False martyrs expose the cult of victimhood

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False martyrs expose the cult of victimhood
Sunday 30 April 2000

Even if it had been in Texas, where a pair of rednecks two years ago dragged a black man to his death behind their pickup truck, what happened last month at the University of Iowa would still have been unsettling.

All of a sudden, at a campus that has prided itself on promoting "diversity" and racial equality, black students began receiving e-mails filled with vicious Klan-style taunts.

One morning, a young black man opened his dormitory door to find a splattered lump of what looked like pulverised brains on his doorstep. They were actually noodles dyed red, but at the time the student was too appalled by the accompanying note to notice. Like its predecessors, the letter suggested that black people - the term used was a good deal more offensive - had no business extracting a living from white folks' mouths.

The campus was outraged, as was all of right-minded Iowa. To the state's immense credit, what followed was a textbook example of the way a decent community tackles the spectre of intolerance. The cops assembled a task force, the university's president led a candlelit vigil against "white hate" and the state's papers agonised over what one termed the "ugly, racist eruption". Rewards were offered and "diversity consultants" summoned.

"I don't recall ever seeing so much fear and disgust," a black student said last week. "The feeling around here was `us and them'. Whites and blacks lead pretty separate lives on campus most of the time anyway. But after this started happening, every white man became my enemy. Every time I had to talk to a white guy, a part of me would be asking, `Is this guy smiling at me, is he the one?"'

So it was with some relief last week that the college community learned the culprit had finally been caught.

Relief - and embarrassment, because the author of the racist notes was a second-year dental student, Tarsha Claiborne, who is herself black. Suddenly, the earlier pronouncement by college president Mary Sue Coleman that "white men are the root of all evil" began to seem perhaps a little premature. Not to mention irresponsible, since the remark also displayed an astonishing ignorance of the many bogus hate crimes that have been exposed in colleges and communities across America over the past year or so.

Why this should have come about is a matter of muted debate. The idea of minorities finding it necessary to make victims of themselves doesn't mesh with the prevailing view that there are more than enough pale-skinned, patriarchal predators to go around.

But what if there aren't? What if America, a country with an astonishing history of re-making itself, really has for cast off all but a vestigial remnant of its racist past? Where do the diversity consultants go then?

At Guildford College in North Carolina, a white student claimed to have been slapped around by masked white men, who scrawled "nigger lover" across her chest. It was a lie, as was a lesbian student's complaint to police at St Cloud University in Minnesota that she had been punched by two men shouting anti-gay slurs.

Sometimes, the incidents are merely ludicrous. At New York's State University, a planned picnic to celebrate the new semester had to be renamed not once but twice. First, a black students' group complained that "Spring Picnic" was a contraction of "pick a nigger to lynch". The next attempt, "Spring Outing", appeased the blacks but infuriated gays. The third choice, "Spring Celebration", appears to have so far pleased everybody.

That is just at colleges. In Arizona last week, a high school teacher shot himself in the foot and blamed it on a student marauder. When police found a pistol in a classroom cupboard, the teacher confessed the self-inflicted wounds were a ruse to "raise awareness of the danger of guns in schools".

On Long Island, a spate of swastika daubings on synagogues came to end when a Jewish teenager was caught in the act.

Why now? Why, when the Klan has filed for bankruptcy and the actual number of hate crimes is falling? Maverick feminist Camille Paglia thinks it is a case of build-it-and-they-will-come.

"When you erect a shrine to victimhood, as the politically correct culture of our times has done," she said, "you need to have sacrificial victims on the altar or the candles soon go out."

But what if it has the opposite result? The black student at the University of Iowa who complained of viewing every white face with suspicion also admitted that Tarsha Claiborne's arrest has "left things pretty tense around here. There's a lot of anger on all sides".

It was, as various members of the college's black caucus told reporters, one way to raise awareness. Does anyone remember what happened to the boy - whoops, better not use that racially loaded word - who cried wolf?


The candles are flickering-n-a-blowing in the wind.

Regards from a draughty place...

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), April 30, 2000


I have noticed that those who expect discrimination find it, even when it does not exist.

This is a lesson of time I have had to learn.

It was unheard of for a female to take electronics in my high school-I had to fight to get in the class. I have been a first in almost every carrier orientated situation I have been in.

