May 18, 2010

Sacred victimhood

TNC has a great post on this ridiculous dustup over the Miss USA contest, which, if you didn't know, was won by a Muslim! Oh God, why have you forsaken us?

The runner-up, btw, is from Oklahoma, and many think she lost to the Muslim! because of her answer to a question about Arizona immigration, where she said she was a "fan" of "state's rights" but also opposed to racial profiling. The first part of her answer has made her an instant celebrity of the Carrie Prejean category for being brave enough to "speak her mind." That value, btw, is only valued when it is from people you agree with.

Anyway, Miss Oklahoma actually wanted to be on both sides of the answer and by the way who gives a rat's ass what she says about immigration reform? And why in the holy hell are we talking about a damn beauty pageant?

My only interest is that the far right has lost its collective marbles (those remaining, mind you) over the fact that this gorgeous young Muslim! woman beat out another gorgeous young white woman in a contest that no one gives a flying fuck about. Daniel Pipes, of Bush administration and "Obama is too a Muslim" fame is convinced that the Muslim! woman won because of some conspiracy. And a conspiracy that began with other non-whites.

As TNC notes:
The point is that the narrative of white supremacy holds victimhood sacred. It paints whites as the truly put-upon class and asserts that non-white success--black, brown, red, yellow and now "Muslim" -- is mostly achieved through vile and despicable means. When reality challenges that view, white supremacy simply moves the goal-post. So in the 19th and early 20th century, blacks were thought of as physically inferior to whites. When blacks succeeded in athletics the logic became that blacks "animistic" nature gave them an advantage.

Reminds me of a point that Tom Engelhardt makes in The End of Victory Culture, that throughout our history, our sense of exceptionalism has forced white American to explain losses to the "other" as only possible through some kind of cheating. Custer, the Alamo, and the defenders of Pearl Harbor only lost because the non-whites didn't play by the "civilized" rules of war.

That sense of victimhood is, as he notes, central to the concept of white supremacy, and has, unfortunately, completely embedded itself in the right wing. The fact that they see conspiracy in a damn beauty pageant pretty much proves the point that they have left sanity far behind.


Smitty said...

I see this a lot in Christian communications as well; this notion that somehow, the dominant religion in the U.S. is a put-upon, victimized minority. Like somehow, they are continually under attack and at threat of being eliminated by these very same "dark" (if you know what I mean!) forces.

A connection? Perhaps, but only inasmuch as that is a method that a numeric majority uses to maintain its superiority: victimhood!

steves said...

I think that to some degree, "Christian communications" don't enjoy the same level of support as they did in the past. This is certainly a far cry from being actual victims and is no where near the level seen in places like China, but I can see why there is some reaction even if it is out of proportion.

Monk-in-Training said...

In the White, Christian, South there has always been a hanging fear of those who have been on the bottom of the system rising up and 'taking over' (which you can read as getting their justice).

Used to be a fear of slave revolt, then when the Federal Government forced a few concessions, the White, Christian culture put on the robe of Martyrdom and decried any encroachment on their privileges as a sign they are 'loosing everything'.

When you hear them saying they 'want their country back' they are saying they want their position of control and privilege back.

I am 52, and as a young child I remember walking down a sidewalk and a person of color stepped off into the street to let us walk by, that was expected at the time. 'They' were not allowed in theaters, restrooms, etc. 'They' had to be controlled, you see.

Loss of this overwhelming control (which in no way ever WAS Christian) has made people feel vulnerable and prosecuted.

As a person who works with the marginalized, I can tell you that the teeth whitened, W stickered, SUV driving Christians of the suburbs are completely disconnected with reality on just who is being persecuted.

In my prayers, I ask that someday barriers which divide us will crumble, suspicions between us will disappear, and hatreds cease; that then our divisions being healed, we will live in justice and peace. Lord have mercy.