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Victim Blaming Has Achieved a New Low Watermark

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Recently I was watching T.V., checking email, and doing some online research for a client while chatting with my husband. Yes, I accomplish that level of multi-tasking all the time. Suddenly, I hear: "...US Airways flight 1549, downed by a bird strike. Birds strike planes over 7,000 times per year."

I'm sorry, forgive me, but I thought it was planes that struck birds! I mean, birds are just being birds, right? Soaring the updrafts, minding their own business, until a roaring 400-ton airborne hunk of metal comes bearing down upon them, ripping them to shreds? Somebody needs to get their semantics straight. Not only are our poor feathered friends unable to fly around unpunished, but they must take responsibility for their own savage end.

Just as I was contemplating the plight of innocent birds getting murdered and then falsely accused of provoking it, I came upon this article on HuffPo about aggressive beavers being out of control in Belarus. I was desperately curious to find out what was causing them to randomly attack humans. Apparently a fisherman had just been killed by a beaver! I came to this paragraph:

The fisherman, who has not been named at the request of his family, was driving with friends toward the Shestakovskoye Lake, west of the capital, Minsk, when he spotted the beaver along the side of the road and stopped the car. As he tried to grab the animal, it bit him several times. One of the bites hit a major artery in the leg, according to Sulim.

The fisherman then bled to death. Aha! So he was not floating by in a canoe, casually fishing, when some crazed beaver leapt out of the water and went for his jugular like the killer bunny in Monty Python's The Holy Grail. He was randomly molesting a poor beaver on the side of the road that wanted nothing to do with him.

It's really come to this--that even animals must take the blame for their own abuse. We humans are truly the bottom-feeders of the food chain, not the alpha predators we like to imagine. What other conclusion can be drawn from our incessant need to cast lowly animals as villains in their own persecution by us?

When you consider that animals bring on their own assaults, it is not hard to understand this same mentality when applied to all sorts of people by other people:

Teachers. They are responsible for the lack of achievement of poverty-stricken students who go to school hungry. Let their beatings continue until morale improves.
Millennials. It is their fault they are unemployed because they are self-absorbed and lazy. The fact that the Boomers plundered the economy and the entire planet for their own gain and continue refusing to step off the stage has nothing to do with it.
The middle class. They are living beyond their means. Never mind that the 1% has amassed such a staggering portion of American wealth that everyone else is on life support.
Raped women. There are so many ways they are "asking for it" that it would require a separate blog post to list them all.
Kidnapping and human trafficking victims. Why do they not run away?
Active boys. They need more meds. Our educational system can't be expected to actually meet their needs--they need to meet the system's needs.
Tornado and hurricane victims. They somehow provoked God's rage. Or, they were sacrificed because some other group did, such as gays or pro-choice women.
Parents of gunned-down children. How dare they "use" their own dead children when they advocate for reasonable gun control? Can't people see this is just a smokescreen for trying to get the Second Amendment ripped out of the Constitution?
Single mother breadwinners. They are single. They are mothers. They must work to support themselves and their children. Men have nothing to do with any of those society-destroying circumstances.
Kids wearing hoodies. This one is self-evident.

That's the short list. Why has victim blaming reached such epidemic levels? I suppose you could go back to the Bible and take note of all the examples in which horrible catastrophes befall ordinary people and the only plausible explanation is that they must be sinners. Or you could look at our own country's history and observe the political machinations that are constantly applied to marginalized groups to ensure their continued struggles. By all means, we must divert attention away from the actual structural aspects of our society that keep these groups down. The poor, for example, are moochers who refuse to work, welfare queens, and rarely living as "traditional families," so they deserve a few more kicks in the gut. That will show them.

Perhaps it is an intrinsic trait of the privileged and successful to invent and assign
"reasons" for the misfortunes of others, lest they feel vulnerable to the same vicissitudes of fate. Perhaps the strong hate nothing more than the weak. Victim blaming makes you feel safe--it won't happen to you if there's a damn good reason it happened to someone else. I suppose it is a monumental overask to assume that people can fold into their consciences the proverb "there but for the grace of God go I." You don't have to be religious to appreciate the poignancy and relevance of this personal philosophy of mine.

Back to animals, the latest group of victims that have clearly brought about their own mistreatment. Bird strikes? Killer beavers? Really?? Paging Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers. SOS. Because, really, how can humans be this pathetic?

That poor beaver. There but for the grace of God go every single one of us, pounced upon by someone stronger and more powerful, and then publicly excoriated for thinking we could walk down the road in peace.

Lori Day is an educational consultant and writer. You can connect with Lori on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.