Greetings from the bottom of the victim hierarchy.
Er, make that next to the bottom. My husband is at the very bottom. He’s a white Christian male. Oppressor! Supremacist!
His “people” – Irish Catholic immigrants – were once near the top of the victim hierarchy, but such a concept didn’t exist in the pre-post-modern era of the early 20th century. In Maine the KKK focused their hate on the Catholics, given the dearth of black people to persecute. I guess the Klansmen were threatened by the idea that we cannibals consume the actual body and blood of our Savior through the Eucharistic mystery. Worse, the Catholics were subversives, foot soldiers of the Pope, just waiting for orders from Rome to mobilize against the USA.
Anyway, such fears eroded over time as the Irish and other Catholic immigrants assimilated into the culture of the melting pot, one nation, under God (or not, if that’s your thing), indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
With assimilation, the generations that sprang from Catholic immigrants were able to become part of the American meritocracy: work hard, produce, and follow the rules, and you can rise above your circumstances. What we didn’t know, until post-modern academia revealed it, is that the opportunities we enjoy can’t be attributed to the actions of progenitors striving on behalf of their families and communities in a country established for prosperity through ordered liberty. No, in post-modern truth, it’s all about the dominance of our skin color and the dominance of the (hateful, intolerant) Judeo-Christian tradition: we are the beneficiaries of systemic privilege and institutionalized white supremacy, whether we are aware of it or not.
It’s an original sin for which there is no absolution, no redemption, and no Savior.
We can’t overcome it by being good Christians: love thy neighbor as thyself; charity; kindness; benevolence. An attitude of live-and-let-live fails in that it’s passive acceptance of the racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic status quo.
Silence is violence and all that.
We must acknowledge our original sin (check our privilege) and work to dismantle the system so it can be built back up in such a way that all persons have an equal opportunity to self-actualize. Whatever that means.
Now, if all of this were just academic we wouldn’t notice it as we go about our lives. But it’s escaped from the walls of the ivory towers and invaded the culture where we all live. (Especially social media!) Americans who feel marginalized due to some attribute of color or religion or sex or disability embrace the concept of systemic oppression and claim the moral authority of victims. Unfortunately for some of the oppressed, victimhood has an ever-shifting hierarchy, depending I guess on which have the fiercest activists and advocates railing against the powers-that-be (oppressors).
And woe to the individual who doesn’t understand his or her place in the hierarchy! You will be shamed and put in your place, viciously. See here for examples. Your apology will not be good enough. You will be bullied, and your family, job, and affiliations will be fair game, too. Silence is violence, but saying the wrong thing is a figurative death sentence.
If all this seems impossible for mere human beings to solve, rest assured it’s not meant to be solved. At root it’s a power struggle, and human history can be viewed as the story of one power struggle after another.
Which brings us to the deplorables and their elevation of Donald Trump to the most powerful position in the world.
Electing an inspirational healer named Obama did nothing to redeem us from our original sin. If anything, divisions became more pronounced as victim groups struggled for their places in the hierarchy. Our benevolent leader tried valiantly to give them their proper due, God love him.
Meanwhile the regular Joes and Janes across the country, who never thought they were especially privileged and who fretted over their families’ stalled or back-sliding prosperity, were looking for leaders and policies that could shake things up and reverse their perceived decline. They felt liberated by Trump’s audacious refusal to speak in politically approved terms. Trump was their mechanism for shifting power away from the progressives’ push for an unattainable post-modern utopia.
To me this makes Trump an anti-hero. Some of his policies will help the country. Others will hurt. I’m keeping my expectations honest and simply hoping for implementation of the former and defeat of the latter. Meanwhile I intend to live my life and grab what happiness I can. It’s called perspective, and I aim to keep it.