Over the past few years a lot of Americans have accused a lot of other Americans of playing the victim or feeding into the mindset of victimology. And by and large, I feel, the accusers are in the right. There are of course all kinds of real victims suffering from serious problems but as of late there has been a thoroughly annoying cultural attitude that it’s somehow heroic and cool to be the victim, to be the underprivileged, and I have to say anyone who buys into that without being a genuine victim is a fucking moron. Warning, this rant will probably only seem to get more and more unfair as I go along but do bear with me if you can.
For a while I just couldn’t understand why anyone would want to be a victim. Hell I still don’t really get it. I mean it certainly does make it easy to sit around on your ass and do nothing, if you choose to identify yourself as someone being repressed by the Man, it’s easy to moan and bitch about how hard life is, without actually doing anything to improve it, when you play the victim. But aside from an easy justification for being angry and lazy why would anyone want to be the victim? Do you genuinely feel as though the system is rigged against you no matter what you do and have given up on seeing it change? Do you think you will receive more support or maybe get treated better if you play the victim? I don’t know, because I would never want to be a victim. But forget the why, what’s the net effect of all these victims, both the real ones and self identified ones? An America where we are consumed by a negative outlook on everything. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty to be negative about, but sometimes we collectively are so negative that we forget to look at the positive changes we’ve undergone. The social progress we’ve made in the last 6 or 7 decades is nothing short of astounding, and during the last few years in particular, progressive have pushed for a more and more social progress with reasonable success. Now I would argue some of the social progress we’ve made recently has been imposed on the many by the few, and that maybe by pushing so much so fast progressives have brought a huge backlash on themselves by upsetting people who aren’t ready for their agenda, but still progress has been made. I mean we are having arguments about trans people in restrooms now, that would been unimaginable a decade ago.
This overly negative view manifests itself in all kinds of places. For example school shootings are getting so much news coverage that they seem like a weekly occurrence but overall violent crime has been going down in the US for a while now, despite all the supposed violent gun nuts many media outlets and politicians tells us to be wary of (yes they exist but the media vastly overstates their prevalence in the populace). Perhaps the most damning place this negativity manifests though, is in what some like to call the liberal narrative. The liberal narrative is the general consensus within the media and many liberal institutions of how events in history are portrayed and understood and how those shape current events. The problem is that it’s kind of fucking bullshit. History is a complex beast and trying to make sweeping generalizations about it will basically always be wrong. More to the point, history does not operate in a narrative fashion. Narratives are largely regimented, they come from limited points of view, showcase events as understood by those few points of view and string all these events together in a way that makes sense and is easy to understand. History is precisely none of those things, if anything it’s pure chaos. And as such, almost every generalization made about the past is laughably incorrect.
For example, the Dark Ages is commonly known term describing a period in history where Europe went full barbarian and we lost many accomplishments of civilization after Rome fell. Total bullshit, Europe may have lost some valuable Roman innovations for sure, but it did not fall into barbarism, in fact many important advances sprung out of the Dark Ages, a term which actual scholars of history don’t and have never used because of how misleading it is. For instance, Carolingian Minuscule was invented in the Dark Ages. For those who don’t know, Carolingian Minuscule was the first standardized writing style in Europe. Before Carolingian Minuscule there were no set rules about grammar, punctuation, script size, or anything, it was anything goes. Carolingian Minuscule is among the most important developments in writing and academics in European history, and yet it’s not talked about often the way say the printing press is, because it flies in the face of the liberal narrative about the Dark Ages.
To tell you truth I could make paragraphs like the last one forever because of all the generalizations, general misunderstandings, lack of accurate scholarly discussion in the media, misinformation because of cultural differences and general need to get a narrative and headlines in place which supersedes the need to be accurate. But I want to return to the negativity and why America collectively is viewing things wrong. Let’s jump right into the controversy, the Big Bad White Man the liberal narrative is so obsessed with proclaiming as the source of all evils, does not exist as the liberal narrative understands him. Yes there have been evil, terrible white men since forever. But he’s not the only source of evil here. Let’s explore the troubled history of America. One of the more common conceptions of history is that we, the Big Bad White Men, stole America from the Native Americans. And yes that’s true in a broad sense, white people took land from Native Americans. However the problem is how both sides are portrayed. In the liberal narrative, which feeds into the perceived nobility of playing the victim, the White Man is the terrible aggressor, gunning down Native Americans, taking their land and eventually destroying the environment. By comparison Native Americans are usually portrayed as being relatively peaceful and in tune with nature, preserving the environment which the White Man would destroy. Mostly bullshit. For starters this portrayal seems to assume that all Native Americans can be classified under the same bracket because they have enough common traits, this is not even remotely true. The various Native American peoples had and continue to have many differences based on where they lived and such. Moreover the conflict was never the White Man versus the Native American, it was a bunch of Native Americans tribes fighting each other constantly, while also fighting the different nations of Europe and later the US who tried to colonize America.
If anything the most negative takeaway from the US and Indian wars should be that, even in the face of a larger, greater threat the disparate bands of Native Americans could not set aside their differences and unite to push back the invaders, like humanity always does in alien invasion movies. That’s a pretty depressing realization. Now look I’m not saying this because I think modern Native Americans have it good or have it easy and should stop asking for better, they are one of the groups most thoroughly shafted by the US at the moment and deserve more attention and support. Instead I’m trying to illustrate the absurd folly of the liberal narrative, about how shallow and unhelpful that narrative is when it comes to understanding the complexities of the situation, and by extension why it’s time people stop buying into it. The problem with the liberal narrative is that it gives people such a basic and incomplete understanding of a topic that you might genuinely be better off knowing nothing at all than only knowing the liberal narrative and thinking that means you know the topic well. Here’s another controversial example, slavery.
