Hypocrites: An Indictment of the University’s White Progressives


Tom Ciccotta, Contributing Writer

In 1974, American ecologist Garrett Hardin created an ethical “lifeboat” dilemma: a lifeboat at sea has 50 passengers, room for 10 more, and an ocean of hundreds of swimmers who need to be brought on board. Hardin presents many possible answers to the ethical questions that arise, none of which are more striking than his response to those passengers on board who feel guilty for their good fortune:

“Get out and yield your place to others.”

Too often I’ve been lectured about privilege by those who seem themselves to be direct recipients of it. Those that advocate that we need a better understanding of white privilege are often white. Those that advocate for higher taxes on this campus have almost exclusively been the beneficiaries of comfortable households that refuse to pay a cent more than what is owed on their annual income taxes. Why should the fortunate man who proposes a higher tax for the purpose of redistribution not pay that tax until he has forced everyone else to participate? Lead by example, and get off the lifeboat.

Fortunately, the University isn’t a lifeboat. You do not have to be at the University to survive, but rather to thrive. To the University students who are supporters of affirmative action, why did you not step aside and ask the University to offer your admission to an underprivileged minority? Your Bernie Sanders T-shirt and support for affirmative action doesn’t mean much to me when you aren’t willing to act out on such beliefs.

This same line of logic applies to white faculty members. If you support preferential treatment in the hiring process, why are you here? Why does your mere support of this affirmative action system serve as your contribution? Lead by example, and go teach at a state school and allow an underprivileged minority to have your seat.

The problem is that progressives are too busy discussing how they will appropriate the fruits of my good fortunes to ever consider sacrificing any of their own. 

I’m comfortable with my place on the lifeboat. Perhaps before you think to lecture the rest of us about our place on board, you can use your own spot to contribute more to those that are drowning.

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