Smart People Need to Check Their “Cognitive Privilege”
There’s a new kind of “privilege” in town, and if you suffer from it, you can’t help it any more than you can help your skin color or your gender. (Although, of late, gender seems to be completely open to debate and have nothing to do with biology.) If you are an smart person, you have “cognitive privilege” according to an op-ed in the Daily Iowan.
Well, that’s just really not fair, is it?
With all the “privileges” out there that need to be kept in check, may God help you if you are white, male, attractive, and smart. You are public enemy #1 to the social justice set, you privileged scumbag.
I’ll let the author, Dan Williams, explain cognitive privilege because I couldn’t possibly do it justice in a summary:
We now know that intelligence is not something we have significant control over but is something we are born with. We are living in a society in which success is increasingly linked to one’s intelligence. This is not to say that intelligence is the only factor that is important. All that is implied is that below a certain threshold of intelligence, there are fewer and fewer opportunities. These opportunities are being shifted upward to jobs that require heavier cognitive lifting or else are being replaced by robots. Thus, the accident of having been born smart enough to be able to be successful is a great benefit that you did absolutely nothing to earn. Consequently, you have nothing to be proud of for being smart. (source)
So, in other words, if you’re not that smart, your job may be taken by a robot, and that isn’t your fault. I assume that this will eventually lead to the assumption that if you cognitively “disabled,” the world probably owes you something. Because we’re all about “fairness” in the United States, right? RIGHT?
Furthermore, if you are smart, in the wise (cough) words of former President Obama, “You didn’t build that.” You just hit the genetic lottery and should be humbled (and perhaps a little embarrassed) as opposed to proud.
Will this be the next thing that kiboshes people who deserve it from getting a job? “We wanted to hire her, but she is smart. We have already exceeded our quota of cognitively privileged individuals, so we’ll have to go hire that dumb guy or we’ll be breaking labor laws.”
Sometimes there is so much ridiculous stuff out there that you all must just think, “She has to be making this up.” Oh, that I was so creative. Nope, this is the society in which we dwell, with one ridiculous outrage on top of another.
Disregard the fact that you could do something about your lack of cognitive privilege.
Of course, none of this takes into account the possibilities we all have to improve our lots in life. Between libraries and the internet, opportunities abound to learn more about basically any topic you want. Perhaps you won’t end up being a neurosurgeon, but what is stopping you from being an expert on some other topic that perhaps takes a brain with common sense as opposed to book sense?
If we all devoted our time to improving ourselves, instead of watching reality television and walking around with our faces and thumbs firmly engaged with our cell phones, perhaps the “cognitive privilege” of those who do focus on learning would not provide so great a disparity amongst our opportunities.
So much of this is a choice about how we spend the hours in our days. It’s about our drive and the habits we intentionally develop.
Williams doesn’t want you to feel too guilty if you are intelligent. Just the right amount of guilt will do:
The purpose of pointing out someone’s privilege is to remind them of the infinite number of experiences that are possible and the very large number of experiences that are actual [sic] that they know very little about. The purpose is to enlarge their moral consciousness, to make them more sympathetic to people who are less fortunate than they are.
Feelings of guilt are natural when coming to consciousness of one’s place in the scheme of things — and noticing that one has been conferred benefits through sheer accident — but guilt is an impediment to social-justice action, not a motivator (guilt slides easily into resentment).(source)
Okay, isn’t that possibly the worst kind of condescension that ever existed? You know how feminists always talk about men with whom they work “mansplaining” something to them and how it infuriates them? Wouldn’t “smartsplaining” and moral sympathy be every bit as infuriating to one without “cognitive privilege?”
I don’t know about you, but if I had a “disability” the last thing in the world I would want is sympathy. Particularly if my disability was that I was stupid, I wouldn’t want the intellectual elite fawning over me superciliously.
Privilege is just the other side of the “ism” coin.
A while back, I wrote an article called The Great American Butthurt and it was all about how much I loathe any word ending in “ism.”
Words to express our affront are being made up left and right by the mere addition of “ism” to the ends of what were formerly perfectly neutral words. It seems like pundits can take basically any word and add “ism” to the end of it and that means they’re being slighted. The list of isms could go on and on, but instead of promoting more equality, all they’re doing is promoting more division. Isn’t that divisionism?
Personally, I’m affronted by the constant barrage of affronts. When did we, as a nation, become such weenies? How is it that such a collection of whiners has become the vocal majority? Certain people are constantly offended and demand the attention of others so they can express the epic level of their personal offendedness.
So vast is the recent level of Great American Butthurt that no mainstream news outlet is complete without breathlessly exposing a secret “ism” each day. These secret “isms” are called “microaggressions,” defined as “the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.”
Oh my gosh. SHUT UP ALREADY. (source)
How can our country ever again expect to be united when we are constantly divided by a never-ending series of isms and privileges? What if we just stop labeling everyone and everything and just be human beings with choices and personal responsibility for those choices?
I’m not denying that racism and sexism exist – of course, they do – but why would people spend so much time focusing on some perceived negative instead of focusing on the positive aspects of self-improvement? I’m also not denying that being an intelligent person makes it easier to succeed, but there are plenty of very bright people who can’t make a go of it.
When everything is an ism or a privilege, doesn’t that take away from the true, serious issues that exist? If everyone is so busy competing for victimhood, don’t the actual victims get drowned out in the roar? And if everyone is angry at everyone else for accusations about isms and privileges, it’s a pretty good bet folks will never be able to get along.
Success isn’t about your privileges or your lack of isms. It’s about your drive. It’s about the choices that you make.
We can get out there and make opportunities happen or we can complain about it. Guess which decision will make you more successful?