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Once upon a time, in an unrecognisable period of history, victimhood was something to dread. It didn’t merely bother you. It bruised you, robbed you, raped you and sometimes even killed you. In Tsarist Russia, Jewish victims were on the receiving end of crippling pogroms; organised and state-approved orgies of hatred and petty discrimination that would subsequently metastasise elsewhere into genocide. In the Antebellum South, African American victims were treated as entirely subhuman, put to work for no pay and treated abominably by a boorish and unworldly rural class. Across Europe and all its history Romani (Gypsy) victims have been treated and regarded much like mosquitoes or spores of anthrax; cleared from their settlements with guns and wooden clubs. A modern citizen of Democratic Europe or America can scarcely imagine what this persecution was like to those who suffered it, for there is no modern example even close to equivalency.
Of course, if you spend enough time on the internet, one could easily come to a different conclusion.
Victimhood, even as it has declined as a real phenomenon, currently enjoys incredible popularity as a concept. It is no longer something to be feared, but to be craved. To be a victim in the Modern West is to have won the political and social jackpot. If your self-identification as a victim is approved, you are supplied with opportunities and benefits the rest of society can only dream about: preferential treatment in job and college/university applications, a free moral pass on many types of crime and delinquency, excessive governmental attention to your personal and social requirements, and – above all – the right to treat your failures as if they are someone else’s fault.
Who wouldn’t want to be a victim? I’m envious of them myself. Had I rallied the chutzpah to apply for this exalted status as a teenager, many struggles in my life would have been made considerably easier. I would have been spared the discomfort of worrying about my grades, my finances and job prospects. Instead of searching through the folds of my character for faults, failings and inadequacies, I could have just blamed society, the oppression of a social group ‘above’ me or the effects of my childhood. I imagine it feels good to do this, like a weight off one’s shoulders, a sudden relaxation of the body and mind. But it would have been dishonest. Many people have wronged me in my life, sometimes to the point of temporarily holding me back. But no force has been so constant or severe as to justify my giving up on life (as I have, many times). No force has been so constant or severe as to deserve the whole blame for my situation. Victimhood is something one chooses to embrace, or to decline. Every person on this earth is capable of resisting its opium.
The rise of mass victimhood is something slightly different from individual cases, being more political and rational in nature. Those who lead or contribute to mass victimhood movements do so for a bigger reason than simply feeling better. They are in pursuit of something tangible, luxurious and seductive: namely, political and social power. Black Lives Matter is the perfect case in point.
It is no coincidence that the tenure of the first ‘Black’ President oversaw a rise in African-American political ambition. Spurred on by Obama’s first victory in 2008, many Black Americans began to desire a correlative rise in their own social standing. If the President is black, they reasoned, why am I still living in sub-standard housing? If the First Lady is Black, why are we being arrested disproportionately by the police? Obama’s victory convinced many Black people that measures they used to suffer without protest were no longer acceptable. Thus arose Black Lives Matter. The name of the organisation is telling. Black lives have always mattered, but what the leaders of the new movement really meant was ‘Black Lives Matter Now’. Obama raised the value of Blackness in America, raised it above the Mexicans and Asians, the Middle Easterners and Jews. Seeing Black people in the White House supplied the Black lobby with a wild new confidence, impermeable to reason.
For an example of this confidence in practice, recall the circus over Trayvon Martin’s untimely death, during which the details of the case fell by the wayside in favour of African-American chest-beating and candle-waving. It didn’t matter then (and doesn’t matter now) that Trayvon was at fault in the incident. Those protesting his death didn’t (and still don’t) actually care for the boy at all. They simply saw a chance to take centre stage, plunge a Black flag into the soil and bask in the euphoria of Black ascendency. Black Lives Matter is a Black Power movement. Nothing more. Nothing less.
BLM is not alone. Numerous other organisations are actively pushing a victimhood narrative for the purpose of accruing political power and influence. Cuban Americans are said to provide the second most effective ethnic lobby in the United States (after the Jewish lobby). How? By endlessly harping on about the oppression of their relatives and former compatriots under the dictatorship of Fidel Castro. My tone is not meant here to cast doubt on the horrors of Communism. Castro is a butcher and a tyrant of the first order. But one would need to be very naïve to presume the Cuban Lobby has not used this grievance as a step-ladder to climb the Conservative ranks. Anti-Communism has allowed the Cuban Hispanics of America to scale the peaks of the Republican party – something they would hardly have been able to do without their nurtured survivor-status.
Here in Britain, the Muslim population invests a lot of its money and credibility in an organisation called Tell Mama, which ostensibly seeks to combat violent attacks on individual Muslims in the UK. Despite its recent creation, TM now has a budget of hundreds of thousands of pounds and commands the attention of countless journalists, MPs and Left-leaning Cabinet Ministers. In every case the equation is the same – Grievance + Exaggeration + Organisation = Political Power.
The Victimhood trend does not exist independently from our broader cultural moment, but is increasingly embedded within it. Reporting the influential findings of sociologists Campbell and Manning, the noted thinker (and author of the acclaimed ‘The Righteous Mind’), Jonathan Haidt wrote that:
“(The) culture of dignity (in America and the West) is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized. It is the very presence of such administrative bodies, within a culture that is highly egalitarian and diverse (i.e., many college campuses) that gives rise to intense efforts to identify oneself as a fragile and aggrieved victim. This is why we have seen the recent explosion of concerns about microaggressions, combined with demands for trigger warnings and safe spaces.”
It’s interesting that Haidt says people are ‘encouraged to respond’ to imagined offenses. It can hardly by denied that the forces of popular culture – especially but not only the media – actively promote victimhood through their disproportionate coverage of particular issues. Obvious culprits like The Daily Show and Real Time With Bill Maher are joined in this by more respectable and neutral-seeming foghorns like the New York Times and UK Guardian. In all of these media outlets, anti-White crimes are minimised or left unreported while anti-minority crimes are amplified. There is a complex here, a subtle and undeclared alliance between the media and minorities – between the media and grievance. If you sense a conspiracy, you’re not going crazy.
Victimhood culture is not without its victims. In a victimhood narrative, someone has to play the victimiser. And that role is naturally filled by the WHCM (White Heterosexual Christian Male). The WHCM is the cause of all victimhood. Like a bigoted Dracula, he lives to feed on the misery of others. He has no identity except this cruel nature. He is privileged, ignorant, unsubtle, biased, un-self-conscious, habitually regressive, oppressive and transgressive. He is the past. Minorities are the future. He is darkness. Minorities are the light.
That this cartoon version of reality has been so successful is an indictment of our times and of us – the human race. Because of our apathy, victimhood is taking over the world, draining orthodox conceptions of success of their logic and allure. People are desperately seeking out ways in which to fail at the hands of someone else. Where can this possibly end?