Why do newspapers even bother having op-ed columnists. If this is the best they can do, who needs 'em?
- Whose privilege?
I am the child of privilege -- or so I am being told. I am white, I am male. Put them together and you would think I've been sitting on a trust fund -- unearned, unappreciated and unjustified. There are people who think that being male has historically been an unalloyed privilege. The many dead of our national cemeteries suggest otherwise.
Oh my God! Did you know that if you are a white man, even the whitest of white men, you can still die? I has no idea! And here I was thinking how lucky I was to have been born white and male. What a fool I was!
Also, yes. That is exactly what the concept of white privilege and male privilege is. It's an assumption that every white male is a spoiled ingrate trust-fund kid, and if any white men are not born with a silver spoon in their mouths the entire concept is proven to be invalid. Well played, Cohen!
Let me concede right at the top that it was always better to be white in America than black. Let me further stipulate that in the workplace, it has usually been better to be a man than a woman. Let me further stipulate -- or possibly assert-that the situation is finally, belatedly improving. Hallelujah.
Okay, usually? In what instance was it ever preferable to be a woman in any workplace? And also, are we seriously going to pretend that the only facet of life in which men are granted an unfair advantage is in the workplace? The fact that I can walk through a dark alley at night knowing that the worst case scenario is I am relieved of my wallet says to me that I have it better than any woman in everyday life. The fact that I can travel to any country in the world and not have to worry that I might be arrested for having my hair or skin exposed speaks volumes about the ways in which men have it better than women in multiple facets of life. And the fact that I will never have to worry that a bunch of religious fanatics may decide that they know better than I what kind of medical procedures I might need. . . well, you get the idea.
My first real job was with the New York office of a national insurance company. Sexual harassment was a problem, for sure. But the term did not yet exist and the problem was not formally recognized.
We had no acknowledged diversity problem, either. In fact, we simply had no diversity. African-Americans, Hispanics -- you name it: None. Our office was exclusively white and not by accident. When I asked my boss why we had no black employees, he told me directly that it was his policy not to hire any. And when once, by accident, a temp agency sent over an Asian file clerk, she made the mistake of using the common ladies room. Women from the office next door demanded she be fired. She was.
I'm not really sure what point you think you're making here. Are you saying that because newsrooms can no longer overtly refuse to hire black people or fire Asian ladies for Asianing up the restroom, that privilege is a thing of the past?
When my mother died, I wrote that had she been born in a later era, she could have been president of the United States. Her competence was awesome and her drive was remarkable, but she was kept in her place by discrimination and tradition. Now her place has been taken by my sister. If Donald Trump is limited to one term, it will be because my sister has organized most of New England to oppose him. When it comes to warnings, Paul Revere has nothing on her.
So I didn't know who Richard Cohen's sister is. I decided to Google her to see if she was someone famous. This is what I got:
So when Cheeto Mussolini fails to win re-election, it will not be due to his stunning incompetence, his remarkable level of corruption or his astonishing lack of mental acuity, it will be because of Richard Cohen's sister who is either Peewee Herman, a burly bearded black man, or Eric Clapton. Hell of a family tree!
Although I'm not sure how much credit we should give the woman who is organizing the #Resistance in New England which went almost entirely for Hillary Clinton in 2016.
So why bring up your mom and sister anyway?
All this is by way of saying to women: I'm on your side. But when I see op-eds, such as the one recently in The New York Times that states in the headline that the Metropolitan Museum of Art should not have appointed "yet another white, male director," I recoil. That's just another way of saying that white and male is a disqualification.
Oh my God, no it isn't!
Saying "hey, you know what, every director you've ever had has been a white male, maybe give someone else a shot at it" is not the same thing as saying "you should not hire any white males. White males are bad." You have to know this. You can't possibly be dumb enough to not know this.
Diversity in the workplace is an overdue goal, but it can amount to a quota by another name. Choose a woman because she's a woman and you've eliminated a man because he's a man.
Oh Heaven forbid!
Heaven forbid a man should possibly not get a job!
You know, just a paragraph ago, you were saying:
When I went into journalism, it was mostly a guy's thing. It was rare for a woman to be a foreign correspondent, rarer still for one to cover a war. My career surely benefited from that. There are women around today that I am glad I didn't have to compete against when I was starting out.
So you acknowledge that you happily took advantage of the bias against women to advance your career, but God forbid that a woman might get a similar break (although in the real world, there are no quotas and women are still less likely to be offered prestigious jobs.) It's fine for you to do it, but if a hypothetical woman were to hypothetically do the same thing, well that would just be grossly unfair!
It's not that anyone is fooled by obfuscation. Some of the resentment in the white, male electorate is based on the conviction that the deck is suddenly stacked against them. That's Trump's constituency, right there. (He got about 63 percent of the white male vote.) Someone has to tell those guys how deceived they are, how they have benefited all these years from being male and white. Forgive them, if they do not understand.
I'm sorry. Do you think this column is helping? Do you think your pitiful whining about white men being disqualified on the basis of white man-ness is helping to disabuse them of this false notion? Do you think that complaining " Choose a woman because she's a woman and you've eliminated a man because he's a man.
Once I was passed over for a newsroom position I very much wanted. "We needed a woman," an editor told me. I said nothing, although I seethed.
Seriously? You didn't see the irony in that? You didn't see the karma? You got to where you were by being favored over women, then once ONCE! a woman gets favored over you and you seethe? (That's if I believe you. I can't imagine an editor would open himself up to a lawsuit by being that candid about hiring/promotion practices.)
I said nothing, although I seethed. In short order, I was made a columnist, so I didn't even get a chance to cry. But the instant rush of utter unfairness lingers. The woman chosen was qualified, but her qualification had nothing to do with her sex. I was told she was just a needed statistic.
Waaaah!!! It's so uinfair! That mean qualified lady got the promotion and all I got was this lousy job being an extremely well-paid columnist for America's most prestigious newspaper which has made me rich and famous and makes people take my dumb opinions seriously! Waaaahhhh!!
The way women have been treated in the workplace is wrong -- everything from pay disparity to sexual harassment to outright discrimination. But the past does not obliterate the solemn obligation to treat people as individuals, not primarily as members of a sex or race. Fairness demands it. Democracy requires it
Okay, so. . . first of all, you're saying that pay disparity, sexual harassment and discrimination are in the past? Try saying that to any working woman with a straight face. I dare you!
And also you're saying that in that benighted past when workplaces used to be hostile/unfair/unwelcoming to women (whew! Glad that's over!) we weren't a democracy?
Or are you just saying that you know, it was not really cool for women to be discriminated against, but let's forget about that, it's ancient history. Now that whiny little douchebags like Richard Cohen think that they might somehow be the ones getting the short end of the stick, that NOW all forms of discrimination must be eliminated post haste!
Congratulations, Richard Cohen, You are the douche of the day!