In the beginning the negative actions against my being female in a male arena were blatant and open. Over time they became subtle and hidden. Having been brought up with nothing but brothers and working in a "mans" world I saw no reason for it at all. But then I had to be confident in my ability so the words and actions of others would have no effect on my belief in my ability. I was not always aware of what was done "against" me, I guess because in the beginning I didn't understand why anyone would have a problem with my doing what I did simply because I am female. There were times in the early years that made me become overly sensitive to it, some serious and some down right funny.

I was always having to "prove myself" to just about every person I worked with.

As time went on and society changed, I was left behind in my view and got to the point where I felt I had to prove myself constantly. I felt it was expected of me. Over time as it became acceptable (as opposed to unusual) for a woman to do what I did, it became unnecessary to prove I was capable.

Unfortunatly I had become so used to expecting a problem that I would actually cause it by my actions and by being oversensitive to anything that appeared to be a problem.

Fortunatly some of my co-workers brought it to my attention out of their concern for me and I stood back and realized that things had changed.

I believe in the Black culture that where two or three generations ago people were treated so badly that the change in society as a whole is not "seen" and the newer generations are brought up to expect discrimination where it no longer exists. At least it does not exist to the extreme and degree that it did from one generation to the next.

There are children today who hear about the civil rights movement and the way their grandparents were treated before the 1960's.

For the generations of Black people who lived with overwhelming discrimination, and the next who lived through the civil rights movement, the next who lived through forced bussing and the stigma of "quota's" (and the resentment it caused), it difficult for them to "see" the positive changes in mindsets as a whole in this country. Don't get me wrong, there is still an overwhelming negative attitude against Blacks in this country, generally centered in certain area's, but it in no way resembles what existed 30-50 years ago. A Black woman in a grocery store is still assumed by many to be a welfare mother until she opens her wallet and you can see her microsoft badge. The thing is though, there are more people today who see a Black woman in a grocery store and don't think anything, one way or another. Those who assume the "worse" automatically have a problem, it exists within themselves, the rest of us do not feel the need to degrade or assume the worse about others to build up insecure ego's and feelings of poor self worth. I believe it is necessary to be honest of what was done to Black people in this country, it is also important for Black children and youth to be taught about how the people of this country have done a good job of self analysis and put great effort towards correcting the behaviors and attitudes of the past.

It is time for those Black (and other) people who use prejudice as an excuse for failing, to realize that it is their responsibility to take advantage of what is offered to all, education and the freedom to earn money by the efforts of their minds and hands. Although it is inexcusable for the amount of bigotry that still exists against so many different cultures and groups in this Country, it is important to rise above those who express it.

It is important all parents to instill in children today the advantage of learning from a young age.

As for myself, I see the huge difference in society today as opposed to the past when I had so many roadblocks thrown up against me as I learned and worked in a heretofore "man's" field. Yet I am still too often taken by surprise by those who still carry the the "old" assumptions due to my gender.

One of the main points I am trying to get across is the need to let go of the negitive things in the past and go forward.

I have two daughters and I did not bring them up to think that people would not accept them doing things that were historically male. I have brought them up knowing they are capable of doing anything they set their minds to do. My 18 year old did not think her boyfriend would think her incapable, she just changed the tire on the car herself and and thought he was rather "old fasioned" when he showed surprise. I do not teach them that others expect them to fail-for whatever reason, I teach them they are whole human beings and are limited by nothing.

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), April 30, 2000.


I appreciate the thought you put into your post, and to a degree you are correct, I must, however, disagree with what seems to be your point.

YEs, much has been done to reverse discrimination and rascism, but still not enough-we cannot rest on our laurels. As a women, I am sure you know that women are STILL not paid as much as men for doing the same work. You are intelligent enough to know that any top bank on wall street, given a choice between a white male and an asian male with equal qualifications, will overwhelmingly chose the white male; I know. Someone I know recruits for a major bank on the street.

It is easy to give back gains that are made without constant vigilance. Most colleges still put a HEAVY weight on standardized tests which are culturally biased. Until we as a society address the REAL issues of equality, and not just use flawed methodologies like affirmative action, we will have racial problems.

This is why I speak against rascism wherever I see it-this forum and elsewhere. We all have a tendency toward self-fulfilling prophecy, and we all, occassionally, will allow ourselves to draw conclusions based on limited data. Hey we are human.

But I cannot be complacent because we have made strides in creating equality. African-Americans(I made the correction Ra-Caps on) are still being killed in NYC and searched in NYC-are still being profiled on the NJ turnpike etc-We have a LONG way to go. Let's not forget that.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), April 30, 2000.

