Joseph Cotto, 9/30/2015 [Archive]

Victimhood Takes Hold

By Joseph Cotto

Perpetual victimhood is fast becoming a pastime in the good old U-S-of-A.

Egged on by the doctrines of multiculturalism, it calls for, among other things, treating perceived historical injustices as present-day acts of terror, holding all members of a group responsible for what some of their forefathers are accused of doing long ago, deeming calls for cultural assimilation as human rights violations, and demanding objective standards be thrown out in favor of relativism when evaluating societal norms.

Simply put, victimhood allows its adherents to create a reality which suits their emotional fancies, with facts and figures deemed unimportant, if not adversarial. What one desires to be true becomes 'fact', and actual facts which present a contrary perspective often become treated as mere opinions.

Where does this lead? Specifically, if a nation bases its culture on such a concept, more technically described as an 'anti-concept', what will be the ultimate result?

Fortunately, guesswork is unnecessary.

The country beating us to the punch is not of the Global South, nor is it a place without development until recently. As a matter of fact, virtually all people speak English there, and the land in question has provided throngs of immigrants to the United States for hundreds of years.

As some might have guessed, this place is what has come to be known as the Republic of Ireland. During the Republic's infancy, almost one century ago, it was called the 'Free State'. Free in what rational sense remains the question, but the name derives from people outside of Northern Ireland demanding an end to British rule.

They finally got their way after a so-called 'War of Independence' which principally entailed murdering police officers, though also included an abhorrent dose of civilian casualties. Advocates of independence claimed that the Protestant British establishment was holding them back from prosperity and progress. This is a curious claim as the British essentially built the entire country from the ground up.

Whether one marvels at the Regency architecture of downtown Dublin, looks out over the port at Cork, or simply listens to Irishmen speaking English, historical British effort is the reason. Of course, the British, who came to the Emerald Isle so many generations ago that they were called 'Normans' at the time, essentially owned the whole country. Many Republican Irish claim that the British were unfair landlords who hated Irish life simply because of its Roman Catholic character.

No doubt that Anglican-ordained Britain has not traditionally been the most ideal place for Catholics. However, the echoes of Irish anti-British invective ring hollow. Firstly, we must recognize that Normans came to Ireland at the invitation of a Celtic king who could not control his subjects. Beyond this, Irish social norms have long encouraged having large families without the means of financing them, what can only be described as rampant alcoholism, chiding social mobility as snobbery, all-around clannishness, and religious fanaticism.

All of this is the perfect brew for a people to be used as cheap labor. That sums up virtually all British-Irish cultural relations.

So, with the dreaded British out of the picture, how as the Republic fared? Allow Rob Brown of the left-wing New Statesman to explain. In 2010, he wrote that "(f)or many....the history of independent Ireland can be summed up in a few short words: free state to failed state. The need to borrow 85 billion euros from the EU and the IMF....has abruptly ended almost a century of national economic sovereignty."

Last year, Kevin Toolis of the more right-leaning Financial Times noted that "the Irish Free State that arose in the 1920s was a parochial disaster — a backward step even from English rule, which was far from benign", growing so treacherous that "(f)rom the 1920s to the 1970s, millions of Irish were forced to flee — ironically to the UK, in search of work and social freedom."

If the United States continues exalting victimhood, even a nation so great and powerful as our own can wind up in the dumps alongside the Republic of Ireland. While bad things surely happened during the past, such indignities need not guide our future.

For the sake of the American Dream, they cannot.


Copyright 2015 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at

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