Violent Victimhood: When Leftists Do Violence or Intimidate, It’s Always Someone Else’s Fault
Sometimes news flashes repeat the same details so often that you can’t help but notice the pattern. And the unmistakable pattern in recent days is that leftists will immediately claim to be the victims, even when they are, in fact, the party intimidating or committing violence upon another.
Exhibit A is Riley Gaines, a decorated female swimmer who has spoken out against the usurpation of women’s sports by men who claim to be women. She was scheduled by the campus chapter of Turning Point USA to speak on April 6 at San Francisco State University (SFSU) — cue ominous music — where an angry mob overflowed the 75-seat classroom. Police ended the event early due to safety concerns and attempted unsuccessfully to extricate Gaines. On the way out, she was assaulted — a man in a dress punched her twice — surrounded, and barricaded inside a classroom, while the mob laughed about holding her for ransom. Gaines was unable to leave the scene until police declared the mob to be an unlawful assembly and announced they would arrest students who remained.
Incredibly, SFSU vice president for Student Affairs Jamillah Moore responded to the episode by thanking the students, praising their “tremendous bravery to stand in a challenging space” and the way they “participated peacefully in Thursday evening’s event.” School officials have yet to hold a single student accountable. “Imagine if the roles were reversed and a group of white, conservatives ambushed someone within the LGBTQ community, physically assaulted them, and held them for ransom for 3 hrs,” tweeted Gaines. “There would be arrests and repercussions for the perpetrators and administration who allowed this.”
SFSU athletic director Stephanie Shrieve-Hawkins chimed in to suggest that Gaines’ whole argument — that biological females should not be forced to compete against biological males — was rooted in “gender bias.” Said Hawkins, “Transgender male to female is the one that people are focusing most on because it’s a gender bias. … What does that say about women, that women aren’t strong?”
But SFSU student president Karina Zamora went even further than the school’s administration. She claimed that “students protesting were coerced and given unwarranted warning cards threatening arrest if they violated the TPM [Time, Place, and Manner] policy.” In her accounting, “the ‘enforcement’ of TPM was weaponized to silence and threaten protestors and the presence of police was both excessive and uncalled for.” She had the audacity to condemn “the hateful rhetoric and promotion of violence spread by TPUSA and Riley Gaines” and demanded the university host a forum “to hear how damaging these tactics have been to our student body.” The violent claimed to be the victims.
Exhibit B is the March 27 Nashville shooting at Covenant School, where a woman who identified as transgender shot her way into a Christian school and killed three children and three adults. The perpetrator was shot dead by police as she fired upon responding officers.
NBC News attempted to frame people who identify as transgender as the real victims. “Fear pervades Tennessee’s trans community amid focus on Nashville shooter’s gender identity,” ran the headline. Later that week, left-wing protestors in the Nashville capitol held up seven fingers during a moment of silence to commemorate the victims of the shooting — seven to represent the six murdered victims and the trans-identifying woman who perpetrated the attack.
Exhibit C is the “Trans Day of Vengeance.” Organizations such as the Trans Radical Activist Network planned this event to coincide with the “Trans Day of Visibility,” over the weekend of April 1. Evidently, after receiving all the visibility they could demand and more, radical activists decided that “we need more than visibility” and determined that they now sought “vengeance.”
Then, on the Monday before the event, one radical, trans-identifying activist carried out what she perceived as vengeance by committing a mass shooting at a Christian school in Nashville, where she used to attend (see Exhibit B). This made for some awkward press, so some of the savvier groups decided to cancel their “Day of Vengeance” activities.
But they needed a cover, so they claimed that the cancelation was due to a “credible threat to life and safety,” as a “direct result of the flood of raw hatred directed toward the trans community after the Tennessee shooting.” Color me unconvinced. So far as anyone knows, the only people threatening violence were the radical activists.
Other groups went forward with their Day of Vengeance rallies, which — to no one’s surprise — resulted in radical, left-wing activists assaulting conservatives in Vancouver and New York, and even random commuters in Los Angeles.
“We know one thing for sure,” said Catholic League President Bill Donohue. “It is not white, heterosexual Christian men who are roaming the streets looking for trans people to beat up — it is trans people who are committing the lion’s share of the violence.”
The incidents don’t have to be dramatic. A University of Illinois Chicago professor who identifies as transgender backed out on Tuesday of a scheduled debate next Tuesday with Daily Wire writer Michael Knowles. The reason he gave is that Knowles was only “interested in stirring up hatred and violence,” even though the professor had previously defended his participation in a debate against someone he described as a “fascist” and “anti-Jesus Catholic.” Smaller stakes, same pattern. Again, the leftist justified his own abusive behavior by accusing his opponent of hatred and oppression.
