Unintended Consequences of a Victim Society

by Jeff Swanson


Current day America is no longer a nation of self reliance but a nation of victims. No matter your background, there is a smorgasbord of ills from which to choose. If you seek pity or martyrdom, there’s a disorder for you. Real or imagined.

We’ve done little more than revert to our inner child in hopes of no longer being responsible for our very own existence. What we haven’t much done; consider the societal consequences of victimhood.

Debating the second amendment is little more than debating a disease symptom when the subject is gun violence. A gun does not beget violence. Ever. To say that guns don’t kill people, people kill people is far too simplistic.

Guns are a very effective tool in implementing violence. It is reasonable to consider the gun as part of the problem. While reasonable, it is misguided.

Without a finger on the trigger, a gun is as useful as a paperweight holding down a stack of protest leaflets. Without the intent to use a gun for violence, a gun is simply a possession of personal choice.

In the shadow of the Newtown shooting, there is no shortage of opinions, experts and discussion of en mass violence. It’s an important subject. As tragic as Newtown was, it’s only a fraction of violence in the United States.

Grant Duwe, a Minnesota Department of Corrections criminologist wrote, “…while mass shootings rose between the 1960s and the 1990s, they actually dropped in the 2000s. And mass killings actually reached their peak in 1929, according to his data. He estimates that there were 32 in the 1980s, 42 in the 1990s and 26 in the first decade of the century…Chances of being killed in a mass shooting, he says, are probably no greater than being struck by lightning.” While mass shootings are tragic, and they truly are, occurrences are statistically terribly rare.

The point is not to dismiss Newtown but to broaden the discussion to violence in society. Anyone that lives in a big city has become familiar with the desensitizing phenomenon regarding the lack of shock to news of another big city murder. And is particularly acute when the crime victim is an inner city minority. This is a condemning statement of our society. A very condemning statement.

Setting the baseline, per capita, murders are generally decreasing as a percentage of the population from the mid-90’s. With a high in 1993 of 9.3% (24,000+ murders), the actual number and rate of murders has dropped to 14,612 with a rate of 4.7%. This is a comparable rate to the early 1960’s.

This is a good thing.

The decrease in homicides occurred amongst all subgroups. As a per capita statistic, African American males are killing themselves by far more often than any other ethnic and age group. The Bureau of Justice states that the murder rate of black males as over 25 times greater than white males in the 18 to 24 age bracket. As of 2005, this equates to 7.9 per 100,000 citizens for whites versus 202 murders for young black men. That is a massive difference.

Pop culture would like to suggest that such violence is due to violent images in hip hop culture, movie or game violence. Logically this could not be the cause. While such culturally injected violence would probably not help, the vast difference in ethnic murder rates suggest that a ‘violence culture’ is largely not to blame. There would not be such a considerable gap between ethnicities.

According to a 2010 Columbia University study (PDF) argues, “…that this extraordinary concentration of homicides in the black community cannot be fully understood without recognizing that murder is a crime for which there is a powerful preemptive motive (emphasis mine): people sometimes kill simply to avoid being killed. This is the case in war, and is also the case in some urban war zones. Ordinary people in ordinary circumstances have little or nothing to gain from killing other people, and high murder rates can generally be sustained only if some people kill for self-protection.”

The study further states that, “Blacks have been considerably more likely than whites to be killed by murderers in the US for as long as good records have been available.”


There has been much written on this subject and accordingly, there is a strong correlation between income level, age and parental status. That is to say; middle aged, middle income married couples are not nearly as likely to commit murder.

Further stated by Columbia, “individuals with low incomes or poor employment prospects have less to lose from incarceration, and to the extent that these characteristics differ by race, so will the cost (punishment) distributions.”

In very simple terms, if you’re poor and hopeless, which is unfortunately over-represented in the black community, you’re more likely to commit a murder.

The easy answer, though probably not complete, is to support in-tact homes with two parents and quality education. These suggestions are key to changing the horrid disparity between the young black murder rate and other age and ethnic groups.

These are more likely symptoms of the problem and not the problem itself.

Even increased police enforcement and increased incarceration rates contributed to the decline in the 90’s to current day. These are tools of change but at it’s core, also not representative of change itself.

I would suggest that at the core of the issue is a psyche of victimhood. If there is no hope in the household, no hope in the neighborhood, then what is there to lose in committing a crime? If society has conditioned you to be a victim, you will act accordingly.

To be honest, the African American community is not without standing on the issue of victimhood. In the United States, the sad fact is that blacks historically have been slaves or relegated to literal second class citizens. It’s not until the last few decades that this has changed. I’m not sure it’s reasonable to assume that effects from centuries of persecution would be wiped away in a mere few decades.

It’s going to take much longer than that. The key is to ensure that all communities believe that opportunity exists for them.

As the liberal message is constantly one of victimhood and the pandering to the downtrodden, it is incumbent upon conservatives and conservative leaning to impress upon these groups that the only way out of poverty’s despair is a self-reliance. Republicans have long believed that anyone, no matter their ethnicity, has an opportunity.

If you’re economically at the bottom, it is not easy to consider a path out that would not include government aid of some sort. Conversely, conservatives have preached self-reliance. Rightly so.

It is not unreasonable to think that the path upward does not include some governmental help. Republicans don’t usually disagree but clearly do not say so.

The key is to project that as part of the stepping stone process, the government may help but that the path to self-reliance is not permanently paved by welfare.

Hope, and the diminishing of victimhood must come from a path out. Republicans talk about end result. What if that end result appears unattainable. Liberals only show the fruits of victimhood and that society will help…but only so much.

As is the case today, this hopelessness of a lifelong reliance on welfare does not lead to a successful future.

Remove the sense of being a victim and instill a hope in the future. This is not a single step or an easy answer but it does start with the ‘victim’ believing that the future is just that, a future.

By creating a victim society as the liberals have, this has only exacerbated the helplessness in the impoverished black communities. Until any person believes that the upward path allows a fair shake, it’s not until then that progress can be made.

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