James Taranto: Harvard to be humble, self-abnegation as a form of status-seeking.


“The wonks in training at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government will soon be subjected to a new and touchy-feely line of inquiry: Checking Your Privilege 101,” reports Kat Stoeffel of New York magazine. “In response to growing demand from student activists, administrators committed Friday to adding a class in power and privilege to its orientation program for incoming first-year students.”

The ideological basis of the new course is familiar: “Privilege,” Stoeffel explains, is “a catchall term for the perks an individual enjoys in society because of his race, gender, or class.”

The idea is “enjoying something of a moment, thanks to social-justice bloggers and their critics.” One such critic is Princeton undergraduate Tal Fortgang, who last month wrote in a much-discussed op-ed for the Princeton Tory that telling someone to “check your privilege” is a fallacious argumentum ad hominem.