Victim Status and the Political Right | Laura Finley

Victim Status and the Political Right | Laura Finley

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 Times magazine, “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 better describe 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.

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

More in Opinion

.
It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas – in November

These days, we’re all used to walking through retail stores in October… Continue reading

.
Give thanks; gratitude makes us happy

Because life is mostly made up of little experiences, occasionally interrupted by… Continue reading

.
Cash it in means nothing today

Slick Willie Sutton, the 1930’s bandit who favored elaborate disguises, was once… Continue reading

.
Can there be detention in Sunday School?

If you ever want to test the limits of your patience, your… Continue reading

.
Ding-dong bell; makes me feel not well

Our elected representatives in Washington produce bad ideas like cows produce methane.… Continue reading

.
Drug price controls always a bad idea

One of the things most people who write about politics won’t tell… Continue reading

Suquamish agree with judge on Makah whale hunt

The Suquamish Tribe was pleased to learn that after a weeklong hearing… Continue reading

Climate change: Global crisis requires local action

World leaders are working to address climate change, but we should be… Continue reading

.
Science is deafening, doesn’t have to be

It’s time to be honest. Despite all the scientific chatter, nobody yet… Continue reading

Elwood Watson
Conservatives phony on Critical Race Theory

Unless you’ve been in a deeply comatose state, you’ve probably noticed the… Continue reading

.
Dems unite or it’s going to be a disaster

Democrats can certainly try to convince themselves that the Virginia gubernatorial defeat… Continue reading

.
Thanks vets for what you’ve done, are still doing

I’m not complaining, but after 23 years of column writing, it becomes… Continue reading