Privilege of ‘not seeing’ the harm


Two seeming unrelated stories point to the privilege of those “well off” being protected from seeing the harm that comes from their financial structure and even sometimes directly from their financial decisions. The more remote the harm is from decision making, then the easier it is to make the decision that causes that harm. It is just like dropping bombs.

The first example of the privilege of not seeing harm is very blatant. People who are getting laid off, denied health care and evicted from homes do not get a break for Christmas or because their “home” is involved. Yet here is a person claiming that privilege for the very rich. The protesters were using public space, the lake, to make a health care decision maker, Stephen Hemsley, aware of the harm he causes:

Here is the second example of the privilege of not seeing harm.

Today, a Southwest Journal article again brings into stark contrast that the divergent policing styles of Minneapolis and St Paul. The Southwest Journal article is using the militaristic policing style language of “cracking down,” evoking the image of law enforcement officer beating up a person during the arrest. So what hard criminals and hard crimes deserve such special attention and hard language?

Most of the offenses were livability crimes: urination in public, drinking in public, trespassing and possession of drug paraphernalia. Heroin use was a particularly common problem.

(Southwest Journal “Cracking down on Uptown’s chronic offenders” by Jake Weyer)

The author calls this livability issues, when actually the description would be better be described as “get the homeless out of my sight.” When there are budget problems in Minneapolis, police are being specially targeted at people who urinate on the streets. It is ironic that Minneapolis police are among the recently laid off. The privilege of not seeing harm caused to people is maintained by using the police in this case.