Against the cultivation of victimhood: an iconoclastic essay 2

“I’m not to blame for any wrong I’ve done, because I’m a victim.”

It’s a statement often implied in defense of criminals. The accused may have murdered in cold blood, but he or she was maltreated as a child, subjected to sexual abuse perhaps, so is more to be pitied than blamed. It has proved to be an effective defense.

To ask “Can a victim not also be a villain?” is to ask an unintelligible question. What would be the use of a victim in our value scheme if he or she were also a villain? A victim, the prevailing sentiment implies, is innocent. Is pure. He or she is Pure Innocence personified.

It is not difficult to explain why being a victim has become a popular choice. Victimhood, even if entirely spurious, is commonly regarded now as a qualification for privileged treatment; routinely when it is claimed by persons identifying themselves with groups genuinely victimized in the past – certain ethnic minorities, homosexuals, or (ever less credibly) women. Victims are held in higher regard than achievers.

Besides which, it is a logical accompaniment to the popularity of compassion. In the West, nowadays, compassion is generally held to be the highest moral good.

Why? Well, to feel it is a quick fix, a drug for the ego. Little else makes one feel as good as immediately and reliably. And it can be bestowed in vast quantities without the bestower becoming any the poorer. Compassion is a supremely selfish emotion – which would be fine if only the selfishness of it were frankly acknowledged.

As it makes people feel good to show they are compassionate – by saying so, or in some cases by acting compassionately, gifting their energy, time, or possessions to their neighbors or even to remote strangers – it also makes people crave it. The need to give it stimulates the need to receive it. It’s abundant availability is a powerful inducement to neighbors and strangers to demand it; to put out their hands to receive it; to plead their superior neediness; to insist that they are pitiable; that they are victims.

Not that Western populations are divided into the pitying and the pitied; not at all – everyone can be both: everyone compassionate and charitable, everyone a victim. Everyone can have the kudos of being a pitier and at the same time the innocence of being pitiable. And with everyone getting double satisfaction, being most good and most innocent, the pitiable-pitying society is surely the happiest.

And surely, you might say, it is a truly good society? Everyone being nice to everyone, and no sufferer going unaided. A utopian Gemüthlichkeit. A mutually supportive community. Isn’t it the ideal, and hasn’t it been the ideal ever since St. Paul invented Christian morality? A universal economy of “love”?

Well, yes, it could make for pleasantness – if it were true; if the well-preened ego could rest with its philanthropy; if there were no evil in the human heart.

But because there is evil in the human heart, a feeling that everyone should be nice to everyone, however widespread, however popular and praised, will not in real life be quite enough to make it happen. In fact it seems that whenever and wherever compassion, pity, charity are most piously preached, just there are cruelty, humiliation, oppression most mercilessly practiced.

Christianity taps deep into the sentiment of pity with a God who (so the Christian myth runs) had himself tortured to death as a man in order to save mankind from innate sin, thus (the Christian myth fails to notice) planting harrowing guilt in its devotees. To cover if not to expiate that guilt, Christians are adjured to love their fellow human beings. Yet have any institutions inflicted as much mental anguish and physical agony on as many people for as many centuries as have the Christian Churches? Islam is a candidate, but Islam doesn’t preach universal love: it preaches mass murder, enslavement, and sadistic vengeance, so it escapes the charge of hypocrisy, at least in this regard.

What happens when victimization is idolized; when, as a result, there is competition in being more-victimized-than-thou; and when as a result of that, a perverted envy is born if someone is perceived as being the more victimized?

Let’s examine an actual case. I’ve said that Islam does not preach compassion. But Islam is intent on conquering the West, and to do so it is using all the opportunities that the West affords it. The very values, freedom and tolerance, that the West most esteems and embodies in its law, and that Islam would destroy, provide Islam with the means to destroy them. Muslims move into European countries and live freely. (Freely in more ways than one, as disproportionately large numbers of Muslim immigrants live on welfare handouts that the indigenous population pay for with their taxes.) They set up their mosques to preach, and their madrassas to teach their children, to hate the values of their host countries, and to love submission and intolerance. They can do so because the host countries are tolerant. If any of the indigenous people protest that Islam is manifestly incompatible with their values, their own law-courts in the name of tolerance punish them and not the Muslim immigrants. Much encouraged by this policy, some of the newcomers kill their new neighbors in acts of terrorism, intending to instill fear of Islam. But if any of the indigenous people consequently express fear and dislike of Islam, the Muslims cry that they are being subjected to irrational “Islamophobia”. Which is to say, they draw on Western compassion.

