Travis Rowley: American Victim
Saturday, February 15, 2014
Creating the widespread impression that particular people share a condition of victimhood is undoubtedly found within the Democratic playbook – the most common and glaring examples being blacks, gays, and girls.
But we must not forget Hispanics, Arabs, Native Americans, Asian-Americans, Muslims, immigrants, illegal immigrants, children of illegal immigrants, the elderly, the young, the poor, active military personnel, military veterans, and nations of the Third World.
Oh, and Earth.
The victim card has become so overplayed within the political realm that we’re now hard-pressed to find anyone within the liberal lexicon that isn’t seen as a casualty of American society. Even white, heterosexual males – particularly union members – qualify among the injured. After all, they are oppressed by greedy CEOs and evil corporations – the capitalist system itself.
That is, they are harmed by other people’s freedom.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that traditional Americans don’t believe in valid injustices. Surely, not all victims are of the fantasy variety. For instance, those people who suffer at the hands of thieves, murderers, and rapists. Or anyone who happens to incidentally read a column written by the Projo’s Froma Harrop.
In fact, conservatives continuously point out the harm done to otherwise innocent and unsuspecting citizens by government actors. What public unions have done to the average laborer and what the welfare state has done to the black community are just two examples of the state’s commitment to reckless endangerment.
The famed libertarian Ayn Rand once summarized the original American approach to handling the reality of injustice: “The government’s function was changed from the role of ruler to the role of servant. The government was set to protect man from criminals – and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government.”
A Crippled Mind
Aside from taking one’s money in order to offer it to other people, perhaps the cruelest action a government can take is to inject its citizens with an outlook of victimhood – to preoccupy them with sentiments of anger, envy, pessimism, and defeat.
Yet, that is the Democratic method.
Buttressing scores of socialist policies is the idea that certain people are helpless and incapable; that they are “disadvantaged” or “disenfranchised” due to what others have done – not necessarily to them, but to their respective group.
Invariably, this requires a stripping of the individual out of every equation and scenario. What remains is the establishment of a group identity, and the irreproachable lesson that every member shares an identical tale of struggle, and needs government help.
Or, worse, is entitled to it.
Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D), produced a short film several years ago that helped to expose the ugly depravity of the welfare condition. Standing within a like-minded crowd outside of a New York City welfare office, a black man confesses to Pelosi that he’s “not looking for a job,” that he hasn’t worked in “half a decade,” and that he’s entitled to other people’s money “because my ancestors came here [and] helped build this place…My ancestors, the slaves.”
These types of outright confirmations of the conservative indictment of the welfare state have a way of getting even prominent liberals to acknowledge basic human nature. “This is painful for a liberal to admit,” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote in 2012, “but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.”
With an awareness of the power and sanctity of the human spirit, conservatives aim to protect and foster an attitude of independence. While they recognize the reality of hardship and the need for charity, they are careful not to allow the victim mindset to calcify.
Even if someone has a legitimate claim to victim status, it is a disservice to continually remind him of that. A sense of victimization threatens to sap the spirit. It’s that simple.
“I don’t like pity. Pity just makes me weaker,” Isaac Lufkin told the world several weeks ago. Lufkin is the 14-year-old Rhode Islander who was born without arms. As many learned when he was introduced during the airing of the Super Bowl, he’s also the kicker for his undefeated freshman football team at Classical High School. He has plans to someday play in the National Football League.
He also has a mother who says, “I don’t find him disabled at all…And I never looked at him that way.”
He also has a doctor who has advised against the use of prosthetic arms. According to CNN.com, “Isaac has become so capable and flexible on his own – able to type, play video games, eat and dress himself with his feet – prosthetic arms may hinder that.”
A crutch would hinder this crippled boy.
Surely, Isaac is aware that he has been unduly disadvantaged in this life. But nobody around him seems to be willing to allow him to dwell on that fact. Nor does he want them to.
"I look forward 20 years and I'm on my own, and I have my own house,” Isaac explained. “Who's going to help me? My mom's gone. Who's going to help me? I'll just be sitting on my bed in the same clothes. Never being able to brush my teeth or my hair or washing it. No, that's not a life for me.”
Today, Isaac is somehow opening up cans of Coke for himself.
At the outset of the latest economic recession – amidst news reports about how terrible things were, and how much worse they were likely to get – conservative icon Rush Limbaugh offered a warning to his listeners that was sure to confuse his left-wing detractors. As far as the recession was concerned, Limbaugh advised everyone “not to participate in it.”
Sure enough, the progressive website ThinkProgress.org excoriated Limbaugh for “laughing off the recession” and “belittling the poor and dismissing the economic trouble of others.”
It’s informative to compare Limbaugh’s advice with the Democrats’ message during the controversy over extending federal unemployment benefits last month. In order to justify the extension, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) reminded the public that those who had been collecting government checks for 99 weeks had “[lost] their jobs through no fault of their own.” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D) recently echoed Pelosi’s perspective, arguing to “re-establish the safety net for those who are unemployed through no fault of their own.”
How else are we to interpret the liberal ideology other than as the wholesale rejection of the spirit of Isaac Lufkin?
Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is the author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.
Related Slideshow: New England Worker Fatalities
Below are the top 25 deadliest jobs in New England, based on the absolute number of fatalities for each occupation from 2008 to 2012, the most recently available year. Along with fatality figures, the median salary for each position, the overall occupation category, and the number of on-the-job deaths for each category are included. Where necessary, descriptions of each job are also provided. Data was obtained from the New England office of the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics in Boston. Note that data for 2012 remains preliminary. It will be finalized later this spring.
Number of Fatalities: 6
Median Salary: $39,980 to $54,560
Occupation Group: Community and social service occupations
Total Occupation Fatalities: 12
Note: Category encompasses several specific occupations, including social workers in the child, family and school, health care, mental health and substance abuse fields. Because of insufficent data a breakdown by specific occupation was not available.
First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers
Number of Fatalities: 8
Median Salary: $36,820
Occupation Group: Sales and related occupations
Total Occupation Fatalities: 26
Note: First-line supervisors directly oversee and coordinate activities of retail sales workers in an establishment or department. Duties may include management functions, such as purchasing, budgeting, accounting, and personnel work, in addition to supervisory duties.
Number of Fatalities:8
Median Salary: $22,670
Occupation Group: Transportation and material moving occupations
Total Occupation Fatalities: 167
Note: Includes those who drive trucks or other vehicles over established routes or within an established territory and sell or deliver goods, such as food products, including restaurant take-out items, or pick up or deliver items such as commercial laundry. May also take orders, collect payment, or stock merchandise at point of delivery. Includes newspaper delivery drivers. Excludes Coin, Vending, and Amusement Machine Servicers and Repairers and Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers.
Number of Fatalities: 9
Median Salary: $73,280
Occupation Group: Transportation and material moving occupations
Total Occupation Fatalities: 167
Note: Category includes those who pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft on nonscheduled air carrier routes, or helicopters. Requires Commercial Pilot certificate. Includes charter pilots with similar certification, and air ambulance and air tour pilots. Excludes regional, National, and international airline pilots.
Number of Fatalities: 12
Median Salary: $35,250
Occupation Group: Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations
Total Occupation Fatalities: 64
Note: Fallers use axes or chainsaws to fell trees using knowledge of tree characteristics and cutting techniques to control direction of fall and minimize tree damage.
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