Saturday, January 17, 2015
The Wrong Victims
In his weekly G-File column, Jonah Goldberg observes how quickly the focus of concern for the actual victims of the Paris terror attack has shifted toward the potential victims of a backlash. He lays the blame for this misdirection on the left's destructive obsession with victimology and its convenient rejection of collective responsibility only when it applies to Muslims.
"Simply put, victimology is the language and currency of our politics. Fighting for victims is a calling and minting new victims and grievances is a trillion-dollar industry. Heroism, fidelity, courage, duty, temperance: Their stock value may be volatile but the long-term trends have been bad for a while. But guilt and resentment are the gold and silver of our realm, a perfect hedge against the civilizational recession."
"By the way, how much have you heard about the anti-Muslim backlash over the last decade and a half? Well, here’s a fun fact. In every year since 9/11 the number of anti-Jewish hate crimes in the U.S. has dwarfed anti-Muslim hate crimes." (Me - Another fun fact - Jews constituting 1% of France's population are victims of 50% of its hate crimes).
(Goldberg continues) - "In 2001 — you know, the year when the World Trade Center was knocked down by Islamist terrorists — there were still twice as many anti-Jewish incidents as there were anti-Muslim ones reported to the FBI. By 2002, things got back to “normal” and anti-Jewish outstripped anti-Muslim hate crimes by roughly a factor of five – and it’s stayed that way ever since. In 2013, nearly 60 percent of anti-religious hate crimes were against Jews. Just over 14 percent were against Muslims. Now, I’m not saying America is anti-Semitic, far from it. It’s easily the most philo-Semitic country in the world, save for Israel (and if you spent time listening to Israelis criticize themselves, you’d consider that a debatable proposition). But when was the last time you heard a reporter from the New York Times fret over the need to be careful lest we encourage an anti-Semitic backlash?"
"The entire edifice of supposedly sophisticated left-wing thinking is about collective responsibility. For instance, The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote an impassioned case for reparations last year. Whatever you think of his argument, two things are indisputably true: (1) The piece was universally praised on the left (and parts of the right) and (2) slavery reparations amount to collective punishment. You might say that slavery was collective punishment — and you’d be right! But there are no living former slaves in the U.S. (not counting refugees) and there are no living former slave owners of the Confederacy either. Moreover, there are quite literally hundreds of millions of people who have little to no tangible connection to slavery — even by lineage. There are over 40 million foreign-born Americans today. Why should a Vietnamese immigrant be asked to pay for 19th-century slavery? My mother is half of southern heritage and half of northern, but my dad’s side of the family were all refugees from the pogroms. Do I pay a quarter reparation?
Forget reparations. What about correcting “white privilege,” taxing the “1 percent,” and denouncing all cops for the actions of a few? These, along with critical legal studies, critical race studies, and vast swaths of feminism, Marxism, post-colonialism, and other bits of wreckage from the overturned manure truck of left-wing thinking all depend, in one way or another, on notions of collective responsibility. Moreover, they depend on them not just in a communal or political sense, but as a matter of metaphysics. White people owe. Men owe. The wealthy owe. The West owes. They owe because the goddess “social justice” demands it. And this particular goddess is Crom-like in the sense that she cares not whether you were born in poverty or what good works you have done in your life. You don’t matter. All that matters is the eternal them and they owe by virtue of their identity."
"We’re breeding generations of citizens who think attacking left-wing college administrators from the left is bold and courageous and denouncing Islamic extremism is racist. We apologize for the “root causes” that lead to actual violence, while we theorize endlessly about how ultimately we’re really to blame. Our military heroes are terroristic and the terrorists are misunderstood. That’s not merely dazzlingly idiotic; it is effulgently suicidal."