Blame the Victim
- `Blame the victim' acceptable when perpetuated by Islamics
By Dennis Prager
Feb. 28, 2006 / 30 Shevat, 5766
There's a certain consistent pattern regarding the worldwide Left's
assessment of culpability for Muslim terror. It is the fault of the
The most recent example is the blaming of Denmark, or at least the
Danish newspaper, for publishing cartoons of Muhammad. From Kofi
Annan to The New York Times and the other American newspapers that
declared respect for religious symbols a new journalistic virtue
liberal and leftist opinion always condemns violent Muslim
demonstrations, but always with a "but." The "but" is that in the
final analysis, it was the Danish and other European papers' faults
for insulting the Muslim prophet.
This is only the latest example of finding the victims of Islamic
violence responsible for that violence.
For a decade or more, it has been a given on the Left that Israel is
to blame for terror committed against Israelis by Palestinian
Muslims (Palestinian Christians don't engage in suicide terror).
What else are the Palestinians supposed to do? If they had Apache
helicopters, the argument goes, they would use them. But they don't,
so they use the poor man's nuclear weapon suicide terror.
The same argument is given to explain 9-11. Three thousand innocent
Americans were incinerated by Islamic terrorists because America has
been meddling in the Middle East so long. This was bound to happen.
And, anyway, don't we support Israel?
And when Muslim terrorists blew up Madrid trains, killing 191 people
and injuring 1,500 others, the Left in Spain and elsewhere blamed
Spanish foreign policy. After all, the Spanish government had sent
troops into Iraq.
When largely Muslim rioters burned and looted for a month in France,
who was blamed? France, of course France doesn't know how to
assimilate immigrants, and, as the BBC reported on Nov. 5,
2005, "[Interior Minister Nicolas] Sarkozy's much-quoted description
of urban vandals as 'rabble' a few days before the riots began is
said by many to have already created tension." Calling
rabble "rabble" causes them to act like rabble.
If you wish to test the thesis that the Left blames those blown up
for being blown up by Muslim terrorists, have your son or daughter
at college ask some liberal arts professors who is to blame for 9-11
or Muslim suicide bombers in Israel, etc.
In fact, one way to describe the moral divide between conservatives
and liberals is whom they blame for acts of evil committed against
innocent people, especially when committed by non-whites and non-
Westerners. Conservatives blame the perpetrators, and liberals blame
either the victims' group or the circumstances.
We Americans are used to this. For decades, liberals have blamed
violent crime in America on racism and poverty, i.e., on American
society far more than on the murderers, rapists, arsonists and
muggers themselves. Conservatives blame the criminals.
During the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, black mobs murdered
innocent Korean shopkeepers and burned sections of the city. The
liberal response in America was virtually universal: We must
understand the anger of these people at American racism. The daily
special section on the riots in the major local newspaper, the Los
Angeles Times, was titled, "Understanding the Rage."
Though Thomas Friedman, the New York Times foreign affairs
correspondent, has been among the few prominent liberals to support
the Iraq War, he regularly blames Islamic terror on unemployment in
the Arab world.
Since examples of liberals refusing to blame criminals and
terrorists for their behavior are legion, let's try to figure out
why this moral inversion is so common.
Here are three hypotheses:
One is that liberals tend to blame outside forces for evil. This
emanates from the secular humanistic view of people as basically
good and therefore human evil must come not from the bad choices
and bad values of the evildoer, but from the unfortunate
socioeconomic and other circumstances of the person's life.
The second explanation is that as you go further left on the
political spectrum, it becomes increasingly difficult to blame
the "weak" for any atrocities they commit. The Left does not divide
the world between good and evil nearly as much as it does between
rich and poor, and between strong and weak. Israel is stronger and
richer, so Palestinian terror is excused. White America is stronger
and richer than black America, so black violence is excused. The
West is stronger and richer than the Muslim world, so Muslim
violence is explained accordingly.
And third, liberals tend to be afraid of the truly evil. That's why
the liberal newspapers of America refused to publish the Danish
cartoons, probably the most newsworthy cartoons ever drawn, but have
never had any hesitance about showing cartoons and photos that mock
Jewish and Christian symbols. Christians and Jews don't kill editors.
We don't know who will be the next target of Islamic or other
murderers from poor or non-Western or non-white groups. All we can
know is that liberal and leftist thought will find reasons to hold
the targeted group largely responsible.