If a Defense Department instructor dares to say the country is at war with Islam, he will swiftly find himself out of a job. On the other hand, stereotyping white people as racists or saying the American dream is a myth is rewarded with a diploma.
At issue is an online course called Power and Privilege offered by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, which Defense created to assist "its customers in optimizing their mission readiness and capabilities by promoting human dignity through equity education, diversity, cultural competency, research and consultation world-wide." The institute has more than 30,000 uniformed and civilian graduates who are "maintaining the DOD reputation as a place where all individuals have infinite dignity and worth."
Well, most individuals, anyway. Those who are not members of a protected minority group may find their dignity to be something less than infinite. Historian and documentary filmmaker David A. Stein took the Power and Privilege course and posted slides on the Republican Party Animals website. It definitely is a learning experience.
The purpose of Power and Privilege is to give students "an understanding of how the misuse of power and privilege can lead to discrimination." It seems like a worthy enough goal, but according to this course, it is only the members of the majority culture who misuse their power. Minorities lack any privileges.
A slide on socioeconomic privilege, "also known as classism or elitism," according to the institute, features a picture of a happy-looking white family of four outside a middle-class home. In another context, this photo might be used to illustrate a positive concept such as the American dream. According to the institute, the "ideology of the American dream" is simply a manufactured idea used to keep the underclass in its place. It is part of the "myth of meritocracy," which is the misguided "belief that people get out of the system what they put into it based on individual merit." Only suckers fall for that one, according to this taxpayer-funded outfit.
Another photo intended to illustrate unearned privilege shows a foursome of white men playing golf. There is no sign of noted golfers of color like Tiger Woods or Barack Obama, but the symbolism fits the crude class-war stereotype on which much of this course is based. A slide on racism shows cartoon scales of justice weighted down on one side by the word "whites" with "Chinese," "Indians" and "Negroes" on the other. It's not clear to whom that slide is supposed to speak; it seems offensive to everyone.
The course also addresses the pressing issues of "sexual orientation privilege" and "religious privilege." Religious privilege is not the ability of Muslim pressure groups to lobby the White House to fire military instructors who have offended their prickly sensibilities. Instead, the institute illustrates America's overt religious bias with a picture of a store bearing a sign that says "Closed on Christmas Day." Having that important day off is a "religious privilege."
As members of Congress look for programs to cut in the upcoming Defense Department budget sequestration, they should exercise their power and privilege to end this boondoggle.
The Washington Times
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