Sunday, September 28, 2014

Take Up The White Man's Privilege

Take up the White Man's privilege,
Send forth the best ye breed
Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild--
Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man's privilege, In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple, An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit, And work another's gain.

Take up the White Man's privilege, The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man's privilege, No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper, The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter, The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living, And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man's privilege And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better, The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought he us from bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?"

Take up the White Man's privilege, Ye dare not stoop to less--
Nor call too loud on Freedom To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper, By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man's privilege, Have done with childish days--
The lightly proferred laurel, The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood, through all the thankless years
— Rudyard Kipling (almost)

That puts the phrase in perspective. Shows what the phrase really entails. For those unfamiliar with Kipling, the original title was "Take Up The White Man's Burden," and I've substituted "privilege" for "burden" throughout. Otherwise, it's exactly as Kipling wrote it. Oddly, it really does seem to mean about the same thing. Certainly nothing to be happy about. Or want to do again in the future. Leads me to the old "mind your own business" pre-progressive foreign policy, what about you?


  1. Robert A. Heinlein tells the story of a hobo who died trying to help a man free his wife from a railroad switch. It was the husband's duty to try to free the woman at risk of his life, it was the hobo's privilege.

  2. Everyone I have showed this article to has immediately seized upon the relevance. Excellent job. Bravo!