Perspectives: Transcending victimhood, rejecting the gospel of guilt

composite image for illustration| St. George News

OPINION – A perfect symbol of how dysfunctional American society is becoming is evident in how many people now regard being seen as a victim as a symbol of status.

This isn’t exactly a new development; after all, cultural Marxists have been pursuing class warfare through the creation of official classes of victims for decades now. Like their revolutionary collectivist forebears, their cause is fueled by pitting those they deem oppressed against those deemed oppressors.

Just like the Bolsheviks of 100 years ago, the proffered cure is turning out to be far worse than the disease it supposedly is fighting.

By transferring the conflict from economics to culture, cultural Marxists have successfully divided our society into numerous squabbling subsets that fight for power over one another. The problem here is that victimhood for the sake of ideological dominance does nothing to serve the plight of those who have been genuinely victimized.

Even worse, the claimed status of victimhood is used as sort of trump card to stifle any sort of meaningful discussion. Once a person has claimed his or her victim status, everyone else is expected to accede to his or her demands without question.

Case in point, allegations that Harvey Weinstein, a rich and powerful Hollywood insider, had sexually assaulted and harassed a number of aspiring stars have recently garnered a lot of attention. The ensuing blizzard of gossip that howled throughout social media led to a movement where others who had been harassed or sexually assaulted could show their support with the hashtag #MeToo as their status.

A friend who sincerely pointed out that lumping harassment together with sexual assault may actually be disrespectful to those who’ve been sexually abused was met with a flurry of outrage. The shame peddlers were quick to denounce him as a “rape apologist” and “misogynist” merely for seeking clarification of the issue at hand.

In reality, my friend has been a longtime ally in the fight against sexual abuse, but his denouncers were far more concerned about their own supposed superiority.

Under the rules of sacred victimhood, no one is allowed to express their thoughts openly because anything that deviates from the ideological narrative is strictly forbidden. It’s a highly effective way to control speech and thought without actually contributing to authentic understanding.

Another example of how victimhood is being lauded as a sort of status symbol can be seen in a video that seeks to illustrate what “privilege” looks like.

The video portrays a group of college students lining up for a footrace to claim a cash prize. As the race is about to begin, the group is instructed to either take two steps forward or to remain in place according to a number of factors.

Those who were born into a two-parent household were invited to take a step forward. Other factors included having a father figure in the home, access to private education, never had to help their parents pay the bills, never wondered where their next meal was coming from, etc.

After listing a dozen or more factors, the participants at the head of the field are instructed to look back in pity on their classmates who remain at or near the starting line. This is supposed to be an illustration of oppression in American society.

However, this gospel of guilt falls apart upon closer examination – the exact kind of examination that victim culture tells us cannot be undertaken without risking being labeled as an oppressor.

In the video, the race is purely about the almighty dollar. It conveniently ignores the fact that life is far more multifaceted and that, no matter how well one does financially, material wealth doesn’t accompany us to the grave.

Also ignored is the fact that there are plenty of trials – financial, medical, emotional and otherwise – found in two-parent homes and through all economic classes. There is no one alive today who isn’t, in some way, susceptible to the difficulties of life.

Instead of preaching guilt and seeking to tear down those who appear more fortunate, we should be advocating the virtue of facing our challenges with grit. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t actively encourage and lift others where the opportunity exists.

It means we should be less concerned with knocking others down to size and more concerned about bearing our own trials with courage and dignity.

Some of the most inspirational people we’re likely to meet are the ones who have overcome inconceivable odds and become outstanding human beings because of – not in spite of – their challenges. For that to happen, they first had to stop thinking of themselves as victims and start living lives of purpose.

Instead of searching for grievances to bring attention to ourselves, we should be magnifying whatever talents we possess that we might improve the world around us.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

28 Comments

  • NotSoFast October 23, 2017 at 9:27 am

    One of your most logical insights to date Bryan. And on a Monday morning. Not bad!

