Victim Chic is All the Rage
There is no escaping the culture of victimhood in America today. Many people, politicians in particular, perpetuate a running narrative -- whether true or not -- in which they are cast as a mighty hero fighting in a just battle against an oppressed underclass. Others are content to be in the martyr role and go to great lengths to show the world their uphill struggle. There are great rewards for this type of “victim chic”: attention, adoration, sympathy, and in many cases victories at the ballot box and in national and state legislatures. The left has this tactic down to a science and has used it like a bludgeon on unsuspecting opponents time after time. They know that a moving story about an aggrieved underdog is much more effective than pie charts depicting a ballooning debt or Medicare Trustees’ reports on future program bankruptcies. The problem is, in many cases, the left has either contrived stories out of whole cloth or has invented entire new classes of victims so that they can elicit our sympathy and, more importantly, our vote. They do it because it is much more effective to play the victim card, even when it’s not true, than to debate an issue on its merits. They do it because it is chic.
Nancy Pelosi recently told reporters at a press conference perhaps the biggest lie of her career. She said that the reason Republicans oppose amnesty is because it will not benefit white people. She said she heard Republicans tell the Irish that if amnesty were “just for them,” the right would pass it. When pressed about the issue later, a Pelosi staff member was forced to admit that the Democratic leader hadn’t actually heard a Republican say that after all. Knowing that her cause is weak and has many detractors, Pelosi chose not to argue the issue fairly, but instead smeared anyone against it as a racist. With that one falsehood, she cast herself in the role of a great civil rights defender and hero. She still has not personally corrected the record and her accusation stands.
Young people, too, have caught on to this trend. College campuses are replete with examples of those on the left faking hate crimes against students. In one case last year at Vassar College, a transgendered student and member of the college’s Bias Incident Response Team evidently thought business was a little slow, so he started faking hate crimes by painting racist and anti-GLBT messages on student residences. And in a recent case in Hercules, California, a transgendered 15-year- old high school student told police he was beaten and sexually assaulted by a group of boys in the school bathroom. The story of this horrible atrocity was all over the news until police found out the young person lied about whole ordeal. There was no beating, no assault. Just one, young, very confused person who desperately wants to be a victim.
A Columbia University psychology professor has popularized a form of hidden racism he calls “microagressions.” He’s teaching minority students that they might be discriminated against in the subtlest of ways. We know we’ve crossed into new territory in the civil rights era when offenses are so slight that no one, including the oppressed or the oppressor, is aware of them.
Young people aren’t the only ones who want to be part of this ever-growing not-so-exclusive club. Take Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, who is on a crusade to ban the word “bossy.” Sandberg claims that little girls are often slandered with this term, which hurts their chances at leadership positions when they grow up. So now she’s turned herself into the savior riding in on the white horse to save all women from such discrimination and abuse. Never mind that every Fortune 500 company in America is chomping at the bit to hire and promote female executives, often at the expense of equally or more qualified men. Never mind that more women earn Bachelor’s degrees than men. Never mind that we’re lowering military standards so that women can fight in combat roles. And never mind that women, for the past three decades, make up a larger voting bloc than men. We’re still victims.
The victim chic trend serves as a tactic to get sweeping laws passed too. That’s what happened with the case of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was brutally murdered in 1998. The press reported that Matthew was killed because he was gay, and a national hate crime bill was passed in his name. But new details reveal that his sexual orientation had nothing to do with his murder. Matthew was involved in Laramie’s drug scene and was most likely killed by a bisexual meth addict with whom he was already acquainted. A journalist looking into the matter claims that Matthew and one of his killers had possibly been one-time lovers. Many of us don’t place so much importance on why Matthew had been killed, whether it was a lover or a hate crime, we just want the harshest penalty available for his murderer. But the grievance community had to make it into something it was not. Why?
More than scoring political points, there’s a destructive underlying message, intended or not, to the victim chic trend. We are teaching new generations that America is racist, sexist, and homophobic. We’ve taught our young people to see discrimination everywhere, and to be hypersensitive to it. Ask any college student about America’s history and he or she can rattle off a litany of crimes and sins, but has little knowledge of our greatness when compared to other countries. Such nihilism is not only destructive, but it is a confusing oxymoron in one of the freest, most diverse and tolerant countries in the world.
In a nation of over 300 million people, there is no doubt injustice, and we have powerful, effective laws that deal with anyone who would beat a transgendered student, kill a gay Wyoming man, deface private or public property, or otherwise harm or wrong a citizen. But teaching little girls, women, minorities, and gays, and all those who love them, to believe they’re constantly being discriminated against only holds them back. It’s good for short-term political points, and great for the politicians who peddle the narrative, but it simply does not help anyone in the long run to go through life feeling wronged.
Everyone has a cross to bear, but the story of America is one of overcoming our burdens. For those who continue to paint this country in the worst possible light, especially when they have to invent stories to do so, perhaps they should travel the world and see what life is like for an LBGT individual in most other countries.If they truly want to help women, maybe they should focus instead on the Middle and Far East, or even in some southern and eastern European countries. For those who pine for a civil rights struggle in which there truly is a great evil to combat, perhaps they can focus on the fact that there are more slaves alive today than at any other time in history, mainly in Africa and Asia. And while the bar for America must always be higher than that of the rest of the world, we are a still a shining city on a hill.
It is time to stop the divisive and pathological grooming of our fellow citizens to be victims. We are a country of overcomers. The road ahead, especially in America, shines like gold for those who are willing to see it. Will we take that road, or will we continue down the path of victimhood?