This is a little muddled, but I had some ideas I wanted to get out there.
People hide behind the shield of ancestral abuse and fish for privilege.
Ancestral and current differences in privilege ∞
Some see difference between themselves and others and blame those differences on the differences between their ancestors and the ancestors of those others.
They remark that their ancestors were disadvantaged in ratio to the ancestors of those they compare themselves to. They argue that all the way up the generations, enough diffused measure of that disadvantage still remains such that it needs to be balanced even today.
They argue the scales can and must be balanced by their being granted extra privilege, even over top of those others and even if they already have more privilege.
Unbalanced privilege ∞
The first thing to examine is if there can even be the concept of unbalanced privilege. This is easily confirmed with "slavery existed". Yes, unbalanced privilege can be a thing.
It can more broadly be stated that in examining a "class" of some sort, "under-privilege" would have to have existed for the majority of them at some point in the ancestry of the current claimant's class. "Over-privilege" would also have to exist in the ancestry of the current comparison-class.
Class? Hello, Marxism!
Fabricating a class ∞
A class can be entirely fabricated, to use this whole concept of the scales of privilege as a way for a group or an individual therein to gain unearned privilege. Calling people with brown eyes a class is silly. Calling Irish people a class when examining American slavery is spot-on.
A group or an individual can mislead their membership in a class. Putting on a fake tan, hair perming and teaching black history does not ever make one black.
An individual's chain of ancestry also matters. A claimant who is the very first member of their family to come to the United States cannot so strongly claim they are underprivileged as compared to someone with a lineage that stretches all the way back to slavery. Some sort of "residual under-privileging", akin to racism, would have to exist. But that would be only a peripherally-related argument. An argument separate enough to dismiss from this one.
Past class and historical privilege ∞
Even if a class currently exists, that does not mean it existed in the past. There is no comparison between the ancestors of first nations (indian/native) to immigrants from Australia. One cannot say "because first nations were oppressed, therefore we must give privilege to Australians".
Even if that class did exist in the past, that does not mean there was an equal spread of privilege such that a comparison can be made to the spread of privilege of some other class. Comparing a low-privilege person of some current class to a high-privilege person of some comparison's ancestral class is unfair.
Privilege comparisons ∞
Comparisons need to be careful, and not make simple assumptions. For example, comparing the historical right to vote between males and females makes no sense since most males also had no right to vote. Actual historical accuracy is important.
Current comparisons also need to be careful. In the United States, females have the right to vote, and males still do not have the right to vote. They don't, because upon first-exercising their "right" to vote, males must forever submit themselves to the draft. Females don't.
Even after identifying classes and understanding history, how does one measure the shifts in the balance of privilege? One can understand privilege in terms of opportunity, and opportunity in terms of the law. Slavery is outlawed, marriages aren't forced, adulthood and consent are well-defined.
The resources of the accident of birth, and opportunity ∞
There are two things to keep in mind when comparing classes. The resources granted from the accent of birth, and the opportunity afforded at adulthood.
It is reasonable to say that, by accident of birth, those who are raised in a ghetto are at a resource-disadvantage compared to another raised elsewhere. If it can then be demonstrated as fact that that ghetto is the result of generations of still-unbalanced privilege, then there is an argument to be made.
Opportunity under the law ∞
Opportunity is extraordinarily easy to compare. Examine the law, the mechanisms for its enforcement and its track record of enforcement.
Examining a legal track record is sheds light on the existence of bigotry. More often than not, sensitive issues of unbalanced privilege are revealed either from special laws favouring a class, or by selective enforcement and conviction.
The enforcement of a law makes it clear it isn't just there for show. Additionally, the impartial enforcement of a law makes it clear there is no imbalance of privilege surrounding that law.
Trust in the law gained by enforcement of the law ∞
For example, females aren't paid less than males for the same work, because the law says so and because it's very carefully regulated and harshly punished.
When a law has a track record of honesty and severity, anyone claiming they are a victim without bringing it to the law is presumably doing so because they're lying.
For example, rape is taken seriously. Very seriously. Rape has laws and procedures. Rape has experts. Arrests, trials and (when guilty) punishments are taken seriously. Because of the well-earned trust in these laws, anyone who claims to be raped without going to the law is clearly a liar.
Balancing privilege ∞
Opportunity is the primary, and arguably only sensible, measure by which privilege can be balanced. Balancing the scales of opportunity so that a current generation of class has the same opportunity as another is the best thing to do.
Trying to make reparations by somehow defining a current class, building a history stretching back to some cherry-picked point in the past, demonstrating an intact version of that class remains unequally-privileged all the way up to today is ridiculous compared to granting and enforcing equal opportunities.
The concept of reparations of the entirely-innocent current generation for past deeds of their ancestors to a different class of current generation is ridiculous. Why would people included in some class due to an accident of birth, have to pay out to other people in some other class due to an accident of birth? Why, especially when opportunity is equal and enforced?