FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Victim Status and the Political Right

In all honesty, there is a lot I do not understand about the Right. Although the Left is far from flawless, it strikes me that the Right is full of hypocrisy. They don’t want big government to tell me what to do and not do with my vagina—until they do want exactly that. They want the free market to be uninhibited yet take all manner of funding from interest groups and allot record levels of corporate welfare—and impose ant-free trade tariffs. They don’t want undocumented immigrants until they do want them as laborers. And on, and on…

These hypocrisies are pernicious, but one that really boils my blood is the calling out of the Left as “snowflakes” who simply want to maintain victim status while at the same time fulling embracing victimhood. While this is true of many on the Right, no one embodies that hypocrisy better than Donald Trump.

Calling out the Left is part of the broader attack waged by the Right, and by Trump himself, against so-called political correctness. Labeling the Left as politically correct or as snowflakes merely serves to shut down conversation and dismiss important ideas. As Dana Schwartz wrote in a February 2017 article for GQ, however, “There is not a single political point a liberal can make on the Internet for which ‘You triggered, snowflake?’ cannot be the comeback. Its purpose is dismissing liberalism as something effeminate, and also infantile, an outgrowth of the lessons you were taught in kindergarten. ‘Sharing is caring’? Communism. ‘Feelings are good’? Facts over feelings. ‘Everyone is special and unique’? ‘Shut up, snowflake.’”

The derogatory use of the term snowflake comes, in large part, from the film Fight Club, an adaptation of the 1996 Chuck Pahluniak novel of the same name. In it, the narrator joins an underground men’s fighting club, where members repeat the mantra, “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake.” Men’s rights activists, bodybuilding forums, and the political Right have picked up on this mantra, which many have called the “manosphere.” In reality, the roots are far deeper, emanating from the Right’s need to reject the threat of communism by labeling it “red” or “pink,” hence “wussified” or feminine. Republicans, then, use the rhetoric of “men” while Democrats are “women.”

But, in reality, those slinging the snowflake allegations, as Amanda Hess wrote in June 2017 in New York Timesmagazine, “tend to seem pretty aggrieved themselves — hypersensitive to dissent or complication and nursing a healthy appetite for feeling oppressed.” What makes one a snowflake, supposedly? An inflated sense of self-importance, an inability to handle criticism, demand for respect, and a sense of victimhood supposedly disproportionate to reality. Sound familiar? That is Donald Trump embodied.

When he’s insulted, he melts down on Twitter, berating people in a fashion not dissimilar to a middle schooler. He is, supposedly, a victim of various attacks by individuals and institutions, most often the press, of course, but also Hollywood celebrities, Broadway stars, even a Gold Star mother. He is the victim of a “witch hunt” regarding collusion with the Russians in the 2016 election. Could any words betterdescribe victim status than “witch hunt?”

Trump won the election by owning and encouraging victim status. His squad was all too quick to buy the rhetoric that their jobs have been lost or are at risk to immigrants, that people from certain countries threaten our safety, that women levy false accusations to destroy men, and that rights for LGBT individuals threatens the sanctity of the “American family,” among other things. Even “Make America Great Again” presumes some great travesty befell the poor nation. Victims must be returned to a state of prominence!

Likewise, the notion that the Left is too soft to handle certain conversations and the minimizing of people feeling “triggered” is also in the Right’s playbook, albeit using different language and tactics. The continued efforts to criminalize nonviolent protest, for example, show that the Right is all too happy to shut down dialogue.

I believe that there is something to be said about overdoing victim status. That is a worthwhile conversation. But when the very real picture of the U.S. is one that is still tremendously racist, sexist, militaristic and unequal, it is deeply infuriating that negative labels prohibit real discussion and actual action.

More articles by:

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

November 15, 2018
Kenneth Surin
Ukania: the Land Where the Queen’s Son Has His Shoelaces Ironed by His Valet
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Spraying Poisons, Chasing Ghosts
Anthony DiMaggio
In the Wake of the Blue Wave: the Midterms, Recounts, and the Future of Progressive Politics
Christopher Ketcham
Build in a Fire Plain, Get What You Deserve
Meena Miriam Yust
Today It’s Treasure Island, Tomorrow Your Neighborhood Store: Could Local Currencies Help?
Karl Grossman
Climate of Rage
Walter Clemens
How Two Demagogues Inspired Their Followers
Brandon Lee
Radical Idealism: Jesus and the Radical Tradition
Kim C. Domenico
An Anarchist Uprising Against the Liberal Ego
Elliot Sperber
Pythagoras in Queens
November 14, 2018
Charles Pierson
Unstoppable: The Keystone XL Oil Pipeline and NAFTA
Sam Bahour
Israel’s Mockery of Security: 101 Actions Israel Could Take
Cesar Chelala
How a Bad Environment Impacts Children’s Health
George Ochenski
What Tester’s Win Means
Louisa Willcox
Saving Romania’s Brown Bears, Sharing Lessons About Coxistence, Conservation
George Wuerthner
Alternatives to Wilderness?
Robert Fisk
Izzeldin Abuelaish’s Three Daughters were Killed in Gaza, But He Still Clings to Hope for the Middle East
Dennis Morgan
For What?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Government is Our Teacher
Bill Martin
The Trump Experiment: Liberals and Leftists Unhinged and Around the Bend
Rivera Sun
After the Vote: An Essay of the Man from the North
Jamie McConnell
Allowing Asbestos to Continue Killing
Thomas Knapp
Talkin’ Jim Acosta Hard Pass Blues: Is White House Press Access a Constitutional Right?
Bill Glahn
Snow Day
November 13, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Midterm Results are Challenging Racism in America in Unexpected Ways
Victor Grossman
Germany on a Political Seesaw
Cillian Doyle
Fictitious Assets, Hidden Losses and the Collapse of MDM Bank
Lauren Smith
Amnesia and Impunity Reign: Wall Street Celebrates Halliburton’s 100th Anniversary
Joe Emersberger
Moreno’s Neoliberal Restoration Proceeds in Ecuador
Carol Dansereau
Climate and the Infernal Blue Wave: Straight Talk About Saving Humanity
Dave Lindorff
Hey Right Wingers! Signatures Change over Time
Dan Corjescu
Poetry and Barbarism: Adorno’s Challenge
Patrick Bond
Mining Conflicts Multiply, as Critics of ‘Extractivism’ Gather in Johannesburg
Ed Meek
The Kavanaugh Hearings: Text and Subtext
Binoy Kampmark
Concepts of Nonsense: Australian Soft Power
November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail