The idea of a "national conversation" has never made much sense to me. 300 million people shouting over one another sounds unproductive at best, and yet, if we were ever able to have a civil "national conversation," I propose that the very top of the agenda would be the question of how we teach our history to future generations of Americans.
The recent controversy around the teaching of Critical Race Theory in elementary schools has pitted parents against teachers, old against young, and black against white in many communities. Many Americans are upset by the concepts being taught, but fail to articulate what is wrong with talking about the darker aspects of our history, from slavery to colonialism.
My guest this Sunday was Mark Milke, Ph.D. – a Canadian author, policy analyst and columnist – who has written the definitive book to guide our national conversation on victimhood, while still grappling with America's past sins. The Victim Cult: How the culture of blame hurts everyone & wrecks civilization takes readers beyond the tired arguments of conservative culture warriors, while exposing what's really wrong with the modern trend of "grievance culture," that has infected everything from history curricula to identity politics.
The Victim Cult - Mark Milke
No one disputes that some people are victims-of others, accidents, and life. But we also all know someone who thinks like a victim. The Victim Cult is about those who play the victim card-multiplied by millions, where entire societies become stuck blaming others. They include over-the-top victim c
However, the victim cult itself is not a new phenomenon. Its origins go all the way back to the beginnings of humanity itself. Can we rid ourselves of the temptations toward blame and self-pity before it destroys American civilization as we know it?
From the archives
What happens when a grievance – real or imagined – goes viral? THREAD 👇 Based on my latest show with Mark Milke on The Victim Cult: How the culture of blame hurts everyone & wrecks civilization
1/ Most people probably know the victim narrative of Germany in the 1920s. The same victim mentality that turned the land of Bach and Beethoven into the land of Bergen Belsen and Dachau today threatens all of Western civilization.
2/ Everywhere we see new victim classes emerging. Not to deny real victims, but it's become trendy to wear the victim badge, even when it hurts your future prospects. Against the cult of victims, Mark Milke provides a vital counter-narrative to stop the viral victim meme in its tracks.
3/ Asian-American success stories contradict the victim cult's central premise: that past discrimination is responsible for today's setbacks.
Asians have succeeded in American despite ample early oppression, and heavy-handed discrimination.
4/ College students are particularly prone to the victim bandwagon bug. From Evergreen State to Yale and UCLA, student demands have snowballed into firings and cancellations who dared to question their narrative of victimhood.
Remember this ?
5/ Or this, @BretWeinstein was a true victim of the Victim Cult when he lost his job for standing up to student radicals who tried to cancel him.
6/ What all of these instances share in common is a refusal to look at people as individuals, instead of members of a group. Milke urges us to forget about the tribe. If we focus on past wrongs against one's tribes, we're all equally victims and guilty.
7/ Once you recognize this, the reparations discussion becomes impossibly complex. In some cases, such as Japanese internment, we can compensate victims for the loss of their property. But how far back can we go?
As usual, Thomas Sowell makes the incisive point:
8/ If reparations for slavery were in order, they would have been called for even more so 70 years ago, when the disparity between African Americans and whites was far lower. This suggests that the cause of the disparity was not slavery, but the devastating welfare and education policies of the 20th century.
9/ It's more art than science knowing where to draw the line, but I think it can be drawn at the level of compensating the individual who was wronged – not to future generations. The problem is that victimhood has become a kind of political strategy.
10/ People like Ibram X. Kendi call for 'moral' reparations as an alternative to financial reparations. But the impossibility of tracing back all of the victims/victimizers makes this an endless cudgel to simply browbeat one's opponents into submission.
11/ Ultimately, all the talk of microaggressions on college campuses is a product of being shielded from real victimization, which characterizes 99% of human experience throughout history.
12/ Whether you're a 19-year-old trying to gain leverage over your professor, or Yasser Arafat, the former leader of Palestine, the victim card can be a fasttrack to getting your way in today's world. In the extreme, the mindset can lead to an addiction to grievance and terrorism as a response.
13/ The Big Lesson:
If you think of yourself as a victim, ask whether this belief is helping you improve your condition, or merely win more arguments?
If not, be careful whose victim narrative you believe. Feeding the wrong one could help it go viral in the worst way.
- Website: Mark Milke, Ph.D.
- Buy the book The Victim Cult: How the culture of blame hurts everyone & wrecks civilization