The Real Victimhood

Our recent post, Douthat and Reaction, featured a link to a video clip of a young woman disrupting a speaking event at the University of Massachusetts. She is seen flailing her arms and shouting obscenities — in short, having a child’s temper-tantrum.

The video clip has gone “viral”, and its star has been the object of widespread ridicule. It’s easy to understand why — and frankly, hard not to join in — but it’s important for those of us who are older and wiser to look at this a bit more thoughtfully. Despite her being of an age that would, in an earlier era, have made her a “young adult”, our prevailing culture of pathological infantilization has ensured that the person having the tantrum really is still just a child.

Not a day goes by that we don’t see a story about “microaggression”, “triggering”, and the need for “safe spaces”. (See here, for example.) But when we jeer and mock these “snowflakes”, we must be mindful of the context: we have ascribed to them agency as adults, usually without considering that their upbringing and indoctrination has done everything to prevent such agency from coming into existence. At every turn they have been swaddled and coddled, buffered and shielded from the consequential realities of the world.

What’s more, the universal acid of Leftist postmodernism has dissolved all of the natural and organic categories and structures that have traditionally been available for children and adolescents to adopt, and orient themselves to, as they seek to create their adult personalities. In all previous eras, these templates provided a necessary scaffolding for a person still under construction; now they are all broken down and discarded. The result is that these wretched children must now create themselves almost entirely ex nihilo, which must be a terribly — perhaps I should say inhumanly — difficult thing for a person to do. One of the greatest challenges of adolescence is learning self-confidence; it is hard enough when one has a reliable, time-tested model upon which to build oneself. How much harder it must be when you are expected to create it all from nothing! Is it any wonder, then, that they are inordinately vulnerable to challenges and criticism? What have they got to stand on, to fall back on? The answer is: nothing — because the Left has systematically destroyed it all, in its quest to create an artificial order consisting only of a cloud of dependent human atoms and the State.

In this sense, then, the puling students that shock us every day with their weakness really are victims: of a monstrous macro-aggression, lasting more than half a century now, against everything that might have made it possible for them to be fully realized adults.


  1. Whitewall says

    Young people such as this young woman are products of a successful liberal culture that mal educates them while in their family’s care, then on to college where they are further misguided by liberal professors and administrators. As a result, these kids…cannon fodder for the Left…are easily groomed by the Left and then used up. After the under developed urchins leave college, they often have to return home to the care of their family. No practice at being responsible adults. Legions of these young people can easily be coaxed into activist causes as long as there is funding to sustain them from outside parties. Thus, they join OFA, Occupy Wall Street or whatever needs occupying, BDS movement etc.

    Normal adults brand these students as losers, they Left brands them as successful useful idiots.

    Posted May 11, 2016 at 8:14 am | Permalink
  2. John says

    I agree that this girl and her ilk deserve our compassion yet…

    The cult of the victim is what got us into this mess. There is always a victim angle, for virtually anyone.

    I’m in a favor of ditching the sacred victim aesthetic wholesale. People need examples of triumph over adversity and excellence through discipline. The victim identity needs to be dismantled and replaced with something spiritually enervating.

    Posted May 11, 2016 at 9:19 am | Permalink
  3. Whitewall says

    John, excellent point! Quite spot on. Do you know the all out collision and culture war that would come between leftism and emerging Reaction? It would be delicious.

    Posted May 11, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink
  4. Court Merrigan says

    Hi Malcolm, very long time since I’ve posted here, hope you’re well.

    I imagine someone else has suggested this to you, but have you read the very trenchant The Last Psychiatrist (sadly anonymous) on The Greatest Generation of Narcissist In The History of the World? He (or she) explains the existence of this video very, very well. Worth a look if you haven’t looked into the archives yet. –>

    Posted May 20, 2016 at 7:24 pm | Permalink
  5. Court Merrigan says

    I should add, the points TLP makes are quite similar to the ones you’ve made here, which is why I thought of them.

    Posted May 20, 2016 at 7:28 pm | Permalink
  6. Malcolm says

    Thanks, Court. Good to see you here again!

    Posted May 25, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

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