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Princeton Freshman’s Column On ‘Privilege’ Goes Viral

Tal Fortgang (credit: Facebook)

Tal Fortgang (credit: Facebook)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An opinion piece featured in the conservative student newspaper at Princeton University has gone viral, stirring debate about race on college campuses and social media.

In the column, freshman Tal Fortgang writes that he has been told “check your privilege” by his “moral superiors” several times this year after offering his opinion on certain social and government issues because he is perceived as a privileged white male, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.

“There is a phrase that floats around college campuses, Princeton being no exception, that threatens to strike down opinions without regard for their merits, but rather solely on the basis of the person that voiced them,” Fortgang wrote. “‘Check your privilege,’ they tell me in a command that teeters between an imposition to actually explore how I got where I am, and a reminder that I ought to feel personally apologetic because white males seem to pull most of the strings in the world.”

“If I start talking about government spending needs to be trimmed, I’ll immediately get jumped on with, ‘check your privilege,'” Fortgang, who grew up in Westchester, told Rivera. “They don’t know my stories, they don’t know anything about me.”

Fortgang decided to dive into his family history to check “the origins of my privileged existence” and discovered his family is made up of Holocaust survivors and hardworking immigrants.

“Two generations before me my grandparents were running away from the Nazis,” Fortgang said. “You think I’m privileged?”

Fortgang writes the problem with calling someone privileged is “you don’t know what their struggles have been, what they may have gone through to be where they are.”

“Behind every success, large or small, there is a story, and it isn’t always told by sex or skin color. My appearance certainly doesn’t tell the whole story, and to assume that it does and that I should apologize for it is insulting. While I haven’t done everything for myself up to this point in my life, someone sacrificed themselves so that I can lead a better life. But that is a legacy I am proud of,” Fortgang wrote.

“I have checked my privilege. And I apologize for nothing,” the column concluded.

The piece, which has gone viral, has been applauded and criticized.

Fortgang is glad the column is stirring the pot about judging anybody by skin color, but said, “I kind of just want to go back to life as usual as a college student.”

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