In the Christian religion, it is understood that all human beings, whatever their colour, class or ethnicity, are born with “original sin,” a reference to Adam and Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Redemption, however, is possible through faith. All who come to Christ in sincerity are received with divine love that surpasses (and bypasses) authority that is human, and therefore corruptible.
By contrast, in the atheistic religion known as progressivism, one class alone of human beings is born with original sin. For progressives, whiteness (exacerbated by ancillary features such as Christianity, maleness and heterosexuality) is the cause of all worldly evils, but especially racism, which this religion particularly abominates. Alas, there is no conversion, redemption or salvation possible for white sinners in this belief system.
The self-anointed high priests of progressivism – Marxist intellectuals – delight in excommunicating insufficiently ardent believers and dissenters, accusing them of “violence” against their version of the “meek” (First Nations, people of colour, LGBT, anti-Zionists) who they intend to inherit the earth, all of whom are inherently oppressed by whiteness. But their principal focus lies in catechizing educators in the dogmas and the rituals of progressivism, so that from earliest childhood, every white public school student internalizes his or her original sin of “privilege.” The children learn that while there is no actual salvation for them, they can earn indulgences through continuous self-abasement and acceptance of wholesale denunciation from progressivism-endorsed victim groups.
Two Canadian examples illustrate the punitive lengths to which educators will go to instil this message. The University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) recently mounted posters encouraging students to “check their privilege” with a list incorporating the sins mentioned above. And B.C.’s School District 74 mounted posters that portrayed school administration officials confessing their privilege and contributions to racism. In one, Teresa Downs, Superintendent of Schools, stares morosely at the viewer beside the words: “I have benefited from the colour of my skin. White privilege is not acceptable.” Alternately, district principal of Aboriginal education Tammy Mountain, an aboriginal woman, states in her poster, “I have felt racism. Have you?”
Both initiatives were greeted with a wave of protest. In the UOIT case, the blowback was intense; the messaging was referred to as “hate speech” by some critics, and the posters came down. In B.C., one parent, Kansas Field Allen, objected to the project for its negative effect on blended families (Allen’s husband and children are aboriginal), reporting she had been told she should feel uncomfortable within her own family.
It is encouraging that parents are not taking this nonsense lying down. Parents as a collective have a great deal of power. If ever there was a cause worth organizing around, this is it. John MacMillan, UOIT’s Communications director, claimed the posters were part of ongoing efforts at universities across Canada to improve “equity, diversity and inclusion” on campus. But those benign-sounding words are ideologically charged, and always a warning that individual rights are about to be sacrificed on the altar of identity politics.
As Jordan Peterson noted in a tweet regarding the poster controversy, “Parents: these words (particularly together) mean indoctrination: ‘diversity, inclusivity, white privilege, gender” and, above all, and absolutely unforgivably ’equity.’ Never, ever let teachers talk to your kids about equity.” (He means this literally, suggesting that parents encourage their kids to actually walk out on teachers who preach anti-white social justice bromides instead of teaching objective knowledge, their wonted métier.)
Teaching children that they are inherently bad because of some immutable quality in their genetic makeup is pedagogical abuse. How does a child’s shame over something he or she cannot control help end racism? It doesn’t. On the contrary, it serves only to encourage fear and paralysis amongst the shamed and to endorse both resentment and self-pity amongst the “racialized.” In its essential fatalism – since unlike Christianity, this progressive dogma offers no avenue for atonement or reconciliation – it widens the divide between racial groups by depriving both parties of moral agency and by discouraging the organic social interchange that occurs spontaneously when school peers are assumed to be individuals, rather than tribal symbols.
The progressive belief system regarding race relations is mired in hopelessness. The people who suffer the most in this belief system are those the white-privilege movement believes it is helping. Victimhood is what these groups, especially blacks and aboriginals, come to identify with as the essence of their being. They are led to believe that all their problems – all – are the products of racialization by white people. The corollary to such thinking is passivity and acceptance of poor social outcomes as beyond their power to change from within. Such a collective attitude is the kiss of death to responsible maturation, both individually and culturally. The only winners in this religion are those progressive white elites who, in confessing their privilege, are privileged to feel virtuous without making any personal sacrifices whatsoever.