“There is one thing of which I am certain. This man felt he was a victim. Nothing allows people to do evil quite as much as a victim mentality. That needs to be remembered.” -- Dennis Prager on September 16, 2013 referring to Aaron Alexis, the gunman in the Washington Navy Yard shootings
I’ve posted memos to various people in the past who opened their yaps to spew forth petty, imbecilic nonsense. I let the Penn Jillette gif do my talking for me; the people in those memos are buffoons trolling for fools to watch their programs and/or support their lifestyles: They are no more worthy of serious consideration than any other camera-whore celebrity currently favored by the same crowd.
Dennis Prager is a different case.
Prager purports to be interested in matters of morality and ethics, and presents himself in a hushed, reasoned, measured tone. Not given to hyperbole, he rarely drops sensational sound bytes.
Which makes what he does say all the more loathsome and despicable.
I know little-bordering-virtually-nothing on Dennis Prager the man, what he is like in person, how he treats his family and friends and co-workers in private.
But I do know that what he says and publishes under his name are among the most damaging utterances delivered against the commonweal.
His quote is as concise an example as one could hope for of what makes his public utterances so arrogant, distasteful, and harmful.
“There is one thing of which I am certain. This man felt he was a victim. Nothing allows people to do evil quite as much as a victim mentality. That needs to be remembered.”
In another context, this would be hilarious: A person who brags openly of his Jewish heritage criticizing others for having a “victim mentality”. Even before the horrors of the holocaust, Jewish people learned to live with rampant anti-semitism (the “polite” modern word to replace the older, more accurate “Jew hatred”). Often employing self-mocking forms of humor, the Jewish people learned the hard way that trust had to be earned, that they would always be a convenient scapegoat, and that if the whole world didn’t have it in for them, certainly a large segment of it did.
“Never again” is not the motto of crybabies, Mr. Prager, nor is it the motto of evil-doers (albeit there doubtlessly are evil-doers who cloak themselves in this righteousness). It is evidence of a victim mentality insofar as the people who say “never again” recognize the reality of their history and the steps they must take to prevent further victimization.
Now, if Mr. Prager had said something along these lines -- “This man felt he had been hurt and was entitled to hurt others in return” -- then he would have been standing on far more solid moral/ethical grounds.
St. Paul almost got it right, but it’s not the love of money that is the root of all evil but rather the love of self (loving money is merely a means of showering more love on one’s self in the form of various trinkets and pleasures). People who think of themselves first and foremost have a much easier time inflicting harm on those whom they think have slighted them. Unable to project themselves into the POV of another, unable to even partially see how another person may be perceiving a situation, unable to share sympathy and empathy for a person suffering something they themselves would not want to suffer, the lovers of self are at best utterly indifferent to others and a worse view them as playthings to be abused at their whim.
There’s a reason Dennis Prager couldn’t say that: He has sold out his birthright in humanity for a mess of porridge, in this case the limited degree of fame and fortune he gets shilling for the rich and powerful and privileged.
“Victim mentality” is privilege-speak. It is the expression of a person who enjoys an unearned relatively easier ride than the rest of humanity justifying his acceptance of that privilege by denigrating those who have been short-changed.
It’s the same kind of blame-the-victim mentality found in slut-shaming, when a rape victim is accused of bringing the attack upon themselves when they have the temerity to speak up.
Accusing a person or group of “victim mentality” is an attempt to negate and nullify the experience of the person/s in question, to dismiss their justifiable concerns out of hand, to maintain the status quo in favor of the privileged.
It is invariably ironic, with the person who accuses others of “victim mentality” displaying the very sort of thing they are criticizing in others! Poor, poor pitiful me! My unearned privilege is under assault from people who recognize they have been victimized!
Had Mr. Prager attacked the gunman for being selfish and self-centered he would have also had to criticize the very mindset behind his patrons: A belief that because of their positions of privilege, power, and wealth they are better and more important than the rest of humanity and as such the rest of humanity should suffer if it means the privileged get to enjoy more.
It is a very Ayn Randian POV. Let us not forget that Ayn Rand gushed like a little school girl over a psychopath of extraordinary cruelty and depravity just because he thought of himself as more special and thus more important than those he victimized.
Rand’s two most famous fiction creations were also psychopaths who blew up buildings and civilizations just because their feelings were hurt.
As of this posting we know very little about the guman or his motives. So far there is nothing to indicate a rational motive.* There is evidence to indicate the man had a history of violent behavior, but whether these killings represent a genuine psychotic break from reality, or whether they are an act of evil masquerading in the gunman’s mind as justifiable is unknown (and perhaps unknowable) at this point.
One thing for certain is this: Whatever the motivation, it is not an example of “victim mentality” being used to justify evil.
That phantasm exists only in the minds of the privileged who fear losing their unearned perks.
*Political assassination and terrorism, while ethically and morally wrong, have at least some sort of rational risk/cost/benefit reasoning behind them: Killing this person will eliminate an enemy, terrorizing those people will get them to submit to our will. That assassins and terrorists are often wrong in their assessments goes without saying: Look at Japan’s belief that America would negotiate to avoid a long and bloody war in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor; the reasoning behind the attack was sound, the presumptions about it were not.