Friday, February 18, 2011

Philosophy of Privilege

In the 1990s, when I was embroiled in the property rights political turmoil that catalyzed the modern militia movement, the cast of characters engaged in vigilantism and the grievances they promoted were pretty much the same as they are today. Their rebellion -- fueled by racism, religious fundamentalism, and beliefs about international conspiracies -- culminated in murders, shootouts with police, bombings, and arrests.

Today, that movement still feeds off the hostilities surrounding abortion, immigration, the United Nations, and the Federal Reserve system. Politicians still pander to their bigotry, and activists still harass targets of their prejudice.

Reading accounts of the history of American Conservatism, what is clear is that the philosophy of privilege that undergirds their violent prejudice is a mainstream attribute of American culture. While individuals pick and choose the particulars that make up their personal prejudice packs, they are by and large against human rights, which makes them sympathetic with the historical position of the United States Government until very recently.

With the advent of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, relationships between indigenous peoples and metropolitan populations is undergoing a makeover that will redefine property rights, borders and governance worldwide. It is also addressing such things as privilege and religious colonialism.

As we struggle to adapt to the consequences of climate change and economic globalization, we must be mindful of the political undercurrents that, left unchallenged, have the power to undermine our achievements as well as derail our ongoing efforts. In many ways, we have yet to recover from the last murderous rampage.


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