July 31, 2006
Seattle's Culture of Victimology and the Shooting of JewsBy Christopher Chantrill
How could it happen? In Seattle, of all places, a city of moderation and diversity? On Friday, July 28, a man barged into the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. It is alleged that, armed with two handguns, Naveed Afzal Haq, 30, killed one woman and wounded five others.
And so the War on Terror comes to liberal Seattle, at the very heart of the congressional district of "Baghdad" Jim McDermott. Although Seattle is the very enemy of "hate," Haq will not be prosecuted for a hate crime, according to
That's as it should be. The hate crime laws were designed with right—wing militias and gay—bashers in mind. They were never intended to be used against Muslim hatemongers and Jew—baiters.
Back when right—wingnuts were blowing up innocent civilians in federal office buildings, no less a person than the President of the United States hinted that right—wing talk radio was to blame.
So we are bound to ask: is there something in left—wing culture, something rotten in the State of Washington, that encourages Muslim 30—year—olds with a sense of grievance to make the killing of innocent Jewish American women thinkable?
Are people with a sense of grievance driven to outrages like the Friday's attack on innocent Jewish women working for a Seattle Jewish charity? Or do liberal cities like Seattle encourage angry people and teach them to intensify their sense of victimhood? Ever since about 1850 our western progressives have maintained, with a solid consistency, that there are many people who, because of the facts of their oppression, cannot be expected to contain their rage.
The outrages of the workers were to be expected, wrote the Fabian generation in dozens of books and pamphlets, when you consider how the capitalist system exploited them and failed to provide them with a decent wage that would raise them above the line of poverty.
After the workers, it was the blacks. You couldn't expect them to keep the peace in the inner city. The rage of three hundred years of slavery and its aftermath was too great to be contained. And as President Lyndon Baines Johnson said at Howard University in 1965:
After the blacks it was the women. They were the "victim of the species," wrote Simone de Beauvoir in "The Data of Biology," (Chapter One of The Second Sex) and must be liberated from millennia of patriarchal oppression and alterity.
Then it was gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and the questioning.
Now it is the Muslims of the Middle East. The Ottoman Empire collapses and the century of violent conflict between its subject peoples is all the fault of the West and the Jews. No wonder the Palestinians and the Iranians and the Shia of southern Lebanon are outraged. They stole "our treasure, our oil, and our resources," bellows Sheikh Nasrullah.
You would expect that an angry American Muslim would choose Seattle to perform his outrage. Progressive Seattle legitimizes and condones the outrages of the self—described oppressed peoples. It rewards them with reduced responsibility for their actions. It encourages them to experience themselves not as equal citizens but as violated victims.
When you encourage people to feel like victims you cannot be surprised that they act out as victims. Today, of course, progressive Seattle Jews and progressive Seattle Muslims are conducting unity gatherings.
"To be sure, the shooting was apparently an isolated incident," writes Janet I. Tu of the Seattle Times.
To be sure.
But when you have built a political philosophy that sacralizes victimhood and isolates oppression as the only evil, and when you excuse the outrages of street thugs and political murderers, you cannot be surprised that the world is suddenly full of violent victims of oppression.
For a generation young black males were told that they are oppressed and that nobody would be surprised if they lashed out in violent anger. So they did, and crime rates soared. Then little over a decade ago the citizens of New York City conducted a little social experiment. They reversed the living law of Gotham. No longer would aggressive young men be considered "depraved on account of [they're] deprived," in the immortal words of Stephen Sondheim. In future, aggressive young men would be arrested and harassed for minor crimes of public drinking, aggressive behavior, and "breaking windows."
Amazingly, crime rates went down.
Overwhelmingly, people do what they are told; they respond to the cues that the culture sends out, young people more than anyone.
Today progressive Seattle is conducting unity meetings to bring everyone together. The trouble is that tomorrow Seattle will return to its grand old progressive tradition: encouraging victims and condoning social pathology.