07.11.2016 07:03 AM

When the victim victimizes

I was out of the town for Toronto’s big Pride parade, but I heard all about it.  The local Black Lives Matter folks decided to blockade the parade, stopping it for half an hour, and then issued a ransom note to the Pride organizers.

Wow, I thought, observing the drama play out on Twitter.  One group of victims victimizes another group of victims, and justifies it by claiming a higher victim status.  Ironies abound.

Anyway, that melodrama went on – and on and on – in the pages of the Toronto Star for days. The rest of us moved on.

Then, all of a sudden, Louisiana/Minnesota/Dallas hit.  They happened almost as a triptych.  At the start of last week, the rhetoric of Black Lives Matter seemed almost understated, and police were on the defensive everywhere.  Then, Dallas exploded, and roles were vividly reversed: Black Lives Matter were being called a terrorist group by people who know better, and fresh-faced schoolchildren were delivering handmade cards to weeping police officers.

And so, by this morning, as someone observed on Twitter, black people continued to be preoccupied by the disproportionate number of blacks dying for no reason at the hands of police.  White people, meanwhile, were preoccupied by Pokemon.

Anyway. I thought this bit from a front page New York Times story captured it well:

…a Queens detective quietly seethed.

“This is insanity,” said the detective, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to do so publicly. “It’s just freaking horrendous.”

Reactions to Thursday’s deadly ambush in Dallas swept through roll-call rooms and squad cars in police departments across the country. Contempt for the shooter was universal. But behind it followed other, varying observations about what it means to be a police officer in 2016, with the attending fears and frustrations, and amid a seemingly growing gulf between the police and the policed.

“We have broken into tribes,” Charlie Beck, chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, told a class of cadets who graduated on Friday. “All of a sudden it becomes more important who your parents are, what the color of your skin is, than whether you are American.”

“This is not about black lives, or brown lives or blue lives,” he added. “This is about America.”

It’s not just about “tribes.” And it’s not just about America, actually.  This is a problem everywhere, for everyone.

The way events play out these days – super-caffeinated by social media and 24/7 news channels – the victim can quickly become the victimizer.  The hunter can become the hunted, as they say.

There’s no moral on offer here, either.  My only point is this: you could always go from hero to zero, in the bad/good old days.  Nowadays, however, that transformation happens in the blink of an eye, whipsawing back and forth again and again.  Rinse and repeat.  Your transformation from victim to villain is instantaneous, now.

Politicians, corporate and union leaders, movie starlets and media mavens always tend to forget this, however.  They always seem to think the adoration lasts forever.

It doesn’t.  Today’s selfie is tomorrow’s mug shot: victims everywhere, take note.



  1. MississaugaPeter says:

    Not to diminish the other comments, but you are right about Pokemon. Pokeman is back. Nintendo stock went up 25% last week.

  2. It’s kind of like something is trying to give us all perspective, to recognize our shared humanity again, and all those other weird old hippie ideas that nowadays get you labelled as “privileged” for believing in.

    Activists love tribes, because they need enemies. Without them, they have no reason for being. They claim moral high-ground but by reinforcing difference and destructiveness, simply force us lower and lower, become more and more entrenched, more and more convinced of our specialnesses, our othernesses and the inability of anyone else to understand who we are or what we experience. Fools.

    Trevor Noah rightly said it is possible to be both pro-Cop and pro-Black, but it’s doubtful that everyone laughing and nodding really, really believes it.

  3. nobonusfornonis says:

    Mr K. You live in Toronto. How did you feel after the G20? I feel the media framed it exactly as they were told to. I felt humiliated as it’s my home town and it radicalized me. If one weekend could do that imagine how being black must feel when they go through the same humiliation every day.

    I’m white
    the wind is at my back
    what the fuck do I know
    about being black

    • Peter says:

      If your doggerel reflects truth, why would white sympathy and support be of any more value than stereotyped criticsm?

      I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn’t really mean to suggest the G20 experience gave anyone a taste of black life in American cities. Officer Bubbles may have radicalized your garden variety white Canadian protestor, but I suspect they would trade for him in a flash.

  4. Johnny says:

    One problem with today’s leftism is that it involves a lot of white people making idiotic statements like this:

    “White people, meanwhile, were preoccupied by Pokemon.”

    No, “white people” were not doing any such thing.

    I’m sure that some “white people” were interested in Pokemon. And probably some non-“white people” too (it’s a Japanese concept, obviously).

