Cult of Victimhood: Not Just for Terrorists

ALEXANDER MELEAGROU-HITCHENS 

Every time an Islamist mass murderer self detonates in a crowd of civilians, be it in Pakistan, Tel Aviv or London, there will almost unfailingly be a scramble by their apologists and sympathisers to explain how the real victims are not those who were murdered, but rather the killers themselves.  Now, we are also seeing other types of murderous thugs being given this treatment.

In Britain, we have Baroness Jenny Tonge, who draws a moral equivalence between suicide bombers and fighter pilots or, perhaps more famously, Cherie Blair who bemoaned the plight of suicide bombers as poor young men merely resorting to a final, and very understandable, act of desperation.  More recently, after the attempted attack in Times Square by Faisal Shahzad, Ezra Klein suggested that the jihadist’s actions were a result of his experience with the American foreclosure crisis (admittedly, he has tried, somewhat unconvincingly, to make amends for this).

This deep-seated Western desire to excuse or even lionise murderers as anti-establishment heroes is alas not reserved only for terrorists.  Sky News reports that since the death of Raoul Moat, over 3,000 people have joined a Facebook group in his honour.  Many of the comments express admiration for his attacks on the police, and suggest that he was a victim of everything from an unpleasant girlfriend (who he shot) to the economic crisis.  Meanwhile, his three innocent victims are ignored by these people – much in the same way as the narcissistic Moat did – as bit part players in the far more important tale of a thuggish homicide-hero. 

Anyone who would like to at least try and get to grips with this phenomenon would do well to read Pascal Bruckner’s The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism.

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