I had a conversation the other day with a friend about how the left and right view societal problems, and to make a long story short, she suggested that the left see these problems as systemic (racism, economic disenfranchisement, etc.) whereas the right see them as reflections of individuals—that, for example, those who aren’t successful are responsible for their plight. Which brings me to this:
It’s a slight variation of the ‘pull up your bootstraps’ mantra that conservatives love to tell everyone less fortunate than them, but the message is the same: hard work overcomes all boundaries. And what was the question that prompted this response?
Simple question. He’s asking about women not born into privilege (a word the right despises), i.e. women whose fathers weren’t college professors at state universities and had a conference named after them and held annually in their honor, women who didn’t live in a place that permitted them to go to one of the best public high schools in the nation, that sort of thing. I wouldn’t have said ‘average’ women myself, but it’s clear what he’s getting at: some women (and just people in general) are born into very different circumstances and have different challenges along the way. Is it reasonable to then expect everyone to make it? Let’s see some of the reasonable responses from Kelly’s fans:
See? Completely reasonable!
No one is saying that Megyn Kelly doesn’t deserve what she has—it’s that she have empathy for people who haven’t overcome institutional obstacles or adversity as well as she did. She’s lucky, for instance, that she was able to carry on and be as successful as she is considering the age at which she lost her father. Not everyone can do that. A kid who grew up on my street lost his dad when he was young, and it tore him and his family apart. He was a nice kid. Studious. But last I heard he hadn’t done much with himself. And what about the guys going on about it being ‘up to the individual’ or that Americans have ‘equal rights’? Those are nice things, and I wish it were both that easy and completely true for everyone. But really, they should ask themselves a few things…
Do people like this really have no idea that life doesn’t pan out for everyone? Do they really not have anyone they love—a family member or friend—who they know is a good and decent person live a life that never amounted to much, and that there are forces beyond their own self-will that determine how certain aspects of their life will turn out? Do they not know anyone who got addicted to alcohol or drugs, or lost a job and had a hard time finding another, or got sick and couldn’t afford the treatment, or weren’t all that good at school, and wound up not being what we’d call ‘successful’? Have they never witnessed, even cursorily, the way racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of bigotry affect people? Have they never wondered why there are people without money who can never seem to get any without just thinking them lazy?
Yes, plenty of people face these challenges and overcome them—it’s a virtue of the human spirit. But if anyone’s ever admired a rags-to-riches tale, hasn’t it ever bugged them how exceedingly rare they are? When they get inspired about how a poor kid from the projects managed to start a multi-billion dollar business, do they just assume everyone from the same walk of life that didn’t do the same is a worthless piece of garbage? A slacker sucking on the government teat? Is it so hard to imagine that some, no, a lot of hard-working people struggle unnecessarily in the richest country in the history of the world for reasons that aren’t of their own making, and that they shouldn’t be punished for that? Are they unaware that life is different now that it was ten, twenty, thirty, fifty years ago? That having done something successfully in 1970 doesn’t necessarily mean the same feat can be accomplished again today?
It’s asinine to think that everyone would make it if they all dedicated their lives to work. It’s asinine because people all over the country do that and quite a few have a difficult time scraping by, if they can even do that. It’s asinine because it assumes that people who depend on welfare never want to have anything more, want nothing better for their children. I know these people, and those who share their views, know someone who has struggled and didn’t come out on top, and that they didn’t place all the blame on them. So why would they do that with everyone else? But I’m being unfair. They probably don’t.