Victimhood: Some Thoughts on Roanoke

On August 26, 2015, a deranged black male who claimed he had been the victim of racism in the media industry, shot and killed two young, very talented and promising journalists in Roanoke, VA, at point blank range. Incidently, they were white. By legal definition, it was a hate crime. An act of violence motivated by racism or homophobia is a hate crime. But victimhood in this country evokes two completely polarized responses–by the political and media establishment, the criminal justice system, and the respective communities.

I haven’t heard the term “hate crime” mentioned once in all the many hours of news coverage since the event. Al Sharpton is nowhere to be seen nor heard. Neither is Black Lives Matter, for that matter. Victimhood only matters when the victim is a member of one of the officially sanctioned victim classes. If not, you’re just an unfortunate statistic.

The affected communities also reacted very differently. Unlike the black communities in Baltimore or Ferguson, the white communities in Roanoke aren’t aflame. No curfews are in place. No mothers are screaming with unbridled vulgarity at their miscreant offspring, grabbing their hoodies, and shaming them into submission on national television. Cars aren’t being torched; neither are CVSs. Convenience stores remain open and doing a brisk business. With the exception of the grieving at the victims’ employer, WDBJ-7, all businesses are going about their business. The mayor of Roanoke hasn’t asserted that the rioters need their “space” for anger, or that wanton property destruction is just another legitimate form of expression protected by the First Amendment.

On June 17, 2015, a crazed white supremacist shot and killed nine black parishioners during a prayer service at the Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. Unlike Baltimore and Ferguson, the Charleston black community reacted with the utmost calm and restraint, holding prayer and candlelight vigils instead of engaging in an orgy of stupidity. The media, however, reacted predictably, calling it a hate crime faster than Bill Clinton can take his pants off. Geraldo Riviera, that paragon of objective journalism, is estimated to have called it a hate crime 68 times during one 90-second news segment.

Politicians reacted differently. There are no police to demonize in this case, so they had to find another scapegoat—guns–as though guns can fire themselves accurately at a target of their own choosing. Politicians that prey upon minorities from the Dear Leader on down have cynically seized upon the issue to push for more gun control. Gun control may or may not be effective in curtailing such gratuitous acts of violence, but the politicians loudly promoting gun control in the wake of these incidents are most assuredly not doing so for humanitarian reasons. They most certainly are using these tragic incidents for self-promotion, to satisfy their insatiable urge to assert more control over lawful citizens, to push their consistently tried-and-failed agenda, and to rationalize their exaggerated sense of self-importance and usefulness. Politicians that don’t routinely practice the politics of racial division, however, who have chosen to remain silent on the issue, are guilty of cowardice and hypocrisy. God forbid they should risk alienating the Black Panthers or the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Rightly or wrongly, our reactions to events are clearly shaped by perspective. But no matter the number of perspectives, there is but one objective reality, one truth. One thing is for certain, all of us—blacks, whites, rioters, police—are victims of the victim mentality. When some of us are taught from Day One in our homes, schools, and churches that someone else bears the blame, and should bear the cost and consequences of our moral failures and poor choices, all of us are victims.

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