  • DRT October 23, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Good column Bryan. I don’t agree with a lot of your points of view, but I do believe you are right on the money here.
    And speaking of “victims,” I really do get irritated when “Little Fifi’s” owner decides that she just can’t be without her dog when she goes to a restaurant, or a store, so she get on line and orders these “SERVICE DOG” signs.
    I somehow doubt that the majority of these folks have any kind of a disability other than mental…

    • bikeandfish October 23, 2017 at 10:51 am

      Sadly, there are those who abuse the service dog protections. Businesses are allowed to legally ask for verification so a handful of Americans spoil an important privilege that alot of people need to survive and thrive in our world.

  • bikeandfish October 23, 2017 at 10:28 am

    The first mistake Bryan makes is assuming the discussion about privilege is mutually exclusive of one about strength and perseverance in the face of adversity. They are different discussions that address complex realities.

    Hyde’s war of words on identity politics and its various conversations continously exposes his inability to truly analyze concepts that don’t align with his narrow worldview. His columns consistently lack the common sense he arrogantly ascribes to himself. Its been obvious that he barely even feigns interest in those that choose different political values which only exposes how superficial his knowledge remains on the topic.

    The link he provided about his friend’s experience with the “#metoo” social media topic is telling. His friend tried to control the meaning and content of a organic attempt at solidarity (ie the strength Hyde claims he ironically cares about) in the face of sexual harrassment and assault. The secondary benefit was society having another chance to observe how truly widespread the issue is. Instead his friend acts like a victim when he gets a response from those who are tired of being told what an appropriate conversation about sexual oppression looks like. He assumes that #metoo was about teaching him instead of hearing from victims.

    Its clear that Hyde is a narrow-minded fundamentalist who surrounds himself in a bubble of other absolutist (ie his unschooling buddy). His column reflects that rigidity every week and explains his constant need to fear monger, a tool for those whose worldview doesn’t align with reality. Its a real a shame as our society will always need voices to remind us about the importance of liberty in the face of growing government intervention. But Hyde has traded the very common sense approach that conversation needs for the shiny appeal of extremism.

  • theone October 23, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Well said bikeandfish.

    I think Bryan and those who share his narrow-minded worldview are the victims of their own conspiracy fears.
    Their incoherent interpretation towards victims of sexual crimes or any crime is appalling.
    Because of their imaginary idea of peoples struggles in life, leaves me to see them as delusional and quite disturbing.
    The video of the runners was an example of financial inequality, not victimhood.
    One point you got right is how we as a Nation are divided. What you fail to see, is it comes from the likes of you and your fear mongering narrow view.
    I wish you would resist the urge to be so impudent of reality.

  • ladybugavenger October 23, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Isn’t Hollywood where the saying, “it’s not who you know, it’s who you b…” comes from? Everyone seems all in an uproar over something the rest of the world already knew was going on. Its long overdue for these actresses to wake up.

    • bikeandfish October 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm

      Your take away from Weinstein’s sexual assaults and harrassment is that actresses need to “wake up”? How about recognizing how pervasive sexual harrassment and assault are throughout America and beginning to address it fully as citizens? How about addressesing the persistence of the bystander effect and training ourselves not to be so complacent with sexual oppression? How about talking about teaching men in general to fully respect women instead of treat them like objects of sexual desire and dominance?

      The way some folks like you frame these issues is disturbing and maintains the status quo. Too many women already live a life of constant vigilance while predatory men spend decades engaging in these behaviors (Clinton, Trump, Cosby, Weinstein, etc).

  • comments October 23, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Oh come on Bike, Hyde isn’t that bad. What I like about Hyde is he is fairly “malleable” in his worldview. He used to be more of a typical r-wing loon/idiot and sounded a lot more like the Howard guy’s column. Hyde’s a cleaver fellow. I always wonder how folks with a good mind are able to keep themselves locked so firmly into mormonism. I tried real hard to be a good little mormon for a long time. Eventually the “cog dis” overwhelmed any sort of ability I had to believe in mormonism, and it’s a belief system I’ll never be able to be a part of again in this life, save but for some sort of miracle, angel, or Jesus himself coming down and telling me mormonism is true. I still admire and respect a lot of mormon culture, but I think the doctrine and belief system itself is insanity and delusion.