Nowegian-Americans have been stereotyped as rude bumpkins with small noses that eat boring food and wear boring clothes. Garrison Keillor mocks us unmercifully--statue of the unknown Norwegian, Norwegian bacelor farmers, etc. I am outraged! What kind of name is Keillor anyhow--sounds shifty to me. I say this to Keillor--death by lutefisk!

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), April 30, 2000.

Let's not forget the white girl who had her blouse ripped off and then video ed by black males at the black "spring break" in Mississippi this year.

Or the Jewish guy that used to have a tv talk forum. Can't remember his name,(there's a reason I'm sure) but he went in a public bathroom and wrote swastikas all over his face, and claimed he was assaulted.

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), April 30, 2000.

Let us not forget the guy who pissed all over himself and in the course of his embarrasment claimed that the perpetrator claimed he belonged to a hate group calling themselves"The Disser Pissers" who denounced males, with what they described as "good aim".

The supposed attack was discredited by a couple"just hanging out" in a nearby stall.

Late breaking news has it that the fraudulent claim was made by a male by the name of Uri.

-- capnfun (capnfun1@excite.com), April 30, 2000.


Maybe you missunderstood the point I was trying to get across, maybe not. I'm known for not being able to write down what m mind is trying to say :o) (Otherwise more people would have believed me about embeddeds being ok).

I know beyound a doubt that there is still a huge amount of bigitry, in ALL areas, not just against Black people.

I think that Black people should not raise their children to see in black and white. Unfortunatly some Black people raise their children to believe that they will be discriminated against and cause the children to grow up resenting non Blacks without learning whether the non Black is bigited or not. In other words, seeing others as being bigoted until proven otherwise. This makes it difficult for the child as they grow up expecting offences and see them in situations even when they do not exist. I am not saying they do not exist, but where they do not exist and the child thinks it is there, a tention is built and the child looses out on a situation they should be comfortable with.

They should be aware of the possibility, especially when it is done in a sneakier way these days as opposed to the open blatent way it was done in the past, but they should not be taught to put a brick wall in front of themselves that make it difficult to break through.

Young Children are beautiful in the way they accept each other, color and nationality making no more difference than the color socks the other wears.

25 years ago I was talking to a very biggoted man in Texas. Coming from Seattle where color was not much of an issue (at least not like the Southern States were back then), I was shocked by the way he believed. I told him that it would probably take 50 years for people like him to die out to equality to all people despite their differences.

I believe that to teach Black children to dislike non Black people because of the "possibility" of bigotry is just as bad as teaching non Black children bigotry against Black people.

I know there are many fine lines involved and outside influences such as advertizements on electronic and print media and music have effects that White people as a rule do not recognise that do have an effect on all non-White children. Just like they do with me and the portrayal of "housewifes" or the women in a non-traditional job who look like "Barbie Dolls"

I guess I am saying that they should be taught to be open to the good that exists and not totally focused on the bad. It should be realised that race (etc) is no longer a facter in every situation anymore. Fortunatly today when someone expresses their bigotry they are usually looked down upon and considered a lowlife. At least by normal people.

The give and take must be made by all sides now if we are to continue progressing out of the ways of the past.

-- Cherri (sams@brigadoon.com), April 30, 2000.


I must have missed something. Your last post was excellant. I certainly believe that Ethnic parents have the responsibility to not pollute their children's minds with discrimination. It is hard, however, to break the cycle of poverty. Children want to know why they are poor, after they reach a certain age. What do we tell them? Dad's an addict who could not afford treatment, or is in jail for a minor drug offense, not receiving counseling for his addiction? Mom could not afford obstetric care, so do we tell that deformed child that is just the way it is?

We live in a country where basic health care is still a struggle for many people, especially people of color. While I agree with you that these parent's should not teach that the white man is bad.

But still I ask, what do we say to them?? How do we tell them the truth about rascism and discrimination? How do we tell them the truth about the lynchings? What do we tell our children when a series of young black men get killed in New York City, when they were totally unarmed, by predominantly white cops? What do we tell our children when their father is late getting home for supper because he has been stopped by a New Jersey state trooper simply because he was black?

This is not an easy matter, and it takes a great deal of diplomacy to teach children who are victims of a white man's world to not judge all white people like that. Our children are perceptive-We cannot hide the truth from them.

-- FutureShock (gray@matter.think), April 30, 2000.

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