One fine day religion died. Morality shortly followed it. Any values based on some antique prophets or philosophers went into the rubbish bin. The table was cleared and its blankness was the new world, the terra nova, the blank slate of a revolution in human ideas. Unfortunately there was nothing to actually put there. It had all been thrown away.
What followed was a condensation. A Reader’s Digest edition of all the moral codes that had come before it. The unnecessary sections were trimmed. The scissors were wielded mercilessly destroying everything… except for one thing.
All that remained was victimology.
Thousands of years of human thought, of civilizations grappling with the inner darkness and the outer light, of the angels and demons of human nature, of thoughts on government, duty and freedom were reduced to one endless reform movement forever battling to save the oppressed from an oppressor.
Often the oppressor didn’t exist. Sometimes the oppressor was an intangible notion, like whiteness of skin or the economic system that requires people to work for a living or the idea that nations should have borders. Every system must invariably delve within itself, building up abstractions and arming white knights of ghost and shadows to do battle with ideas of ideas. Victimology was no different.
Victimology was elegantly simple. Its core premise was that we should all be nice to each other. Despite the reams of academese it wreathed itself in, it was absurdly free of content and context. It did not matter, at least initially, who you were or what you believed.
The old arguments over which moral system was right were irrelevant. Religion even more so. All that mattered was being a good person.
And a good person was someone who fought oppression, instead of actively oppressing or passively oppressing by entering a conversation without coming to terms with the conceptions of his own whiteness, his own maleness, his own heteroness or otherwise failing to check his own privilege at the doorway to the restaurant of Victimology where baked guilt was always on the menu.
The old religions had been silly things relying on signs and wonders. The old philosophies with their ponderings and speculations, the old white men talking old white men talk to each other, even sillier. They had all failed to check their privilege and free the slaves, set up abortion clinics and teach gay teenagers that it gets better.
They had, in short, produced nothing worthwhile except for the incessantly privilege-checking civilization they now lived in, its university in debt up to their ivory towered necks to build new campus buildings to house new administrative offices for the office of Transgender Equality, and its governments which were in even more debt to finance the universities and the billions in privileges checked, unchecked and signed away on the dotted line for wealth redistribution matrix.
Victimology was better. Victimology was simple. You were either a good person or a bad person. And it was easy to tell which.
Good people had Equal stickers on their cars. Bad people though equal was a sugar substitute instead of support for gay marriage.
Good people wished they had the time to volunteer at a homeless shelter. Bad people wished that the homeless would stop urinating on their steps.
Good people were broken up about all the suffering in the world. Bad people kept plopping out kids without even knowing about Nestle’s depredations in Latin America or the history of the United Fruit Company or the plight of the uninsured.
The best people of all however were victims. Some were survivors. Many were underprivileged. Others were overlooked. Most were unhappy and only privilege, the privilege that they fancied everyone else had and they didn’t, could make them more vocally unhappy.
The Western frontier had closed. The frontier of space had never opened. But Victimology had opened a great new frontier and all sorts of folks were coming through its gaping door.
There were men who wanted to marry men and men who wanted to be women. There were men who wanted bakeries to sell them wedding cakes for their marriages to other men and called in the authorities when the bakeries wouldn’t comply. Like the Rwandan orphans and the homeless and the migrant workers and the survivors of Disease X and the Somali family living in Maine on food stamps… they too were victims.
Victimology had become theology. It didn’t even need to be elaborate like Liberation Theology. It was a stark conflict between the victims and their oppressors. And if the victims sometimes looked like the oppressors and the oppressors like the victims, that was blasphemy and heresy. No one was burned at the stake for it, not counting the occasional tire necklaces in the homeland of one of the new religion’s greatest triumphs, but they lost their jobs, their reputations and social standing.
In an ironic twist, the very ideology that had torn down any connections between church and state, that had hunted down every one of Cecil B DeMille’s Ten Commandments tablets, that threw conniption fits if somewhere students put their heads down for a moment of silence or a penny of government money was diverted from the vast educational bureaucracies of the public school system to a religious institution, had been instrumental in creating the new State Church of Victimology.
The creed of Victimology had become supreme. Like all state churches, it overturned Freedom of Religion. Catholic and Jewish institutions were required to cover abortions to protect the victim, who was not, contrary to some expectations, the baby being killed. Wedding photographers were forced to participate in gay weddings. There was only one religion now and its prophet was an angry lawyer.
There was to be no morality outside Victimology. There was to be no religion outside Victimology. For many liberal churches and synagogues, the transition was easy. They had already abandoned any of their old creeds for the smooth featureless creed of Victimology whose services were social work, whose prayers were protest chants, whose rites took place at the voting booth and whose holy day was April 15.