    • bikeandfish October 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      How many of his articles this summer have dealt with the complexities of his own ideology and its history versus demonizing broad swaths of other politics? The ratio is heavily skewed toward fear mongering. He dehumanizes anybody who practices “identity politics” (“barbarians and “savages”) while displaying a complete lack of knowledge of that political framework. He considers the fair trial of the Bundy’s a “modern day lynching” despite their consistent judgement of innocence. Lynchings don’t begin or end in a court. He recommends citizens stockpile more guns in response to the Las Vegas Massacre despite the huge number that are already privately held and the expansive freedoms our citizens have. Does that seem like a common sense or reasonable approach to a mass shooting?

      Hyde’s articles and voluntary statements meet every definition of political extremism. His self described mantle of “common sense” is at best ironic.

      • comments October 23, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        As true as a lot of that probably is I’m telling you he used to be a lot worse.

        • bikeandfish October 23, 2017 at 2:29 pm

          I hear that perspective.

          • bikeandfish October 23, 2017 at 2:38 pm

            Odd phrasing on my part. Its more clear to say your comment is a fair perspective for me to take into account.

  • NickDanger October 23, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    The quality of victimhood in our society translates directly from the quality of our society in general. You don’t see any starving Africans protesting their conditions because there’s no one to protest to. You don’t see starving Chinese protesting because they’d probably be shot or imprisoned. Here in the USA, though, there are plenty of people willing to listen to your complaints, and no one is going to make you shut up. There is much to be gained by being a victim in the USA, and nothing to be lost. Personal pride and honor are rarely considerations anymore.

    I know one thing though – I was raised NOT to be a victim. You get hurt on the ball field, you walk it off, you play hurt, and you never use that injury as an excuse. If you get fired from a job you go get another job, and you better be quick about it because bills are due. Got a ticket you didn’t deserve? Pay it. IRS audit? Deal with it. Some jerk owes you 20 grand and just filed bankruptcy? Eat it and grin. Didn’t get a big contract because someone doesn’t like you? Thinks you’re the wrong color? Wrong gender? Okay, so what. You’re not going to change the world in time to get that contract, bite down on that failure and move on, there’s work to be done.

    In any adverse situation you face in life, particularly in a nanny state like the USA, it’s going to be easy to play the victim card, get that sympathy, get a helping hand, charity, whatever you want to call it. But what’s not easy is stepping right back up to the plate again and taking another swing, with nobody’s help but your own. That’s called character, it’s a building block of the classic American winning attitude, and it exemplifies what made this country great in the first place.

    If everyone had it, we sure as heck wouldn’t be having a conversation about whether or not it’s okay to go through life as a big cry-baby. Of course it isn’t. Tighten up people.

    • bikeandfish October 23, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Take a few minutes to educate yourself Danger before spewing such ridiculousness:

      Protests in Africa: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-41174005

      “We suffer too much, we can’t even find food.”

      There are thousands of protests in China a year even though the state tries to tamp them down.

      The idea of choosing to be a victim because there is nothing to lose exposes how unmoored from reality you are in your political views. There are cheaters in every system but they are statistically rare. In this case, most victims are legitimate. Take the #metoo social media tactic after Weinstein. This exposed legions of women who have been sexually assaulted, abused or harassed throughout their life. They are choosing to be victims but are surviving being victimized by (statistically the majority) men. Sharing their account doesn’t mean they don’t pick themselves up by the boot straps everyday and try to make the most of their lives, as the diverse # of successful women sharing their stories expose. It takes an impoverished mind to assume real victimhood and perseverance are mutually exclusive. On the other hand, it takes courage and intention to truly address these issues and find change.

