Saturday, October 13, 2012

Identity in victimhood

What inflames people to fear the truth? Over the past couple of years, I’ve been called a racist, a misogynist, a homophobe, and an Islamophobe. I’m well past getting my feelings hurt, but I get depressed when people ignore me with a self-approving conscience.

The bigotry charge is liberals’ last refuge, as Charles Krauthammer notes. But all liberals are doing is saying what so many like-minded people are thinking. To an extent, we all share an urge to slander that I believe borders on social pathology.

That social pathology is a combination of group identity and presumed victimhood. Those who associate with a group, believing themselves to be unfairly disadvantaged by a corrupt system, cry foul (and worse) when someone belonging to a relatively advantaged group reinforces the rules of said system.

Over the course of history, no group or individual has been spared some measure of grief. That is not necessarily the fault of the system. To the extent that it is, the fault is not necessarily created by another group.

For example, it is not men’s fault that women bear the full burden of childbearing. Yet many women, bonded by their genetic burden, hold this against men. Whenever a man asserts his right to that unborn child, integral to his stake in the future, they cry “misogyny” and “reproductive rights.”

We see versions of this play out daily in our grievance-obsessed culture. We accommodate it because it strikes a chord with our flawed individual natures. Much of what we suffer we are born into: this earth, this status, this body, etc. The challenge to us is to exercise our reason and good will to overcome it.

The flip side to aggressive group identity is what Natan Sharansky calls “post-identity.” More on that next time.

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