Opinion: The consequences of victimhood culture

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Welcome to America, the land of the free and the home of the entitled.

Victimhood culture has created a nation of individuals who fight vigilantly against microaggressions, standing up for every underprivileged group. This must end if we want to restore individual autonomy, shape identities and effectively assist true victims.

Subscribing to victimhood culture detracts from one’s sense of personal responsibility. Those who avoid owning up to their role in their situation surrender their ability to choose by giving greater leverage to forces outside of themselves. This attitude of entitlement takes life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and turns it into government handouts, reparations and a lack of accountability for oneself. Victimhood culture allows blame-shifting, excuse-making and self-pity to keep people from being accountable for their own actions.

Victimhood culture also generates a society of people who identify foremost as being oppressed. The most important parts of one’s identity should not be based on what injustices one has faced. In a research study at Tel Aviv University, professor Rahav Gabay found that individuals who defined themselves by their victimhood were more likely to shift blame to others and see themselves as victims in all interpersonal relationships. This identity shift unfortunately perpetuates a fixed victimhood mindset that stunts individuals from being able to progress past their current circumstances. “As a result, victimization becomes a central part of the individual’s identity,” Gabay said.

The strength of a person’s character and the value of their life are defined not by what problems have been placed in their path but instead by what they have done to turn those obstacles into opportunities. A victimhood mindset grants a momentary feeling of power and moral superiority but does not improve any lives in the long run.

Furthermore, developing a victim mentality detracts from more pressing and constructive issues. American political commentator Candace Owens pointed out that promoting victimhood culture, ironically, is a sign of great privilege. She said, “In times of true injustice, no one debates gender pronouns and microaggressions. In times of real conflict, no one demands the government come take away their guns.” 

Owens cited the example of Black Americans living in the segregated South. At this time, acts as simple as using a water fountain not designated for their skin color or being out in the streets after dark could result in not just embarrassment or hurt feelings, but in death for Black Americans. Fighting for one’s rights is a genuine matter of survival, Owens said, whereas the victimhood culture we see in America today “is the plaything of a society with too much time on its hands.”

This is not to say that true victims of deprivation, crime and discrimination do not deserve empathy. The issue is the increasingly blurred line between fighting for the wellbeing of victimized individuals and promoting a culture of victimhood. Well-meaning politicians have only made situations worse by victimizing groups, from creating stagnating Native American reservations overrun with crime to funding housing projects that leave inner-city Blacks in a cycle of poverty. Letting others dictate our progress in life is a recipe for defeat.

The good news is this: The land of opportunity is not dead. We can be motivated by hope and perseverance rather than by victimhood. We can take responsibility for our own well-being and lend help to others where necessary. We will learn how to ask for help when we need it and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and become who we want to be.

Welcome to America, where you are not a victim, and where you can still be everything you dream you can be.

— Gabrielle Shiozawa
Opinion Editor

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