The starkest instance of this is what has happened in America since the destruction on September 9, 2001, in a profoundly religious act of hatred, of the World Trade Center in New York, when Muslims piloted two airplanes into the Twin Towers and killed close on 3000 people.

Time passes. The scar remains on the face of the city. For most Americans it is a place of tragedy. But for Muslims it is a place of victory. And certain Muslims propose to build a mosque as close to it as they can. While many on the political Left are in favor of the project – citing freedom and tolerance to support their view – there is an outcry of passionate opposition from many more.

Daisy Khan, the wife of the imam who is the front man of the plan to build the mosque and Islamic Center on the sacred site, was interviewed on ABC TV (22 August, 2010) about the mounting opposition to the project. She ascribed it to hate of Muslims which, she said, went “beyond Islamophobia”, and was ““like a metastasized anti-Semitism”.

By “metastasized” she meant, presumably, that hatred for Muslims in America was more widespread, more threatening, more potentially lethal than the hatred for Jews (the existence of which her declaration acknowledged). “Islamophobia” is a lie that reveals a twisted envy of anti-Semitism.

There is in fact little evidence of “Islamophobia”. FBI reports of recent years show that hate crimes against Muslims are rare; that there are more hate crimes against Christians than against Muslims; and there are about nine times as many against Jews as against Muslims. (See here and here.)

Regardless of the facts of the matter, Ms Khan wanted to make the point that Muslims were the victims of prejudice and bigotry. As the terms “Islamophobia” and “anti-Semitism” carry connotations of irrationality, her words implied that any feeling against Muslims is wholly irrational. But is it?

Antagonism towards Islam since 9/11, however emotional much of it may be, is not reasonless. Reasons for it abound. The attack on the World Trade Center was carried out in the name of Islam, as many other violent attacks, murders, and plans for murderous attacks have been, both before 9/11 and after. Muslims fit the role of victimizers far better than that of victims. So while anti-Islam feeling may be felt as unfair by many Muslims, it is not irrational; and Ms Khan’s analogy with anti-Semitism is wide of the mark. Tactically, however, claiming victimhood to bolster her cause was a shrewd move. Building permission for the mosque and Islamic Center has been granted by the authorizing bodies, including the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

I wonder … Are these authorizing bodies dominated by the Left? And were their arguments legal or emotional? If emotional, did they appeal to tolerance and compassion? If so, why no compassion for the feelings of those who were outraged by the very idea of the mosque in that place? I wonder about these questions because the Left in general claims moral superiority and asks for political power on the grounds that compassion is its highest value and the guiding principle of its policies. As with Christianity – from which this piety derives – it proves over and over again, wherever the Left is in power, to be an empty ideal.

Earlier in this essay I asked, rhetorically, “has any institution inflicted as much mental anguish and physical agony on as many people for as many centuries as have the Christian Churches?” The answer must be, “none over as many centuries”, but take out that phrase and even the Christian establishments are out-matched by the collectivist/leftist regimes of the twentieth century, some of which are still extant. To elect a collectivist government, to trust the Left’s claim to be the guardian of victims, to believe that voting for the Left proves your compassion, is to fall for the Great Political Lie.

Jillian Becker   July 21, 2012

  • Liz

    Excellent essay! 
    Shows both the origins and the consequences of false compassion and victimhood.
    It’s the ultimate of “adding insult to injury” for the Religion of Hatred and Violence to whine about being victims of “Islamophobia”.   

  • Jack

    Modern liberalism, ie Leftism, is nothing more than the secularization of Christian ethics. Its a Christian heresy of sorts. Instead of sacrifice to god, its sacrifice to the state in the name of the poor, the non-white, the non-Western, the non-male, the non-heterosexual, etc.. Leftism is a weakness worshiping pity cult. Christianity is the same thing except I’ll cut the original Christians some slack. They were part of a very primitive world that is two thousand years old. Modern liberals have no such excuse.

    Love what you said about Islam. It is  indeed a sadistic vengeance cult. That should be obvious to everyone in the Western world. The fact that not only is it not but that you could lose your job and your life for saying so shows just how the modern West is a cesspool of Leftist thought control. Modern liberalism is becoming as evil as the Communism of the Commissars.