Self-Sabotage and the Midterms
Today, Western societies can be characterized by the irrepressible pursuit of victimhood status. This quest pervades the West's politics. Whatever one thinks about the meaning and implications of America's recent midterm elections and however the dust settles, the profitability of victimhood status is fostered by self-hatred, the flight from reality, and the search for meaning as people answer the question "who Am I?" by falling prey to identity politics.
Consider this. During America's 2022 midterm election cycle, seven arson cases, including two church fires, shattered the calm of Jackson, Mississippi. Prompted by these events, Shuwaski Young, an African American and former Democrat candidate for Mississippi's 3rd Congressional District, invoked the specter of Klan violence. He said the church fires were cowardly actions reminiscent of "historical acts of terrorism" designed to suppress the black vote. Later the sheriff's office arrested Devin McLaurin, an African-American, in connection with the arson incidents. While the investigation continues, no evidence has surfaced showing that Mr. McLaurin is a member of the Klan. Instead, the evidence gives rise to the inference that Mr. McLaurin and Mr. Young have taken part in America's victimhood Olympics. This conclusion tracks with scholar Wilfred Reilly's investigation of more than 340 reported "hate crimes," which shows that fewer than a third are genuine, as well as the 2016 Mississippi hate-crime hoax broadcast by the Southern Poverty Law Center. More likely than not, Mr. McLaurin has participated in either self-victimization or hate-crime fraud rather than voter suppression.
At the same time, American politicians on the political left, throughout the lead-up to the 2020 presidential and 2022 midterm election campaigns, often portrayed their opponents as bigots and oppressors as they sought to capitalize on identity politics. For example, during the 2022 election campaign, one commentator concluded that white suburban women voting Republican is "almost like roaches voting for Raid," a roach-killer. During 2021, for instance, the Biden administration, which firmly believes in visual diversity and identity politics advanced exclusionary government policies in the name of inclusion. It created a pandemic-related relief program that pushed discrimination. Hence Pakistanis, but not Afghans; Japanese, but not Iraqis; and Hispanics, but not Middle Easterners were favored for pandemic relief.
Against this backdrop, scholar Tomasz Witkowski catalogues the all too human search for victimhood. This search has taken center stage in the West ever since Stravinsky's ballet, Rites of Spring, took Paris by storm in 1913. Stravinsky's ballet correctly anticipated the world's post–World War I thirst for victimhood status. Indeed, the ballet's original title was The Great Sacrifice, paying homage to a pagan ritual wherein the victim danced herself to death. The race to reclaim victimhood status as a vehicle to acquire and exercise political power fuels the desire for public attention and sympathy because such status improves the chances of survival in challenging circumstances. Scholar Jonathan Haidt suggests that the elevation of microaggressions is a component of social control in which the aggrieved collects and publicizes accounts of offenses that are part of a pattern of injustice. Since there are sizeable payoffs for reported victimizations, there is no reason why victimhood excludes self-victimization.
Witness the public reaction to African-American actor Jussie Smollet's self-victimization. After paying two black men to assault him and falsely claiming his attackers were two white men in MAGA hats yelling racial and homophobic slurs in the early morning hours in the dead of winter in Chicago, America's progressive politicians and celebrities rushed to offer support for his unbelievable story. They managed to keep quiet after his conviction and sentencing because this manufactured incident of self-abuse was allegedly consistent with a pattern of past ethnic abuse.
Meanwhile, those who wish to experience the benefits of victimization are not limited to individuals who actually fall into specific identity categories. Indeed, the Edinburgh branch of Great Britain's University and College Union allows anyone to self-identify as black, disabled, LGBT, or a woman and thus claim the benefits of victimhood. Victimhood continues to metastasize.
This fall, the University of Chicago canceled a course designed to increase the universe of individuals suffering from self-loathing. Oblivious to the scientific fact that there exists only one human race comprising of many ethnicities, the university suggested that its course, "The Problem of Whiteness," was aimed at revealing what is wrong with the white race while demonstrating that whiteness is a conspicuous problem in liberal political discourse. Not to be outdone, Cornell University students sought to be offended earlier this month after Anne Coulter, a flamboyant commentator, was invited to speak by the Network of Enlightened Women. Even though U.S. Supreme Court jurisprudence indicates that offense alone cannot qualify as a "concrete and particularized" injury that is sufficient to confer legal standing, students were infected with the self-righteousness necessary to claim that Ms. Coulter had a history of spreading white supremacist ideals and then blasted music; blew whistles; and shouted, "Your words are violence." Acting as social justice warriors, these students succeeded in becoming offended observers. Their morally superior conduct evokes Marshall McLuhan's observation that "moral indignation is a technique used to endow the idiot with dignity."
Reflecting the fallout from family breakdown and spurred by cultural elites' increasing hostility toward intact natural households and the very existence of Western nations, high schools and college students are required to participate in "privilege walks," designed to demonstrate how the students' ethnic groups contribute to societal oppression. This pattern echoes the rise of Cultural Marxism and the flight from reality. This blueprint follows what Albert Camus calls the turning point of history, which resulted from the events of July 14, 1789. These events established the secularization of history, the disincarnation of the Christian God, and the insatiable drive for human and societal perfectionism.
Building on the French Revolution, the rise of Critical Theory and the weaponization of loneliness enable authoritarian globalists to destroy existing society from within as victimhood, hate crime hoaxes, and self-hatred lead to societal self-sabotage. This overall pattern raises two crucial questions. First, where have all the adults gone? And second, when will Westerners wake up to the impending loss of our cultural heritage? For Republicans and conservatives, failing to answer these two questions effectively will ensure that Patrick Buchanan's 2002 book, The Death of the West, becomes a reality rather than a prophecy.
Harry G. Hutchison is a distinguished law professor at Regent University. His latest book is Requiem for Reality: Critical Race Theocrats and Social Justice Dystopia.
Image via Max Pixel.