Deride and Conquer (web log)

   The Politics of Victimization

[Mel Gilles, who has worked for many years as an advocate for victims of  domestic abuse, draws some parallels between her work and the reaction of many Democrats to the election.-- Mathew Gross]

Watch Dan Rather apologize for not getting his facts straight, humiliated  before the eyes of America, voluntarily undermining his credibility and  career of over thirty years. Observe Donna Brazille squirm as she is  ridiculed by Bay Buchanan, and pronounced irrelevant and nearly  non-existent. Listen as Donna and Nancy Pelosi and Senator Charles Schumer  take to the airwaves saying that they have to go back to the drawing board  and learn from their mistakes and try to be better, more likable, more  appealing, have a stronger message, speak to morality. Watch them  awkwardly quote the bible, trying to speak the new language of America.  Surf the blogs, and read the comments of dismayed, discombobulated,  confused individuals trying to figure out what they did wrong. Hear the  cacophony of voices, crying out, "Why did they beat me?"

And then ask anyone who has ever worked in a domestic violence shelter if  they have heard this before.

They will tell you, every single day.

The answer is quite simple. They beat us because they are abusers. We can  call it hate. We can call it fear. We can say it is unfair. But we are looped into the cycle of violence, and we need to start calling the  dominating side what they are: abusive. And we need to recognize that we are the victims of verbal, mental, and even, in the case of Iraq,  physical violence.

As victims we can't stop asking ourselves what we did wrong. We can't seem  to grasp that they will keep hitting us and beating us as long as we keep sticking around and asking ourselves what we are doing to deserve  the beating.

Listen to George Bush say that the will of God excuses his behavior.  Listen, as he refuses to take responsibility, or express remorse, or even  once, admit a mistake. Watch him strut, and tell us that he will only work  with those who agree with him, and that each of us is only allowed one  question (soon, it will be none at all; abusers hit hard when questioned;  the press corps can tell you that). See him surround himself with only  those who pledge oaths of allegiance. Hear him tell us that if we will  only listen and do as he says and agree with his every utterance, all will  go well for us (it won't; we will never be worthy).

And watch the Democratic Party leadership walk on eggshells, try to meet  him, please him, wash the windows better, get out that spot, distance  themselves from gays and civil rights. See them cry for the attention and  affection and approval of the President and his followers. Watch us  squirm. Watch us descend into a world of crazy-making, where logic does  not work and the other side tells us we are nuts when we rely on facts. A  world where, worst of all, we begin to believe we are crazy.

How to break free? Again, the answer is quite simple.
 First, you must admit you are a victim. Then, you must declare the state  of affairs unacceptable. Next, you must promise to protect yourself and  everyone around you that is being victimized. You don't do this by  responding to their demands, or becoming more like them, or engaging in  logical conversation, or trying to persuade them that you are right. You  also don't do this by going catatonic and resigned, by closing up your  ears and eyes and covering your head and submitting to the blows, figuring  its over faster and hurts less is you don't resist and fight back.  Instead, you walk away. You find other folks like yourself, 56 million of  them, who are hurting, broken, and beating themselves up. You tell them  what you've learned, and that you aren't going to take it anymore. You  stand tall, with 56 million people at your side and behind you, and you  look right into the eyes of the abuser and you tell him to go to hell.  Then you walk out the door, taking the kids and gays and minorities with  you, and you start a new life. The new life is hard. But it's better than  the abuse.

We have a mandate to be as radical and liberal and steadfast as we need to  be. The progressive beliefs and social justice we stand for, our core,  must not be altered. We are 56 million strong. We are building from the  bottom up. We are meeting, on the net, in church basements, at work, in  small groups, and right now, we are crying, because we are trying to break  free and we don't know how.

Any battered woman in America, any oppressed person around the globe who  has defied her oppressor will tell you this: There is nothing wrong with  you. You are in good company. You are safe. You are not alone. You are  strong. You must change only one thing: stop responding to the abuser.  Don't let him dictate the terms or frame the debate (he'll win, not  because he's right, but because force works). Sure, we can build a better grassroots campaign, cultivate and raise up better leaders, reform  the election system to make it failproof, stick to our message, learn from  the strategy of the other side. But we absolutely must dispense with the  notion that we are weak, godless, cowardly, disorganized, crazy, too  liberal, naive, amoral, "loose", irrelevant, outmoded, stupid and soon to  be extinct. We have the mandate of the world to back us, and the legacy of  oppressed people throughout history.

Even if you do everything right, they'll hit you anyway. Look at the poor  souls who voted for this nonsense. They are working for six dollars an  hour if they are working at all, their children are dying overseas and  suffering from lack of health care and a depleted environment and a shoddy  education. And they don't even know they are being hit.

 - - - - - - - - Mel Gilles at 07:31 PM on November 07, 2004

 Mathew Gross   Deride and Conquer

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 ============================= Comments on The Politics of Victimization

 Speaking as a Shrink:

Yes, political abuse has occurred. But NEVER define yourself as a victim.  Once you define yourself as a victim that becomes your identity.

Define yourself as a survivor!

The truth is that bush did not win over a majority of citizens. He only  won a majority of voters, those allowed to vote, those whose votes were counted.

We are not a minority. We, along with many Americans who stayed away from  the polls or who were not permitted to vote or who did not have their votes counted (accurately), we are the majority.

The current and future administration will try to claim a mantel, which is  not theirs to claim. And we can refuse to recognize what they claim.

Despots are very dependent on a population, which accepts the yoke of  authority. Sadly, many fundamentalists yearn for authority. And our independence enrages both the supporters and the purveyors of despotism  (abuse in your parlance).

It is our civic duty to stand up and find language, which accurately  frames what is occurring at the highest levels of government as well as what the grassroots patriots stand for. Many of us are not wallowing in  self-pity at all. We are standing up for what we believe. Here is some of our thinking:

We can tie a lot together with the concept of "civic virtue."

 A. Eldercare. It's a virtue. Anything less is a vice. (goes for medicare  or social security)

 B. Budget Deficit? Financial heresy. Civic Virtue? Financial integrity.

 C. Blessed are the Peacekeepers.  War is an abomination.

 D. Conservation is a virtue. Desecration is a vice.

 E. Voting by the "Golden Rule." Virtue counts. Vice does not.

Posted by Mary Ann at November 7, 2004 08:27 PM