By Heather Wilhelm (with permission of the author)
One of the notable things about taking a vacation—and taking a week off from the news—is that when you return, the world can seem even nuttier than when you left. One of the greatest ironies of free market capitalism, meanwhile, is that it creates such a mind-boggling level of prosperity that its beneficiaries are often then free to invent and agonize over bizarre and dubious problems that otherwise would not exist.
So it is that we have Rachel Dolezal, a new media Venus who last week emerged, in coy Botticelli style, from the tumbling, foamy mists of Spokane, Wash. Dolezal, of course, is the now-infamous white woman who resolutely identifies as black, falsely claimed an African-American father, and who until recently headed the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. According to the latest accounts, Dolezal also once appeared in a dodgy homemade sex tape, because this is America, and if you’re not a poor man’s Kardashian by now, my friend, you will soon be.
If you peruse the exhaustive press coverage since Dolezal was “outed,” you’ll enjoy various stuffy and serious-faced speculations on the social constructs surrounding race, the complex intersections of biology and modern identity, the similarities between Dolezal’s “transracial” experiment and Caitlyn Jenner’s transgender gambit, and the insistence that any comparison between the two is so offensive that we might all suddenly implode like a box of half-baked Chinese fireworks naively purchased from a backwoods Indiana roadside shed. It is, to put it mildly, a lot to digest. It’s almost like auditing a class at Oberlin, but without the half-hearted drum circles, pilfered Xanax, and crippling piles of denial and student loan debt.
This is all fine and good—because again, this is America, and we’ve been bonkers for a solid while now—but when it comes down to it, the key takeaway of the Rachel Dolezal saga might be a whole lot simpler than many want to admit: Her story, deep down, doesn’t center on race. Dolezal wanted, first and foremost, to be a victim, and as such, she serves as an almost-perfect emblem of America’s growing “poor me” cult.
Of all of Dolezal’s fabrications—the dramatic teepee birth, the South African childhood, the bow-and-arrow subsistence hunting, the adopted brother who became her “son”—the most consistent thread centers on her alleged victimization. Her parents, she claimed, beat her with a South African baboon whip: “They were pretty similar to what was used as whips during slavery.” She claimed to be the victim of eight “documented hate crimes,” enacted by crazed white supremacists, in Idaho alone; no documentation exists.
While in Spokane, Dolezal received mysterious racist “hate mail” at the NAACP, inspiring a heartwarming rally of nearly 200 supporters. Police later noted the package must have been placed by someone internal with a mailbox key, making this the most questionable hate crime since tacky 1980s sensation Morton Downey Jr. erroneously painted a backwards swastika on his face—“skinheads” attacked him, you see—using an airport bathroom mirror.
The coup de grace, it should be noted, came years before this unfortunate, ramshackle variety show hit the road: In 2002, as a then-white undergraduate at Howard University, Dolezal sued the school for, you guessed it, racial discrimination. If you’re dedicated enough, victimhood is shockingly easy to find—and in Dolezal’s case, it’s also completely colorblind.
Today, the concept of victimhood is so powerful that it often morphs into a cudgel. It’s now routine to read news of male college students suing their alma maters after being sanctioned for spurious rape charges. (This week’s comes from Amherst, where a student was expelled despite his “victim’s” text messages claiming full responsibility for the incident.)
Meanwhile, a new staff manual for schools affiliated with the University of California, displays a lengthy list of frowned-upon “micro-aggressions,” including calling America “the land of opportunity.” (This, we are told, victimizes students with the “myth of meritocracy.”)
The victimhood cult seeps into our culture in quieter ways as well: earlier this year, documentary director Jennifer Siebel Newsom released “The Mask You Live In,” a film centered on the conceit that, among other things, we’re victimizing young boys by telling them to “be a man.”
Really? No offense, but if Teddy Roosevelt were brought back from the dead and invited to a showing, he’d probably shoot a hole through the screen, dismantle the projector with one bare hand, and then, just for fun, head out back to tame a wild, rabid boar, all while wearing a belt made of live piranhas that he found on his last deadly outing to the Amazon.
In short, it would be amazing. Alas, we live in a different day and age, one where heroism is marked by how many micro-aggressions one can dodge on the way to Starbucks, and where one Ms. Rachel Dolezal is reportedly entertaining offers for a reality show.
That last part’s true, by the way. Victimhood, even when it’s faux, can pay.
Heather Wilhelm is a writer based in Austin,Texas. Her work can be found at http://www.heatherwilhelm.com/ and her Twitter handle is @heatherwilhelm.
TRANS-IDENTIFICATION: EGOISTIC INDULGENCE V. DISCIPLINE
When transferable identity reaches the level of media coverage where it eclipses vital issues of government gone awry, ailment it’s time to pull on the galoshes. There’s a sea of manure to slog through and one misguided person after another is being sucked into the mire only to find that it gets deeper and more noisome the further he ventures. (Yes, link here will be invoked the proper grammatical use of the male gender term to indicate all persons. Political correctness be hanged.)
