“National politics and elections are dominated by emotions, by lack of self-confidence, by fear of the other, by insecurity, by infection of the body politic by the virus of victimhood.”
– Tariq Ramadan
The subject of victimhood has increasingly become a staple in our political discourse. Many on the left claim that certain members of society cannot get ahead because they are constantly oppressed by white, Christian men. On the other side, conservatives argue that the left is encouraging a victimhood mentality in a cynical attempt to gain votes.
We throw the term around on a regular basis, but when do we stop to consider what victimhood mentality is? What does it look like? And most importantly, how is it damaging American society?
If we are going to curtail the growth of victimhood culture, we need to make sure we understand what it is, why it exists, and how we can eliminate it from our national psyche.
What Is Victimhood Mentality?
There are several definitions of victim mentality — but the simplest explanation is this: Victimhood mentality is a state of mind leading people to live with a perpetual sense that external forces are wronging them. These forces can include life events, one’s heritage, and other people.
When folks don the identity of the victim, they go through life seeing the worst in every circumstance. They adopt a mindset that tells them they cannot do anything to change their station in life because a particular set of circumstances — either real or imagined — prevents them from fulfilling their desires.
There are plenty of examples that illustrate the victimhood mentality in action. A black man feels that he can’t find employment because racist white businesses judge him by his skin color. A woman believes that she is being passed over for promotions because of sexism. A young white man assumes that he will never be accepted into a college because of affirmative action programs.
In the individual, victimhood mentality engenders a sense of resentment — and even hatred — towards those seen as oppressors. It can prevent people from pursuing their goals because they believe they are already defeated; they are unable to achieve success — not because of their own flaws or mistakes — but because this other, more powerful party is out to get them.
Symptoms of Victimhood Mentality
“But victimhood was seductive, a release from responsibility and caring. Fear would be transmuted into weary resignation; failure would no longer generate guilt but, instead, would spawn a comforting self-pity.”
– Dean Koontz
A person who adopts a victimhood mentality can display a myriad of behaviors, each of which could become destructive if not addressed. Moreover, they can have a damaging effect on others; it can destroy relationships and elicit abusive behavior.
This isn’t to say that the problems experienced by people with a victimhood mentality are not valid. Many deal with legitimate issues. Victimhood mentality isn’t about the problems themselves; it is about the way people react to their circumstances.
Perpetual victims seem unable to take responsibility for their actions, preferring to blame others. If they become depressed, it is because of someone or something else. If they fail to accomplish a particular goal, they blame the obstacles in their way.
Victims do not look inward and are unlikely to work to improve themselves, as they believe that the world will continually subvert their efforts. Put simply; they never acknowledge what they may have done to contribute to their circumstances.
An example would be the disturbing crime rate in urban cities. Many on the left point to racism and bigotry as the reasons. Are there outside forces that contribute to the high crime rates? Sure. But progressive policies do more to increase crime than actual bigotry. The reality is that the people living in these areas are the only ones that can address the problems in their environments .
Everything Is Horrible
To the person with the victimhood mentality, every negative situation is an utter disaster. These individuals tend to exaggerate their problems. When it comes to culture and politics, members of groups that have been historically disaffected tend to take individual incidents and portray them as widespread epidemics.
If a white police officer unjustly shoots an unarmed black man, left-wing groups like Black Lives Matter and the establishment media will make it seem as if these types of incidents are happening to black people all across the country every day. Of course, the statistics do not support this supposition, but the victimhood culture is not about facts.
The victim mindset causes people to find the negative even in positive situations. Minorities who are raised to believe that the majority of whites are racists find it difficult to accept genuine overtures; it’s the reason so many on the left insist that President Trump is racist — even though he has demonstrated that he does not carry animus towards minorities.
You can show them the videos of Trump interacting with blacks in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. You can bring up the fact that he received an award for making positive contributions to the black community. You can even tell them about Trump donating money to support Senator Rand Paul’s trip to Haiti to provide free surgeries for those affected by the earthquake. They will not accept any evidence that contradicts their victimhood narrative.
Distrust, Paranoia, and Resentment
Victimhood mentality breeds resentment and distrust of people. Those who adopt this mindset believe the majority of people with whom they interact are against them. At times, these negative feelings can be directed at one group of people.
This manifestation of victimhood culture is probably the most common when it comes to different types of Americans. Members of the LGBTQ+ might resent Christians, who might not agree with the lifestyle but support their right to live as they wish. Ultra-leftist feminists consistently display hostility against men. On the other hand, members of the “Men Going Their Own Way” (MGTOW) movement routinely express suspicion of women because they believe females are manipulative and selfish.
Sometimes, these negative emotions might be the result of being wronged by someone from the other group. In other cases, these individuals could get their attitudes from friends and family members. Either way, folks so afflicted tend to lash out at the offending group.
Victimhood Is Dangerous
The victimhood mentality has become prevalent in American society — and it is becoming increasingly pernicious. Our nation is now more divided than it has ever been. Individuals seem incapable of having a civil disagreement over political and cultural issues without it devolving into name calling and even violence.
The left has used this mindset to manipulate groups of Americans into supporting Democratic politicians, but that’s not all. They’ve convinced racial minorities and members of the LGBTQ+ community that anyone who does not support the Democratic Party is a bigot, and part of the system that constantly oppresses them. Instead of promoting the idea that people can achieve the success they desire, they encourage folks to embrace a victimhood identity that prevents them from moving forward. But we much persuade them to reject victimhood and embrace victory.