An angry young woman, participating in a violent street demonstration opposed to the election of Donald J. Trump, informs a TV reporter that she will not allow Trump to take away her rights. On Facebook, another angry woman writes:
“We need to roll up our sleeves and be ready to remind [Trump] that we aren’t going to sit back and surrender to his will. That we are strong and loud and our rights matter.”
What rights, exactly, are they afraid of losing? The answer came today in an opinion piece from the San Francisco Chronicle. After alleging that Trump wants to “break up our homes,” “assault us,” “wall out our families,” and “ban us from entering the country,” the author fires her thunderbolt: Trump will “subject us to unspecified forces of law and order.”
The author thinks the imposition of law and order will destroy the rights we enjoy as citizens. She believes that breaking a law you dislike is a right. Especially breaking the law by entering the country illegally. Many in the USA, particularly those of college age, have been indoctrinated to believe that the Constitution accords them the right to be “safe” from contradictory opinions and political viewpoints. If you disagree with them, you are taking away their rights. You are victimizing them.
Behind all the anti-Trump demonstrations is the desire of the protestors to be perceived as victims. Victims of the system. Victims of racism and sexism. Victims of anything at all just so long as they are entitled to be compensated for their victimhood. So what does it really mean to be a victim? A victim is a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment. The operative word is “passive,” which implies that you do not have to be responsible for your own behavior. You can trash the streets in protest, set fire to cars and property, attack innocent bystanders—with no fear of reprisal. You are not responsible. It is all Trump’s fault. He is responsible.
The victimhood argument fails because everyone is responsible for his actions. Being a victim is a choice. No one is a victim unless he chooses to be. What distinguishes humans from “animals” is the ability to choose, to make decisions. When faced with an obstacle, we are challenged with the decision either to (a) overcome the obstacle, or (b) become a victim. When you choose to overcome the obstacle, you are accepting personal responsibility for your life. If you choose to be a victim, your choice implies that someone else has control over your life. “It’s not my fault, it’s the fault of… ” I call this the victim mentality: unwillingness to take responsibility for one’s own behavior and instead blaming others for life’s problems. Victimization has become an industry in the USA.
For this reason, it is not surprising that the post-election landscape is littered with victims strutting their stuff. We have thousands of mostly young people marching down the streets and boulevards of our cities with a big chip on their collective shoulder. The person they wanted to be president lost the election. Their teachers told them they have a right to feel safe and now they feel unsafe.
Because these people are victims, they have the right to deny others their rights. They have the right to tell you who to vote for. They have the right to disregard law and order at their pleasure. They have the right to free education, free healthcare, free living subsidies. They have the right to enter the country illegally and receive unearned benefits. There is only one problem. Everything has a cost, and the cost of denying the rule of law is chaos and anarchy.
So let’s make a choice. Do we have a real country or do we have anarchy? As Bill O’Reilly has observed, the violent protestors are encouraged by a permissive, progressive society. The protestors are not victims. These people have made a choice and must be held to account. They are criminals and should be punished severely.
Ed Brodow is a negotiation expert, political commentator, and author of In Lies We Trust: How Politicians and the Media Are Deceiving the American Public.
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