      Your stereotypes expose nothing more than your ignorance and prejudice, Danger. People sharing their real experiences isn’t being a “crybaby” but truly courageous considering how long men like you have told women to shut up and deal with it. These women have character more than your nickel comic storyline from the 50s could ever imagine.

      But you know this. Its just easier to fabricate a shallow response to real world issues than to truly listen to other experiences and investigate solutions to make this country better for a wider array of people. The good news is enough men are finally abandoning such toxic masculinity and truly working to make our country safer and more inclusive, something women have been demanding for centuries.

      • bikeandfish October 23, 2017 at 6:42 pm

        *aren’t choosing to be victims

      • NickDanger October 23, 2017 at 7:29 pm

        So the American media is suppressing reports of Chinese revolt? Appalling.

        Who’s the conspiracy theorist again?

        This would probably be a difficult conversation to have with you, Bike, since your definition of “sexual harassment” probably equates to my definition of the exact same mating ritual that’s been happening for thousands of years.

        So I’ll just say there’s a reason no one likes to see another person cry. It’s embarrassing for everyone.

  • bikeandfish October 23, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    No conspiracy just a reflection of the media you consume and its blindspots. American media doesn’t suppress such stories though it doesn’t focus on it because of our own nationaly biases and interests. Major American news has covered the number of protests in China the last decade though. In 2010 it was estimated there were 500 protests a day:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/01/how-china-stays-stable-despite-500-protests-every-day/250940/

    Many such protests are over labor and poverty conditions of workers:

    http://www.clb.org.hk/en/content/strikes-and-protests-china%E2%80%99s-workers-soar-record-heights-2015

    If by mating rituals you means things like preventing women from having access to birth control and family planning, legally sanctioning spousal rape, abysmal prosecution of rapists, etc, than I definitely disagree. If you mean two adults having mutually consensual sex than I clearly I am supportive. But thats not the topic at hand. What is the topic is women being coerced into “massages”, showers, oral and manual sex, or intercourse to get roles in his productions. That is not a “mating ritual” but is definitely sexual harassment and even assault in many of the cases. Men no longer get to treat women like property or sex objects.

    Per crying…I could care less what you find embarrassing. Its healthy and courageous for victims to mourn their experience and, if so inclined, to share them to help shape a better society. As you are aware, your world in which that is embarrassing is being dismantled brick by brick.

  • commonsense October 23, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    The problem with being a victim is you can’t change things because it’s not your fault. You have no control. The control is in the hands of your oppressor.

    A portion of the Black community has embraced the role of victim for too long. White privilege is to blame. It’s out of Black people’s control. This acceptance of the victim role removes any culpability and any power to change things. Victims choose to be powerless.

    Taking full responsibility for your decisions is the only way to change. It is the “road less traveled” but it is the only path to power. When you are empowered you won’t need government to protect you or pave the way for you. You will be in charge of your destiny.

    • bikeandfish October 23, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      Beyond right wing blogs, how many discussions of white privilege have you read? Intrinsic bias?

      From what you write I am guessing you get most of your information about these issues from third parties who disagree with the critique versus those who live the experience.

  • commonsense October 24, 2017 at 6:47 am

    Bikefish sounds a lot like Ed Kochiea.
    Keep drinking the California Kool Aid and feeling the shame.

    • bikeandfish October 24, 2017 at 10:05 am

      From your defensive response I am guessing I was correct.

      If “drinking the koolaid” means listening to other citizens lived experiences and a willingness to consider how we can solve such problems then I guess I need to stock up on some koolaid.

  • commonsense October 24, 2017 at 3:30 pm

    Victimization can only be solved by the victim.
    Government solves few problems and creates many more. Freedom allows all to choose their path. When you take my freedom to help a victim you hurt both of us.

    • bikeandfish October 24, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      Who is taking your freedom by addressing the overwhelming issue of sexual harassment and assault? Its an absurd argument.