(There is also a lesser holiday around the middle of January and Labor Day is a time to slap on a fresh “Unions Gave Us the 5-Day Work Week” bumper stickers on the Prius in your school faculty parking lot.)
The generations raised under the shade of Victimology, like the children born into most religions, saw nothing wrong with any of this. Unlike most religions, Victimology was absurdly simple. It had its contradictions, but it had also mastered a glibness of rhetoric and a simplicity of slogan so that few would ever even notice.
It was the religion of niceness. And wasn’t that what all the religions had really been about? What could possibly be wrong with being nice to others… so long as they believed the same things you did or were victims of oppression which gave them license to believe they had the right to cut your head off while shouting Allah Akbar or Down With the White Devil or Tell the Truth About Area 51.
Outwardly Victimology eliminated the context and the context was who got to decide who the oppressed and the oppressors were. Victimologists insisted that it was self-apparent. They wrote voluminous revisionist histories and their media outlets released a terrifying flood of news stories that were little more than Victimological propaganda so that the narrative was everywhere.
And that helped keep Little Victimologists from wondering why the polar bears hadn’t all died yet or stormed the California coast or why nothing seemed to ever fix race relations or why people who killed kids were the worst monsters ever… unless they were their mothers.
Religion is in no small part narrative. It is the story of heroes and villains who convey values through their struggles.
Victimology had countless heroes and villains and their narratives always conveyed values. Everything was politicized, which is to say it became religious. Not since the Puritans, had Americans been subject to this much religion in daily life, to this many witch hunts and so many witchfinders expert at identifying the inner struggle between good and evil in every aspect of daily life from breakfast cereal (Do you know what transporting oat flakes from Peru does to the planet?) to clothing (Do you know the company that makes that is against gay marriage) to just about anything (did you check your privilege before entering this trans-safe space?).
America had once again become a religious nation. There was no God involved. But that was no longer needed. God, it turned out, was the collective liberal conscience of the well-to-do fighting to right wrongs while armed with prophetic morality and Vibram sneakers purchased through the local sporting goods co-op.
And the church… was everywhere. There was no need to go to a special building at a special time. The worship services were going on everywhere all the time. They were taking place at work during your sensitivity training, they were there when you turned on the TV to see what was on and they followed you through your conversations, in the newspapers and books you read, on the radio, on the internet, the regulations you followed, your paycheck deduction tithes for wealth redistribution and all the many hypocrisies, fallacies and absurdities whose service you paid lip to.
It was all very convenient, very modern and very American in its cheerful ubiquity. It had at its core that corporate faith in streamlining, in eliminating useless features, whether of toasters or religions, to give consumers only exactly what they wanted at a price that they would think was cheap.
Victimology was what the same industrial processes that had simplified and broken down everything else had done to religion. It had taken the simplest, most practical and most understandable aspect of them, mixed in heavy doses of the Marxism that was popular around the time that modernism became an obsession, and distilled the ultimate modern religion.
First there were the poor. And then there were the identity groups. And finally there was the whole planet groaning under the weight of the capitalism that had liberated the poor.
Modernity had replaced God and it was forced to find a replacement for the devil as well. It had dispensed with the Angel of Death and so it made its own angel, not in the racks of nuclear bombs, but in the spirits of its ideas. Environmentalism was modernity’s angel of death, its devil, its final destroyer. The bullet it fired into its own brain to undo itself once and for all.
The Church of Victimology did to modern civilization what environmentalism did to industry. It was the bullet fired recklessly into its own brain.
Victimology was an endless industrial-grade reform movement that never stopped. It was a guillotine with a billion knives that needed victims to keep going. The more victims it found, the bigger it got and the bigger it got, the more victims it needed. And for each victim, it needed oppressors to expose and denounce, to drag before the bar of justice and public opinion, to demean and to destroy.
With its whole moral structure invested in victims, it couldn’t be allowed to run out of them. It had to create them, to plant them on protected plantations, ply them with welfare checks and loose morals, or invent them out of whole cloth, drag them out of social movements and the frantic insanity of lunatic perverts. The more insane the whole thing became, the faster it had to spin the narrative to keep anyone from realizing that, and the more demented its Victimologist followers became.
Victimology ate cities and then states and then entire countries. But what it was really eating was civilization. It was the mad superego of a mad civilization seeking a moral high in its own eventual martyrdom on the altar of the endlessly deferred suicidal principles that would destroy it.
The Church of Victimology had been born by destroying all the ideas that came before. It was only fitting that it would not stop destroying until it had also destroyed everything that had come after it.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century. He blogs at Sultan Knish