I’m asking a lot. I’d just like it if more of us decided to live by the commandment, “Don’t be mean.”
- 10 May 2012. “Mitt Romney’s prep school classmates recall pranks, but also troubling incidents” by Jason Horowitz (Washington Post).
- 10 May 2012. “Romney Apologizes For Bullying In Prep School, Says He Didn’t Know Victim Was Gay” by Sam Stein ( Huffington Post).
- 11 May 2012. “Mean Boys” by Charles M. Blow (New York Times).
Photo credit: Mitt Romney at Caster Concepts, Jackson County, Michigan, 27 Feb 2012. Photo by Dave Lawrence (davelawrence8 on Flickr). Used in accordance with Creative Commons licensing.