      Its also absurd to believe “victimization can only be solved by the victim”. Is that what we tell the victims of hit and runs? “You know next, consider driving an armored vehicle because you shouldn’t assume its safe to walk in a crosswalk when you have taken every safety measure into account”. How about victims of violent crime? “You know its unsafe to sleep at night because that is when most felonious break ins happen. How dare you call 911 when you should have solved this yourself.” “oh, you got shot while in a movie theater? Why didn’t you wear a bullet proof vest and maintain uber vigilant situational awareness during such a leisurely activity?”

      Yet we feel compelled to treat victims of sexual assault like its their fault and they are the only ones who can solve it? Truly ridiculous and inhumane.

  • ladybugavenger October 24, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    What is white privelidge? I certainly missed that train. Im not privelidged at all. I never got anything for being white. Where do I cash in the white privelidge card?

    • bikeandfish October 25, 2017 at 12:42 am

      How often are you pulled over by police because of the color of your skin? I know statistically you are less likely to be shot, even if being aggressive, than an unarmed black man when pulled over by police. How often are you followed around by mall security while shopping because of the color of your skin? How often have you been singled out for “random” security check because of your ethnicity before boarding a plane? How many times have you been talked down about a social issue because of white on white crime (highest demographic group)? When was the last time you were redlined when trying to buy a house? Has your family ever been rounded up by the government during war because they look like our stereotypical enemy? Do they overwhelming number people in power share your skin tone?

      Its that fact that a white man with a criminal record is more likely to get a job than a person of color with no record. It means being a rare victim of “stop and frisk” random searches even when you make up the racial majority. It means seeing white people as heroes and/or people of color as the villians the majority of the time. Its means not hearing you only got into college because of affirmative action. To just name a few.

      It doesn’t mean you are guaranteed wealth, fortune or success. Its just means at the population level white people experience more unearned daily privileges that aren’t afforded to minorities. Its a way of talking about the framework of institutional racism and intrinsic bias that pollutes this country. Its important to remember that this is a conversation about a population as a whole not how each individual white person is “privileged”.

  • commonsense October 24, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    If bad things happen to me I have the choice of accepting the role of victim with all its loss of power or move forward from that point controlling as much as possible.

    The govt certainly can’t restore or prevent the consequences of bad choices or bad events.
    Freedom is empowering. Dependence is enslaving. Victim is a choice.

    • bikeandfish October 25, 2017 at 12:23 am

      You never answered my question. Who is taking away your freedom by addressing the issue of sexual assault?

      So the reporter who was assaulted by Weinstein chose to be a victim of his? How about the 40+ other women who have come forward?

      Being a victim doesn’t mean giving up power or quitting. That is such lazy logic. Victims of sexual assault take control in many ways that go beyond your narrow worldview. Sometimes physically surviving the ordeal is the only real control that they have and that is enough. Sometimes saying no is the only control they have with fat, powerful men like Weinstein and that is enough. Sometimes filing complaints with HR is the only control they have and that is enough. Sometimes quitting or refusing to work with such men is all the control they have and that is enough.

      Getting the point yet? If you took the time to actually talk to victims you might understand the myriad of ways they constantly protect themselves and “move forward”. But that doesn’t mean we get to ignore those crimes and injustices. Quite the opposite. In a just and free society its our job as citizens to stand up, protect those being abused and make our country better. This notion that such interdependence is “enslaving” and some gross oversimplification of victimhood ignores the complexities of abuse, assault and oppression.

      Plus, sexual assault isn’t some simple “bad thing that happens to you.” Its a life altering experience that shapes people in ways we are just beginning to understand. Would you talk about a soldier experiencing PTSD as being enslaved or a victim by choice? How about a survivor of terrorism? I doubt it unless you are more cold blooded then I can imagine.

    • bikeandfish October 25, 2017 at 8:59 am

      Reports are coming out about the survivors of the Las Vegas shooting and their extremely high medical bills. Did they choose to be victims of a random maniac’s crazed gun violence? Is talking about their mounting debt, that an average middleclass worker could never prepare for, choosing to be a victim? Cause I see their victimhood and their undeniable need to move forward as part and parcel of life.

Leave a Reply