The Privilege of White Victimhood

We’re in the grips of a peak white-pity party moment. And it has the potential to incite a riot.

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Being an actual victim of anything sucks. This is a thing we are supposed to learn as we grow up. We’re supposed to grow out of the phase where we get jealous of the attention or the extra toys or balloons a sibling gets when they are sick or hurt and move on to being able to help out in those situations.

Not everyone does.

This past Saturday, Brian Hornaday, chief of the Herington Police Department in Kansas, posted an image of a McDonald’s coffee cup with the words “Fucking Pig” written in black marker on the receipt. The cup, he said, was given to a 23-year-old uniformed police officer and veteran.

Outrage, naturally, ensued. On Twitter, the Fox News crowd called it a hate crime, blamed Obama, blamed Black people for complaining about police brutality, and spoke in horror over the fact that whoever did this was probably one of those ungrateful minimum-wage workers who think they deserve to earn enough money to actually live on.

By Monday, it turned out that the whole thing was a “fabrication”—the officer had made it up. Conveniently, Monday was also the day that the manager of the McDonald’s said he would be able to get the security tape to the police.

This cop, whose name is not being released to the public, has since resigned. He claims reportedly that it was a “joke.” But he went to the trouble of writing this on his own cup, showing it to his chief, and letting his chief put it on Facebook, for pretty much nothing. He could have gotten someone fired, and likely would have if there had not been any security tape. Someone who was depending on that minimum-wage job for survival. And for what?

Given the nature of several recent cop vs. coffee-cup scandals, it is likely that this cop knew exactly what would happen. He knew that Fox and Friends would be outraged; he knew that this would be used as an example of how anger over police brutality has gone “too far” (never mind that writing a swear word on a cup is a far cry from murdering an unarmed Black man); he knew it would engender sympathy for cops and anger at this hypothetical McDonald’s employee, along with all people who might have a reason to not be too fond of cops. He knew exactly the kind of person people would picture when they thought of a McDonald’s employee who would write “fucking pig” on a coffee-cup receipt.

The same day that this police chief came forward to announce that the cop had resigned for inventing the “fucking pig” story, the hashtag #itsokaytobewhite began to trend on Twitter.

The hashtag/meme was started several years earlier by a bunch of racist creeps on 4chan with the intent of having a radicalizing effect on white people, once they saw that “Social Justice Warriors” didn’t believe it was “okay” for them to be white. There were countless ensuing tweets about how “everyone else” is allowed to be “proud” of their skin color, but not white people, and how is that fair? It’s like an extra-stupid version of: Why is there no “White History Month?

The purpose of this is to create a narrative of victimhood for white people, but also to muddle up the reasons for why “pride” for historical victims of systemic oppression is very different than the “pride” of those who have benefited from that oppression. It is to incite people to fret over things like “white genocide” and resent other ethnic groups. 

We see these kinds of things all the time: with Christians who, despite being in the majority, claim year after year that they are being oppressed by those who fail to wish them a Merry Christmas. With men who claim they are oppressed by feminism. With Harvey Weinstein whining about how no one ever talks about the good things he did for women. With comedians complaining that they are being oppressed by the very people they have said terrible things about. With practically everything that ever comes out of Tucker Carlson’s mouth. With billionaires, both of the real and temporarily embarrassed variety, pretending to worry that soon enough, poor people will have more influence on politics than they do.

I could go on.

What these things have in common is that they are examples of people wanting not only the power that comes with being privileged but also what they see as the power held by those who are victimized by that privilege. They want what they see as the “benefits” of oppression without ever actually having to experience it.

They are children who see someone sick in bed with strep throat and, instead of offering sympathy, demand to know why they can’t have ice cream for dinner, too. They’re people who want punching up to be seen as just as much of a sin as punching down.

Perhaps ironically, the people who do this the most are often the first to accuse actual victims of “playing the victim card” in order to get free passes on things. Find someone yelling about other people having a “victim mentality” and wait five minutes. Soon enough, they will be telling you all about the ways they are being oppressed by those victims.

This isn’t just people being stupid, or not understanding what actual oppression is. It’s a very obvious attempt to manipulate people. At best, it’s an attempt to create a false equivalency between the oppressor and the oppressed in order to get away with bad behavior. At worst, it’s the first step in the process of radicalization.

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