Friday, July 15, 2016

The "Malignant Hazard of Privilege"

On the recommendation of my friend Lee Strasburger I'm reading MEMOIRS OF AN ANTI-SEMITE by Gregor Von Rezzori

I haven't even reached Von Rezzori's writing yet, because I've been thinking so much about one of the last paragraphs in Deborah Eisenberg's introduction:

"How many actually evil people does it take to accomplish a genocide and reduce much of a continent to ash? Only a handful, it seems, but that handful requires the passive assistance of many, many other people who glance out of the windows of their secure homes and see a cloudless sky. It's easy enough for most of us to distance ourselves from attitudes of virulent racism, but what about from carelessness, casual snobbery - either social or intellectual - inattentiveness? Rezzori reminds us painfully that the great and malignant hazard of privilege is obtuseness."
"Yes, we wonder, what does it take to be a "decent person"? Maybe the most significant component is luck - the good luck to be born into a place and moment that inflicts minimal cruelty and thus does not require from us the courage to discern and resist its tides."

As another politician, one who has a phD in history says things like this:

and politicians and "nice" people in my extremely privileged town behave like this and people fight over which lives matter in more in slogans (seriously Mike Huckabee? I thought this was the Onion, not the Hill) instead of confronting the real structural inequities that exist in our country, Eisenberg's words resonate.

Last December, I wrote an op-ed entitled: Now is the time for moral courage: Politicians can't be bystanders to hate speech. Sadly, moral courage appears to be in short supply. Is it due to the malignant hazard of privilege?

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