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White Privilege ,Civility and the “Victimhood Culture” in Bergen County

village council meeting

file photo Village Council Meeting by Boyd Loving

October 23,2017

the staff of the Ridewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, In the paper , “The Rise of Victimhood Culture.” by Conor Friedersdorf  , Friedersdorf explains, Americans previously settled conflicts within the frameworks of the “honor” and “dignity” cultures:

“In honor cultures like the Old West or the street gangs of West Side Story, they might engage in a duel or physical fight. In dignity cultures, like the ones that prevailed in Western countries during the 19th and 20th Centuries, ‘insults might provoke offense, but they no longer have the same importance as a way of establishing or destroying a reputation for bravery,’ they write. ‘When intolerable conflicts do arise, dignity cultures prescribe direct but non-violent actions.’”

But now, we have the victimhood culture. Quoting Campbell and Manning, Friedersdorf explains this as

“characterized by concern with status and sensitivity to slight combined with a heavy reliance on third parties. People are intolerant of insults, even if unintentional, and react by bringing them to the attention of authorities or to the public at large. Domination is the main form of deviance, and victimization a way of attracting sympathy, so rather than emphasize either their strength or inner worth, the aggrieved emphasize their oppression and social marginalization.

Victimhood cultures emerge in settings, like today’s college campuses, “that increasingly lack the intimacy and cultural homogeneity that once characterized towns and suburbs, but in which organized authority and public opinion remain as powerful sanctions,” they argue. “Under such conditions complaint to third parties has supplanted both toleration and negotiation. People increasingly demand help from others, and advertise their oppression as evidence that they deserve respect and assistance. Thus we might call this moral culture a culture of victimhood … the moral status of the victim, at its nadir in honor cultures, has risen to new heights.”

According to the paper, the following social conditions allow the victimhood culture to get a foothold:

Self-help in the form of dueling or fighting is not an option.

“The availability of social superiors—especially hierarchical superiors such as legal or private administrators—is conducive to reliance on third parties.”

Campaigns aimed at winning over the support of third parties are likeliest to occur in atomized environments, like college campuses, where one cannot rely on members of a family, tribe or clan to automatically take one’s side in a dispute.

Since third-parties are likeliest to intervene in disputes that they regard as relatively serious, and disputes where one group is perceived as dominating another are considered serious by virtue of their aggregate relevance to millions of people, victimhood culture is likeliest to arise in settings where there is some diversity and inequality, but whose members are almost equal, since “a morality that privileges equality and condemns oppression is most likely to arise precisely in settings that already have relatively high degrees of equality.”

In simple terms the members of the victimhood culture operate within a relatively privileged and sheltered environment and try to solve conflicts in a childish fashion by tattling to authority figures so that they may gloat over their perceived aggressors.

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Psychiatrist: Not Everything is a Mental Disease


Michael Liccione | February 17, 2016

Some readers might recognize the name “Theodore Dalrymple.” It’s the pen name of the iconoclastic British psychiatrist Anthony Daniels, who in semi-retirement keeps on writing books. His twenty-third is Admirable Evasions: How Psychology Undermines Morality (2015).

An interview he gave soon after the book’s publication sums up his thesis, which is rather unconventional even if, given the course of his long career, not all that surprising. It’s a thesis thoughtful Americans would do well to ponder.

Here’s how the piece introduces it:

“Q: You lead with Shakespeare’s King Lear saying mental illness is ‘the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune…we (blame) the sun, the moon and the stars.’

A: Four hundred years later, it’s still true, but we blame psychology instead of astrology. We call it progress. Literature is far more illuminating into the human condition than psychology could ever hope to be.”

As presented, of course, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But most of us know people who blame everything and everybody but themselves for their faults—when they recognize those faults at all. Thus:

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Victimhood Culture in America: Beyond Honor and Dignity


Americans increasingly want and expect adult supervision

Ronald Bailey|Sep. 11, 2015 1:30 pm

In “Microaggression and Moral Cultures,” the UCLA* California State University, Los Angeles sociologist Bradley Campbell and the West Virginia University sociologist Jason Manning identify a “culture of victimhood” that they distinguish from the “honor cultures” and “dignity cultures” of the past. In a victimhood culture, they write, “individuals and groups display high sensitivity to slight, have a tendency to handle conflicts through complaints to third parties, and seek to cultivate an image of being victims who deserve assistance.”

Insightfully complementing their analysis is a new study by the St. Lawrence University economist Steven Horwitz, titled “Cooperation Over Coercion: The Importance of Unsupervised Childhood Play for Democracy and Liberalism.” Horwitz makes the case that overprotective childrearing is undermining the “ability to engage in group problem solving and settle disputes without the intervention of outsiders,” a capacity he calls “a key part of the liberal order.” In other words, both studies find that Americans increasingly want and expect adult supervision.

Campbell and Manning begin by probing the rise of the “microaggression” phenomenon on university campuses. As defined by the Columbia diversity training specialist Derald Wing Sue, microaggressions are “brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial, gender, and sexual orientation, and religious slights and insults to the target person or group.” Microaggressions include asking an Asian American where he or she was born, complimenting a Latino on speaking English well, or asserting that “America is the land of opportunity.” In general, microaggressions are seen as instances of a larger narrative of structural inequalities. “Conduct is offensive because it perpetuates or increases the domination of some persons and groups by others,” Campbell and Manning observe.

The authors argue that people seek the moral status of victim in situations where social stratification is low, cultural diversity is high, and authorities are referees. These three conditions pervade the modern American university, so it not surprising that the microaggression victimhood phenomenon is most intense in academia. Google Trends finds that headlines featuring microaggression started a steep rise in 2012.