David Thompson
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November 27, 2007

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Peter Horne

You can't be a fully paid up member of the human race unless you are a victim of something.Only socially approved groups can be victims of course, so that rules out white middle class males like me. It's not FAIR! Feel my pain!

Cambias

Victimhood also has the tremendous advantage of being really really easy to achieve. You don't have to go out and do anything, just sit home eating Cheetos and feeling victimized.

David

Cambias & Peter,

As I wrote a while ago,

“For some commentators, innocence and guilt depend less upon personal actions than on the racial, economic or religious group a person can be said to belong to… Hence we’re presented with a menu of Designated Victim Groups, members of which may be afforded a measure of immunity from individual responsibility, while claiming privilege on grounds that something bad happened to someone else ostensibly a bit like them. Viewed in this light, disadvantage becomes analogous to virtue, irrespective of how it came about or why it persists.”

http://davidthompson.typepad.com/davidthompson/2007/02/phantom_guilt_s.html

I’ll be picking up on this tomorrow.

dmatr

The BBC helpfully provides a sensitive selection of "Reader's Views"[1] on the latest "offensive teddy bear" controversy. Can't quite put my finger on it but there does seem to be a slight bias in the selection of commenters.
[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7115400.stm

David

This comment from the link above was rather heart-warming:

“Lashes is a severe punishment and it is too harsh for what she did. But she has to be punished somehow.”

The commenter goes on to grumble that the school’s closure will inconvenience her son, so a sense of moral proportion is clearly in evidence. I also notice lots of blather about “misunderstanding”, “unintentional” and “honest mistake”. What’s missing, I think, are the words “savage” and “barbarous”.

KB Player

The insenstivity to other cultures schtick is a hoot. I daresay the teacher was told that in a Muslim country she should dress modestly, take her shoes off before going into a mosque, wear a headscarf for some occasions, not order bacon for breakfast and if she keeps a secret cache of booze, drink it discreetly. But I bet no-one mentioned not naming teddy bears Mohammad. It reminds me of the anecdote of Dorothy Parker's maid who found alligators in the bath and departed with this note:-

"Dear Madam," "I am leaving, as I cannot work in a house with alligators. I would have told you this before, but I never thought the subject would come up."

Vitruvius

The Sydney Morning Herald is now reporting, at http://tinyurl.com/3asea4

"A seven-year-old Sudanese student today defended his British teacher accused of insulting Islam saying he had chosen to call a teddy bear Mohammad after his own name. [...] Ms Gibbons young student said shyly: "The teacher asked me what I wanted to call the teddy. I said Mohammad. I named it after my name."

"Sitting in his garden wearing shorts, his family, who did not want their full names used, urged him to describe what had happened. He said he was not thinking of Islam's Prophet when asked to suggest a name, adding most of the class agreed with his choice.

"In a writing exercise students were asked to keep a diary of what they did with the teddy bear. "Some people took the teddy home and took it places with them ... like the swimming pool," the child said.

"Mohammad said Gibbons was "very nice" and he would be upset if she never came back to teach. He added Gibbons had not discussed religion nor did she mention the Prophet. "We studied maths and English and spelling," he said, rubbing his mop of short, curly hair."

The question then becomes: who falsely played the victim card in this case - given that there is no legitimate victim - who libeled Ms. Gibbons, any why. Recall that in the Danish cartoons case, nothing was said for months until some professional victims radicalized the issue. Same with the Regensberg lecture.

There are legitimate victims, and there are illegitimate victims. The former are called victims. The latter are called shysters, or in English, frauds. They are opportunistic existential hypochondriacs - what ever exists, they will find some way to be "sick" from it, claim victimhood, and support a huge ambulance chasing industry, all designed to elevate the power and wealth of the ambulance chasers, paid from the taxpayers' pocket.

Their headquarters is called the United Nations, home of the biggest frauds in the history of the species. After all, if you wanted to mount a huge scam, would you prefer to perpetrate it as an individual, as a corporation, as a nation, or as a planet?

Now one may well say, but Vitruvius, if one did have a great idea that would generically benefit significantly, wouldn't one want a planetary platform? No. Everything we've learned about organization theory, process, and methodology points to good systems working by pushing authority and responsibility as far toward the leaf nodes of the stucture as situationally possible.

Even Sun Tzu made clear this understanding long ago. So why do we still see people trying to over-centralize control mechanisms? It's usually because they are either honestly simple, or they want to personally benefit from the perpetration of a fraudulent mechanism. It is the combination of these two phenomena, honest oversimplification and dishonest fraudmeisters, that is responsibile for most of our species' misbehaviour.

Caveat emptor secus emptor culpa.

dmatr

The teacher has now been charged.

"A [UK government] spokesman said the first step was to "understand the rationale behind the charge" [...] "We will consider our response in the light of that," he added.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/7117430.stm

Rich Rostrom

The current apotheosis of victimhood has long history. It goes back, I think, to the early 1800s. That was when British romantics championed the picked-on Greeks against the oppressing Turks. French and Russian sympathies were also engaged. The Christian powers intervened for the Greeks. Victimhood became valuable when there was an audience.

The great boost came after WW II and the revelation of the Holocaust. The ultimate victim status of Jews was an immense PR boost to the Zionists and later on to Israel. I don't think that dozens of U.S. state legislatures would have voted pro-Zionist resolutions in 1947-48 if there had been no Holocaust.

Black Americans found it useful, too: the more injuries they could show, the more compensatory measures they could demand.

Success, of course, spawns emulation. It's been said that lot of Palestinian nationalism apes Zionism


It occurs to me though, that there are other patterns at work too. For instance, the Palestinians' claims of victimhood are less intended to gain sympathy than to blacken Israel. (ISTM) Japanese and German claims to victimhood due to the ways WW II ended are really about establishing moral equivalence and thus evading national guilt.

Islamic Rage Syndrome is not really connected to "victimhood". It's classic intimidation by tantrum.

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