This is going to sound weird, but people are looking at slavery the wrong way. You’re probably wondering how that’s possible, how can slavery be anything but bad and how can it’s legacy be anything but bad? Well slavery is bad and it has left us stuck with an annoying and terrible legacy called racism but that’s not why people are looking at slavery wrong. They’re looking at it wrong because they are focused on a narrow and incomplete understanding of slavery as provided to them by the liberal narrative. In the liberal narrative, the Big Bad White Man bought and sold Black people and did all sorts of terrible things to them. And that’s true but again it tells such a small part of the story it might as well be useless. Trans-Atlantic slave trade 101: White people are only one part of the equation. In the liberal narrative White men have all agency and Black people are just victims. But reality is more complicated, because a large portion of the slavers where not White, they were Black. While there is no doubt some White men raided African lands and kidnapped people into slavery, it was far more common for White slavers to buy slaves from local African slavers, who knew the land better and had more local supplies. In common practice African slavers would capture other Africans and then sell those slaves to White slavers who then sold them to other White men, which makes White slavers the middlemen of the worst trade deals in history. That may sound depressing to some of you, the idea that Africans would enslave and sell their own and on some level it is sad. But it also speaks to African agency, it proves that not all Blacks were victims in a world controlled by White men and that’s a far more valuable lesson than anything you’ll get from the liberal narrative.
Now let’s look even more broadly at slavery. It’s done as a large scale industry. Yes there are still forms of slavery and a sex slave trade and both of these problems need addressing but on a large, international scale, slavery as it is was in the past is done and will never be back unless all of modern civilization falls. Now that’s a pretty big achievement if you think about it, 200+ years of an inhumane trade overturned and abolished worldwide. Except the achievement is so much bigger than that. Because slavery is not just 200+ years old, it’s at least as old as civilization itself and possibly even older. Egypt for example is famous for having tons of slaves to build the pyramids, which means slavery has been around for 5,000+ years not a mere 200+ years. Now think about that, within the relatively short history of the US, we have seen the complete downfall of a major industry that has persisted since the dawn of civilization and maybe before. How earth-shattering is that, that the modern world has advanced to the point where an industry that has existed since basically forever is gone? That’s a big achievement. And yet in America the most common attitude to towards slavery from a lot of liberal organizations and people is that the White men ought to apologize and feel bad for what our great-great-great-great granddaddies did to the great-great-great-great-grandsons of former slaves, despite the fact neither of the modern parties has ever experienced or participated in slavery at all. It’s fucking absurd. We should be teaching our children about how the evil slave trade is finally gone, after thousands of years of progress, but instead we seem to encourage letting it’s evil fester and divide us the way we teach it now.
This is where the liberal narrative really gets toxic. It strings together huge swathes of history with the same us vs them message, where them is almost always taken to mean White men. By perpetually showcasing history as us vs them, the liberal narrative highlights the divide between people, rather than brings them together. It encourages us to look at things negatively, to expect apologies from the privileged and to be proud of our own underprivileged struggles. It lionizes the struggles of the victims and encourages us to play victims ourselves, I mean you wouldn’t want to be in that them camp all of us are against would you? And fuck is it annoying to deal with when you do so happen to belong to that them camp and can’t do anything about it. None of this is to say that we shouldn’t keep fighting for better, that we shouldn’t be doing all we can to make the US a fairer place for everyone. But we’re being too confrontational about it. Because the liberal narrative, which is most of what a lot of people know, exacerbates conflict between the haves and have-nots. Take police brutality for example. Ideally the conversation should be about what kind of vetting process can we make to help lower corruption among police officers and what kind of changes should we make to their training to reduce violent incidents. But in confrontational America the conversation is almost always one side screaming at the other about “racist cops” and “that disrespectful kid/crook had it coming” and no one takes any steps to fix the problem beyond putting even more pressure on police officers who have enough shit to deal with already.
And worst of all, there are a lot of genuinely good people in that them camp who feel like they’re being backed into a corner. I know I feel that way sometimes, when what I am gets attacked all over the internet for just being a White man or for the crimes other White men committed when I personally haven’t done anything. Even if you can tune a lot of it out like me, it just gets fucking exhausting to see all the anti-White men shit out there on the internet. This is even evident in common progressive phrases, you remember “check your privilege” right? It should have been called something like “Understanding the differences between a white upbringing and a (insert ethnicity here) upbringing.” Instead we got the more aggressive, more confrontational “check your privilege” and man did a lot of White people lash out against it. And I wasn’t one of them, because I had someone explain to me in a very reasonable, very clear way what white privilege was, and I got it. But it’s because I understand what it is that I felt “check your privilege” was so misguided, the best way to fight white privilege would have been to get people to understand what it means and then find out who’s willing to work with you on fixing the problem. Instead we got a bunch of people angrily calling on Whites to “check their privilege” and a bunch of White angrily replying “Fuck you, we have no privilege, get over yourselves you whiny bastards,” so no substantive progress was made.
Look the reason I’m calling on people to stop playing the victim is not because I want to “go back to the good old days” or because I want to hide or repress the many problems we have in America. I’m calling on you to stop playing the victim for your own sake’s, to treat yourselves with a bit more dignity and respect. Because rather than perpetuating an us vs them fight to push social progress forward, I think we collectively would get more done if we approached other on more calm and level footing, and just explained to each other what our various problems are and what we can do to fix them. There’s this old quote from the Greek philosopher Thucydides that goes: “Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.” Major societal change takes courage and unity to achieve, and self-control and self-respect are vital to both, an aggressive confrontational attitude will not help you achieve either. It’s time for people in America to stop playing the victim, and start coming together to get things done.