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.
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