    At the same time, a ton of “white people” – like Warren Kinsella and me, for instance – were paying attention to the Dallas, et al, stories. Which is why the latter stories were on the cover of The New York Times and The Globe and Mail – not Pokemon. In fact, a good many “white people” were totally unaware of the Pokemon story (most likely a majority of “white people”, in fact).

    Unfortunately, for leftist social media, there is no greater form of cache today than to be a white person insulting “white people”. Treating “white people” as some vast homogeneous mass, responsible for all evils and everything just not-so-great in the world, is a major trend.

    During the the Pride Parade nonsense, nothing was more ridiculous than seeing a snow-white professor of journalism adopt a photo of Frederick Douglass as his Twitter avatar, and commence to issuing high dudgeon denunciations of “white people” (and attack other journalists for commenting on BLM while being white!).

    So there’s no greater currency in today’s leftism than being a white person who hates “white people”. Not healthy or helpful.

  5. bluegreenblogger says:

    I was struck by the policeman saying that ‘once upon a time, people minded their own business, now they take out their cellphones to video it, and they BECOME PART OF THE PROBLEM. Before they used to ‘sort of comply’.’
    These are people whose personal accountability is new, and they are resisiting any change to their culture. The very fact that so many ‘body cameras’ and car cams seem to fail on request is a big red flag.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      For a few years now I’ve been continually surprised that cops don’t just assume they are always being filmed in every interaction while on duty. Their needs to be a change in mentality where they automatically assume from now on that while on duty, someone is recording them. I think getting that through their heads could lead to a change in behaviour.

      • nobonusfornonis says:

        I take your point but policing is a lizard brain activity. it’s millions of years old. do as i say not as i do is just the MO, how it works. the rational brain is way too young and we don’t have time to evolve to where we could all use common sense. i wish we could but i don’t think we’re gonna make it.

  6. Sean says:

    The Dallas shooter did not represent BLM… Just as the Orlando shooter did not represent Muslims… as David Koresh did not represent Christians… as Timothy McVeigh didn’t represent war veterans… as Donald Trump does not represent white Americans.

  7. Kelly says:

    An underlying problem is that the political system in the United States is cut off from the lower classes — of all races. The apparatus of the state, including the right to use force if necessary to maintain order — serves the people with all the money. Participating in the system by way of the usual channels doesn’t work. Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter wrote a brilliant book called The Rebel All: Why the Culture Can’t be Jammed about the way the market just asorbs the counter culture and neuters it. They suggest the Left should spend more time winning control of the levers if government like they did coming out of the Great Depression to build the modern welfare state which allowed more people to participate in and grow the economy. However in the States the system is too far gone, too rigged, too violent. All that’s left is to take to the streets and burn the MOFO down. Change will come now. The alternative is a race war. In Canada Idle no More has had an impact but there is more to do. Does Black Lives Matter Toronto cooperate and coordinate with Idle No More or are they align mainly with their American counterparts?

  8. Francis says:

    So, as much as I’d hate to break the spell of self-centred infatuation that Torontonians typically have, this Pride/BLM issue is very much a Toronto thing and not even remotely playing out across Canada.

    To be curt, nobody gives a shit about what happened in Toronto last week.

    The issue of Black Lives Matter in Toronto has no resonance in cities like Winnipeg, Calgary or Vancouver because whatever situation is apparently playing out in Toronto, isn’t playing out anywhere else in Canada. The notion that there are American-like conflicts between Black men and law enforcement occurring in Canada is just not borne out by statistics. From what I can tell, asides from anecdotal evidence, its not exactly an epidemic in Toronto either –with contrast to the US.

    To be frank, as a non-Torontonian, I find the news coverage of the issues a bit nauseating. Its another example of a Toronto themed topic being projected out onto the Canadian landscape. Its not entirely indicative of broader Canadian issues vis-a-vis race relations; which is to say, its not relevant outside of Toronto.

    I’m a little surprised at the amount of coverage the media is also affording these protestors. Just for comparison purposes, a FN group protested the Ontario government regarding a drinking water issue just a few weeks ago and it lead to arrests. In total, that story got maybe a day or two’s coverage.

  9. Devon says:

    “One of the worries that cops have is that no cop can control what another cop does, but all cops will be judged by what the other cop does,”

    Swapping “cop” for “black person (people)” in that statement illustrates perfectly what I find so perplexing about the black-lives vs. all-lives debate.
    Everyone is getting tangled up in slogans.

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