Victims Today, Oppressors Tomorrow

The Victim Narrative Will Eventually Victimize in Return

Everyone can be a victim today. The oppressed, disaffected, disenfranchised throngs march ubiquitous, decrying every manner of “social injustice,” and the demand for systematic restitution. In the U.S. as of late, we witness riots, demonstrations, acts of public disobedience, all in the name of justice, equity, or a restoration of rights lost or never had, of reparations, equal access, equal opportunity, and equal outcomes.

Countless times, history has chronicled that the victims of today become the oppressors of tomorrow. Likely only a few reading this may remember Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic in a speech commemorating 600 years that had passed since the Battle of Kosovo (1389) stating to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands, “After six centuries, we are again engaged in battles and quarrels. They are not armed battles, but this cannot be excluded yet.”[1] Knowing his rhetoric would foster a collective sense of victimization, hardship, and entitlement, Milosevic leveraged it to spark Serbian nationalism among his supporters, and justify campaigns of brutal “ethnic cleansing” against Bosnia and Croatia in the years that followed. The “victims” turned into murderers and plunderers.

Employing very incendiary rhetoric, in 1992 journalist and senior politician to Rwanda’s then-ruling Hutu party, Leon Mugesera, incited a crowd of supporters in Kabaya, labeling the minority Tutsis as cockroaches. Having originally descended from Ethiopia, he entreated that they return. Prior to this, the Hutus had lived with the Tutsi’s for generations, but in order to justify attacks of Hutus on their Tutsi neighbors, and to generate a sense of perceived threat, Mugesera warned, “Know that the person whose throat you do not cut now will be the one who will cut yours.”[2] In addition to Mugesera’s rhetoric, the shorter Hutus were encouraged to murder their taller Tutsi neighbors by a corrupt media charging them to “cut down the tall trees.” The genocide that followed resulted in the massacre of 800,000 to 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

While these two examples represent warring factions between ethnic groups, history also recounts instances where one class is murderously turned against another, wherein the poorer class – convinced by reasons of political expediency that it has been “victimized” by the richer – takes on the politically-sanctioned role of the oppressor. Few people have learned of the dekulakization campaigns in the U.S.S.R. during the period of 1929 to 1932. The Kulaks for the most part were middle-class, hard-working productive farmers, deemed the “rich peasantry” by Bolsheviks interested in generating a class war between them and the “poor peasants.” Communist rhetoric effectively turned countryman against one another, as the poor, in service to the collective, were charged with destroying the hated Kulaks, stealing their property, their inventory, and their lives.

Enter summer 2020. The “marginalized” classes of today are abundant, each embracing a doctrine of collective victimization to rally their masses and provide talking points only. After all, crowds and mobs do not necessarily seek scholarship when it comes to succumbing to the yoke of groupthink. A cursory reading of the Black Lives Matter website reveals an organization that has – like Milosevic and Mugesera – rebranded not only history past, but presents a perceived threat that has little basis in reality, characterizing themselves as an organization that “began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism.” We further read that they seek to oust anti-Black politicians, catalyze other movements, and shift culture with an eye towards combatting anti-Blackness.

What is most disconcerting about the movement is their very broad definition of what racism is. While most sensible Americans recognize that to discriminate against another individual based on their skin color is an appropriate definition for racism, the term used by the movement is ill-defined and vacillating. In the past few weeks we have seen an American president labeled a racist along with all of his voters and supporters. This is a dangerous label to throw around, as at least half of the country has been demonized by virtue of merely supporting the president most likely on account of his economic, foreign, and domestic policies.

Closer to home, when I recently asked a relative to provide evidence that America is currently entrenched in systemic racism, the relative called me a racist! Yet another relative joined in and said the thought of me being a schoolteacher “terrified” her and she was quite unsettled that we shared the same bloodline. Now this is incendiary rhetoric. It also shows that the definition of racism is expansive and goes beyond that of discriminating against another because of race.

If we want to know who tomorrow’s oppressors may be, we might be wise to look at those wearing the meritorious badge of victimhood today. If there is one thing that 2020 should teach us, anything is possible, and the battle you fight on social media today may be one fought in arenas of greater significance tomorrow. It is likely that many non-Serbs who might’ve seen Milosevic’s incendiary speech from the crowd, read it in the paper, or heard it on the radio could’ve imagined they would be fighting for their lives very shortly thereafter. How many Kulaks, in sharing the bounty of their crops with their fellow countrymen one year, could have foreseen they would be hiding out from the very same later? Be mindful of who “unfriends” you.

[1] Malcom, N. (1996). Bosnia. A Short History, Nueva York.

[2] Peterson, J. B., & Djikic, M. (2003). You Can Neither Remember Nor Forget What You Do Not Understand. Religion and Public Life, 33, 85-118.

graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fresno, with a BS in molecular biology and a minor in cognitive psychology. As an undergraduate, she conducted research in immunology, microbiology, behavioral and cognitive psychology, scanning tunneling microscopy and genetics - having published research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, and projects in scanning tunneling microscopy. Having recently completed an M.Ed. from University of Cincinnati and a Certificate in Apologetics with the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, Emily is currently an instructional designer/content developer for Moody Bible Institute and teaches organic chemistry and physics. As a former Darwinian evolutionist, Emily now regards the intelligent design arguments more credible than those proffered by Darwinists for explaining the origin of life.

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