Identity Politics: The Slippery Slope to Victimhood

Identity Politics: The Slippery Slope to Victimhood

Everyone is a victim.

No, I mean it. Whites are victims of their variegated identity crises, minorities are victims of systemic racism, the uber-rich are victims of draconian regulatory policies, and the POTUS is the victim of polemic from both sides as well as a gerrymandering congress.

Get the picture?

Sure, it’s a tiered system. Some people are bigger victims than others. I’m thinking here about 10% of the Vietnamese population that were born with serious physical deformities thanks to the agent orange still swimming around in their water. Maybe they’re on par in victimhood with the whole of North Korea’s population, give or take a couple of marks.

Here’s the thing: everyone’s got it bad in some way. Systems, by their nature, tend not to tolerate people they were meant to exclude or anyone who acts outside systemic boundaries.

As the economy balloons and globalism proliferates, we in the US have seen an equally large jump in suicides, making it the tenth most common cause of death in the US. Whites tend to commit suicide at almost triple the rate of blacks, and men at triple the rate of women.

Looks like us white dudes also get to be the victims of, well, white dudes.

Victimhood as Identity

Anyone who tries hard enough can conjure up a victimhood complex. Millions of historical injustices lay at our fingertips, just a google search away. Think of as many semantic variations of ‘it’s not fair’ you possibly can and get ready to air your grievances, because if you’re a breathing human you’re sure to have a few.

We can’t overlook the role of history in culture and society. We can’t stop trying to fix injustices or abandon our values.

You know what we can do, though, individually?

Stop playing the victim card.

Seriously. Knock it off right now. Do you want to be a happy, healthy, well-rounded person with nuanced ideas? If the answer is yes then it’s time to stop victimizing yourself personally. It’s toxic. Not only that: it’s dangerous.

Imagine you’re an American Born Chinese. Someone is pissed about the CCP Virus, or COVID-19, making its way through the US of A. You’re walking down the street, just being Chinese, when someone hurls a few insults and possibly a milkshake your way. Just like that you’ve become the victim of a racially-motivated crime.

What to do?

You can:

A: Take it personally. See this as an attack against your very identity as a human. Play it over and over in your head. Tell all your friends about it. Call the media. Begin attributing the racist and vitriolic behavior to a certain portion of the US citizenry and America itself. Weave this narrative into your identity.

B: Stop. Take a minute to understand what just happened: someone attacked you specifically because of your race. Wonder how this affects you as a person who has no connection to China or its government. Imagine that had a person with similar facial features been in the same spot at the same time it would have been them who took vanilla to the face. Make sure people are aware of what happened to you, but try not to be like your attackers by generalizing a massive swath of the American population.

Which one of these is going to help you sleep better at night?

It’s no contest. While option B is going to require some mental fortitude, taking this train of thought is going to leave you at a station far more scenic than A.

This is because, with option B, you’ve decided not to take what happened to you personally. That’s damn hard because it literally happened to you. However, a little thought goes a long way to expose the truth: this incident had everything to do with the warped ideas the attacker had about your race and absolutely nothing to do with the qualities that make up the majority of your identity. It could have been anyone in that position and the result would have been the same.

Victims and Aggressors

Victimhood begins with the pathology of the aggressor. This is an important distinction because for a victim to even exist there must be a victimizer. To be a victim instead of someone getting their just desserts necessitates the existence of that pathology. Once again, by definition pathology must be wrong, granting victims the right of moral superiority in most cases.

That’s why playing the victim feels so good. You get to occupy the moral high ground not just for what you did but for what was done to you.

You’re absolved of whatever failures could arguably have resulted from victimhood, and you’ve no responsibility to try and understand what shaped the pathology of your aggressor.

This may sound like a sweet deal. I promise you it’s not.

Victimhood, like whatever portion of your identity caused it, leeches its way into your ego (or identity, idea of yourself, whatever you want to call it). Slowly but surely you begin to see yourself as someone who’s been done wrong by, and you start to interpret the actions of others and society as perpetuating this. It doesn’t matter if there’s truth in that or not. You’ll act accordingly and it will suppress your ability to see the forest for the trees.

Eventually, this gives way to a lack of trying. How can it matter what you do if you’re in a continual state of oppression? If the system is stacked against you then what good is there in trying to overcome it?

Worse, you may even forego your personal responsibility. If you’re in a state of consistent victimhood and oppression (and it’s SYSTEMIC, you say) then any failure or marginalization of your efforts no longer has to be your fault. You can fail to the moon and back and place the blame squarely on the apparatuses of oppression that are keepin’ you down.

We’re not responsible for or beholden to the characteristics we were born with and into, but victimhood makes us act like we are.

It grants the people who are trying to gain power over you just that power. What’s really pernicious about it, though, is the subjugation of one of the West’s perennial values: personal responsibility for your success, and owning up to your mistakes, and the dream that you can be more than what your circumstances seem to allow.

In a way, victimhood kills the American dream. No doubt it’s hard and painful to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. No s*** some people are more privileged than others and have done nothing to earn their success.

Victimhood is real. However, in the words of Corporate Avenger, freedom is a state of mind. Victimhood is also a state of mind. Viktor Frankl, in the depths of a nazi concentration camp, found freedom in the realization that his captors couldn’t take away the most important element of his humanity: his freedom in how he chose to feel and react to them.

We’ve all got a choice. Your choice is your power. Your decisions shape your understanding.

Choose the person you want to be, and rise up against your circumstances. Because anyone who wishes to make you a victim wants you to stay that way.

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