Behind the problem of individuals believing their identity is other than what they see in the mirror is that of self-absorption. Based on fallacious cultural constructs, viagra they spend far too much time worrying about their emotional acceptance of birth characteristics. If you didn’t get that, let me put it this way… People who are disturbed by what they look like, how they’re made or from where they come will grasp at trends to create a personal alternate reality. And, for the moment, it’s fashionable to identify with a victim minority, even if it’s a contrived exclusiveness like trans-genderism and trans-racialism.
Plainly, people who want to be something other than what emerged from the birth canal are focusing on the all-important “I” and getting it wrong. They think they’re seeing the inner being but they’re actually seeing an imagined being.
Laying the blame on “feeling” like something or someone other than what they were born, be it a man, woman, ethnicity or a platypus, they prefer to believe they are actually something else because they’ve been taught to hate their birth costume. And that is exactly how they treat their physical being: as a costume that can be discarded and replaced with another one which is more colorful (pardon the pun).
The question is why do so many people despise their physical nature? What is at the core of this self-hate? First and foremost is the focus on self. The constant companion of contemporary existence is the spotlighted “me.” How amazing it is that people spend most of their time thinking about themselves to the point of wishing to be something or someone else because there is no happy place for “me” to exist. At the core of this egoism is the utter lack of discipline.
Discipline is the dirty word that has crept into our social paradigm that is, in some cases unknowingly, disparaged by spiritual, atheistic, relativistic, pragmatic and religious individuals of all stripes.
Discipline is something that is wholly misunderstood to be a regulator, whether by time, space or cultural constraints. Most believe that to be disciplined means they live a life confined by outer parameters such as a work, study or play schedule that responds to rules generally imposed by society.
As such, it is a concept to be avoided, ignored or disdained by those who believe themselves to be nonconformists. The easiest way to reject conformity to social standards is to, instead, conform to nonconformists’ standards like joining outlaw bikers, gangs, sexual minorities, goths, ethnic politics, humanists, cults, artist colonies, gamers, etc., even the homeless. Any of these groups draw members who despise the trappings of discipline despite the fact that within each group and sub-group a hierarchy still reigns.
The thing about discipline is that it isn’t about the outside rules, observances or appearances. And it isn’t about emotionalism. The most focused person who spends endless hours writing ode for a computer program and is unable to let go until they physically drop from exhaustion is someone who exercises no discipline. The same can be said for any manager, missionary, volunteer, or professional who is compelled to continue until the “job” is done. They are relying on “feeling” a sense of accomplishment.
Standing by the previous statement, it takes discipline to listen to the true needs of the physical and the spirit and to separate the two. What gets in the way is: emotion.
Emotion twists our response from being guided to accomplish a task into a “need” to finish a task no matter the cost, which may be one’s health. Or emotion may fill an emptiness with any alternative that appears to console the feelings for a while, though it isn’t lasting. And that alternative could be seeking fulfillment in food, drugs, wild behavior, marathon gaming, asceticism or attempting to change our physical being to fit the emotional uproar. In every case, what is missing is discipline.
So what is discipline that it can counter the emotional fracturing that so many are suffering? Discipline is acceptance of who you are within the world as it is, not as you imagine it to be; and we have been educated to believe that the world is whatever we want it to be.
Does that sound like disciplined thought? No, it is not. It is emotional tree-swinging between elusive branches that confuses individuals to the point of self-destructive behavior. It is the opposite of sound connection to the spirit, which is not “soul-searching” because the soul is the essence of emotionality.
The problem is that public education, media and the “common wisdom” for the past five decades has taught youth to trust their feelings, their emotions, so, should they feel like they’re really the opposite sex or some other skin tone than the one God gave them, that’s fine and dandy.
In fact, it’s encouraged, since the less discipline one engages in to realize the true gifts one is given, the more the social fabric unravels.
And this concept of living an imagined reality is about unraveling American culture: first, by denying that such a thing exists; and, second, by redefining freedom as caving in to undisciplined emotion, thought and action.
American culture is solidly founded on Christian principles of Grace, the gift of Truth from which individual liberty is derived.
In reality, freedom comes by reaching beyond base emotions, which can feed a work-til-you-drop session, a drugged frenzy or undergoing body-altering surgery, to changing one’s focus from “me” to Him — from the small insular individual, to the macro: the teachings of the religion of America’s “Founding Fathers” (or, these days, would that be too “sexist” a phrase -- Founding Fathers -- to use under any circumstance?)
The true American ethos, which emotional indulgence denies and steadily denigrates, is the culture of Freedom that exists nowhere else in the world.
And according to that cultural norm, discipline starts with the individual!
BIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION ON THE AUTHOR
Dru Kristenev is a former journalist and author of the four fact-based novels of the Baron Series .
The entertaining suspense of these stories, beginning with Land Barons, spill the tale of America’s current direction regarding property rights, energy, healthcare and personal liberty.
You can visit her website at http://changingwind.org/