Nor are the incidents necessarily tied to the transgender issue (although an overwhelming proportion are). After a former research partner exposed his fraudulent data, resulting in his termination, former Florida State University (FSU) professor Dr. Eric Stewart complained that the colleague “essentially lynched me and my academic character.” He added, “For some reason, data thugs are after me. It seems very personal,” and, “All of the blame is being directed at me.” FSU has retracted six of Stewart’s studies from 2006-2015, including five that dealt with race. In at least one study, the data were manipulated to fraudulently show that Americans held a racial bias against black and Hispanic populations.
Nearly endless exhibits could be added to reinforce this pattern. A member of a group the Left favors does something wrong, and then either that person or other members of that group claim to be victims. Usually, they claim that societal injustices drove them to wrongdoing, but sometimes they even claim they are victimized by the very act of their wrongdoing.
The pattern’s credibility relies on popular but unfounded Marxist theories of critical theory and intersectionality. Critical theory classifies society as “oppressor” and “oppressed” based on identity groups, not individual behavior, connoting systemic and collective guilt and worthiness. So, classic Marxism (communism) divided society into economic classes of capital and labor and charged capitalists with oppressing laborers. Critical race theory divides society based on skin color and accuses those with lighter skin of oppressing those with darker skin. Other critical theories divide society by sex, religion, immigration status, you name it — even gender identity. Intersectionality is the notion that multiple critical theories can be stacked on top of each, compounding “oppressor” and “oppressed” designations across multiple categories.
Applying these principles, which sharply contradict American and biblical notions of individual accountability and equal justice before the law, not just a trend among a radical fringe or a handful of random people with no influence. No less an institution than the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) routinely practices it when enforcing laws such as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, which equally protects abortion centers and churches.
Yet under the Biden administration, the enforcement could not be more different. The FBI will go the extra mile to defend abortion centers, a near-sacred pillar of the Sexual Revolution, by aggressively prosecuting pro-life protestors, even when they are acquitted on the evidence. Meanwhile, American churches have sustained unprecedented and increasing violence, with an astounding 69 incidents in the first quarter of 2023, according to data compiled by Family Research Council, including 53 incidents of vandalism, 10 suspicious fires, three gun-related incidents, and three bomb threats. The FBI has responded identifying “‘radical-traditionalist Catholic[s]’ as potential ‘racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists’” and cultivating undercover informants. When absolutely forced to prosecute, they have recommended no jail time for a church vandal who happens to identify as transgender.
Seeking to pass off the blame for our actions to avoid the consequences is a response as old as human sin. In the garden, Adam blamed both his wife and God for his eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:12). At Mount Sinai, Aaron blamed both the people and the fire for his casting the golden calf (Exodus 32:22-24). In the Promised Land, Saul blamed the Philistines, his army, and Samuel for his unlawfully offering a sacrifice (1 Samuel 13:11).
But the Bible teaches it is neither right nor wise to pass our guilt off on others. “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). By denying our sin, we say that we are right and God is wrong — which is itself wrong. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). By denying our sin, we might fool other people, but we can never fool God, and he will bring us to account. In fact, by denying our sin, we deceive ourselves. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
Identity-based victimhood is one of the most elaborate methods of self-deception ever devised. It offers a comprehensive worldview dedicated to convincing people that they are not, after all, responsible for their actions. It soothes them with the notion that their acts of violent anger are really the fault of whoever made them angry in the first place. It replaces any concept of individual responsibility with an idea of collective guilt, where the guilt of the “other” group is so great that anything a person does is justifiable by comparison. If this is true, then the quickest, surest, and most logical way to escape the consequences for your actions is to identify yourself as a member of some oppressed minority as quickly as possible.
Even the most thorough and brazen self-deception will not avail before the all-powerful God’s throne of final judgment. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven,” said Jesus. Even to those confident of their own righteousness, he will say, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23, see also Matthew 25:41-46). Notice how Scripture uses individual, singular language to describe our final accounting, “Each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12), and “He will render to each one according to his works” (Romans 2:6).
No victimhood category that makes us more righteous or wronged or worthy than others can justify us before God on the Day of Judgment. The only group identity that matters is whether we are found in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:9), adopted as God’s child (Romans 8:15), and washed clean in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14).
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.