Friday, August 10, 2012

Dan Greenfield and the Victim Value Index

Mike L.

{Cross-posted at Israel Thrives and Geoffff's Joint, Bar and Grill.}

Among the top pro-Israel bloggers, there is no one quite like Daniel Greenfield. The guy is a balls-to-the-wall pro-Israel, pro-Jewish, pro-America opinionator who most would consider to be hard-line and right-wing. His blog, for those of you who may be unaware, is called Sultan Knish, but the guy is now published all over the place. The reason for this is because he's a brilliant analyst and a terrific writer.

He's got a piece up as of a few days ago entitled, "The Minority Victim Value Index," which represents a general criticism of the western progressive-left, if not a criticism of prevailing mainstream media assumptions, more generally.

He writes:

Historical suffering transmuted into guilt is the gold standard of liberalism, but suffering is relative. In our wonderful multi-everything society, there are so many groups with so many claims to pain. Everyone agrees that the Heteronormative Caucasian Patriarchy of Doom is to blame for all of it, but that still leaves the question of dividing up the spoils of the system and all the privileges to be gained from denouncing privilege. A caste system doesn't work without priority, and calculating the priority of privilege claims by the perpetually underprivileged is complicated.

Heteronormative Caucasian Patriarchy of Doom.

I'm sorry, but you just have to love that!

His thesis is that victim status, i.e., one's place on the Victim Value Index (VVI) is the "gold standard" of western progressivism and that there is a distinct hierarchy of privilege based around that status with Arab-Muslims at the front of the line. First come Arabs, then come black people, then come others. Jews are toward the very end of the line and white males bring up the rear.

Where a group is placed on the VVI, however, has precious little to do with historical injustice. By all rights native Americans should be at the top of the list, at least in the United States, but they are not. Anyone who follows western progressivism understands that there is, today, virtually no concern for the decimation (economic, social, or literal) of the native population. It's just not discussed very much, although, as Greenfield mentions, it is often used as a club against any creeping pride that Americans might take in our own country.

It is the Victim Value Index (VVI) that explains the progressive acceptance of Islamist violence against Jews and other dhimmis.

Anyone who is shocked that the left would make common cause with Islamists has forgotten the Black Panthers. From the left's point of view they are doing the same thing by bringing on board a group with some revolutionary energy and a willingness to overthrow the system. Associating with them gives the left some revolutionary cred and the supposed ability to turn the violence on and off.

This is absolutely correct. Anyone who knows anything about 1960s revolutionary activities in the United States knows that the political left championed Huey and the Panthers, not because the Black Panther Party represented liberal values, but because the Panthers were considered the vanguard of "the Movement" to overthrow the prevailing political-economic system.

On the left, today, that role is filled by radical Islam which is precisely why we saw western progressives join with Jihadis on the Mavi Marmara in an effort to confront Jews on the high seas.

September 11 and its aftermath is why Muslims have gone to the top of the Victim Value Index. The left may swear up and down that they are interested in Muslim civil rights, but if the Muslims were Sikhs, they would merit a place somewhere in the back. Before Muslims began prominently blowing things up in the United States, the left barely paid any attention to them. Once they did, they began outweighing every other group in the country because killing 3,000 people is the gold standard of revolutionary mayhem.

One of the differences that I have with Greenfield is that I do not believe that it was "Muslims" who "began prominently blowing things up," but radical Jihadis who did so. I still believe that it is important to highlight the distinction. Most Muslims are not particularly in the Jew Killing Business. We need to reserve that category for groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Nonetheless, Greenfield is absolutely correct when he points to 9/11 as the reason why Muslims go to the front of the line on the Victim Value Index. After 9/11 there was a much ballyhooed, but non-existent, backlash against Muslims in the United States. The feeling on the left was that Muslims were being unustly persecuted because of 9/11. I, myself, stood up in front of students and told them not to blame Muslims for what happened on that day. The fact of the matter, however, according to crime statistics, is that Jews are something like ten times more likely to be victims of racially motivated crimes and that Muslims, themselves, tend to be the biggest perpetrators of hate crimes against Jews, both here and in Europe.

Latinos are still somewhere in the middle. Native Americans are in the back along with most unclassified minorities. Homosexuals are somewhere near the front, but behind African-Americans. Their status tends to drift wildly depending on current events, but they cannot overtake African-Americans or fall behind Latinos. Not unless some drastic events take place that change their status. Women are, and have always been, in the back.

Women are toward the rear.

I have to say, it's a shame about feminism. Women's issues are almost never at the forefront of progressive-left concerns these days. There was a brief moment in the early-mid 1970s when feminism seemed to be making some headway, and then an even briefer moment in the middle of the 1980s, but once the feminists, themselves, sought to reconcile feminism with radical Islam the movement just died. This is because Sharia and feminism are entirely irreconcilable. Once I started hearing western progressive women telling me that the burka was "liberating," I knew it was all over.

The practical value of the Victim Value Index is that it mediates internal conflicts. For example, a bias attack by a member of a high-value group on a member of a low-value group is much less likely to be treated as a hate crime. However, an ordinary attack by a member of a low-value group on a member of a high-value group is more likely to be treated as a bias attack even when it isn't.

For Jewish people this gets directly to the point.

If on Greenfield's Victim Value Index (VVI) Muslims are at the head of the line and white men bring up the rear, Jews are barely in front of white men. Women are toward the rear and Jews are behind women in this progressive hierarchy of who counts and who doesn't.

If you want to understand just why it is that progressives tend not to care about radical Jihadi genocidal intention toward Jews, Greenfield's Index is a helpful model for analysis. On the arbitrary progressive-left hierarchy of victim status, we simply don't count. We are viewed as privileged white people and, therefore, victimizers.

If you wish to participate in the progressive movement as a Jew then you must accept your role as the enemy. That is, unless you are willing to lay blame at the feet of your Jewish brothers and sisters in Israel for the Arab persecution of Jews, then you are not considered a "good" Jew among progressives.

And this is why "good" Jews like Peter Beinart blames his fellow Jews for their own persecution. He honestly believes that Israeli Jews are the victimizers of the poor, innocent Palestinians, when the opposite is the truth.

It's not historically accurate, but it is the way that we were raised. It's embedded in the political culture that western Jews tended to grow up in. What I think is that it is long past time to rethink these assumptions, particularly given the fact that the Jews of the Middle East are only now emerging from 14 centuries of persecution under the boot of Islamic imperialism.

We do not need to be at the front of the line of anyone's hierarchy of victim status, but we definitely need to stop blaming ourselves for Islamic or Palestinian or Arab hatred toward us. The problem, once again, is not the fact that Jews live and build housing for themselves in Judea and Samaria, but that racist western progressives, like Barack Obama, believe it is.

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