- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 15, 2007


It has been more than 60 years since Gen. George S. Patton told his 3rd Army soldiers as they prepared for D-Day that “Americans love a winner.”

Much has changed. That was a time when the world was viewed in black and white, good and evil, and America was fighting not only for its survival, but the Free World’s. Now times are different and, with all due respect to the Gen. Patton, America’s politically correct class disagrees with him. They increasingly see the world in shades of gray with neither good nor evil.

In fact, within the world of PC preciousness, there seems a race to abase. To recognize as victims all manner of people who were formerly seen as culpable and to call into question achievers who were once seen as successful — all in order to advance various social agendas.

The goal to recast “victimhood” takes many forms — claims to suffer from outdated attitudes, traditional values and institutions, and society at large. All then can become excuses for an individual’s own misdeeds or poor behavior. In fact in the case of various addictions, one’s own behavior can become its own excuse. Professions to seek treatment, therapy, sensitivity training or counseling have all become what the Mexican border was in the days of the Wild West — the promise of escape from formal punishment and a chance to emerge on the other side as a new person. It becomes increasingly hard to imagine for which culprits this border is inaccessible today.

Most galling in this pursuit of New Age victims is that real victims are too often dismissed — the mugged for the mugger, the murdered for the murderer — to the point that the two begin to approach an appalling equivalence. Victimhood means one is undeserving of one’s condition; undeserving means one is not responsible for it. When both are somehow victims, both are somehow blameless. By erasing culpability of fault, the culpable are lifted up and returned to the mainstream.

Of course conservatives recognize victims too. Victims’ Rights legislation is a case in point, where the traditional victim’s — the actual injured party’s — rights are advanced. In addition to the differentiation of victims themselves, there is a very different process conservatives pursue for victims. Conservatives recognize, remediate and then relinquish the role of victim, the PC class reveres and relishes it.

This PC predilection to redefine what have conventionally been seen as personal failings is complimented by a tendency to question personal accomplishment. This is epitomized by the sentiment that the successful must “give back” to their community, though their very success has already done so. The simple fact that someone is responsible for themselves is already a benefit to their community, in so much as the community does not have to take responsibility for them. For those who achieve even more, such as successfully running a business, the boon is multifold — jobs created and products or services provided are already benefits to the communities in which they operate.

In fact, for a legal enterprise in a free market, success could not have occurred unless their community found a benefit from their endeavors — a good the community wanted at a price they found attractive.

Of course, the PC class’ inability to accept the workings of a free market itself underscores the root of their predisposition to redefine victims and success: rejection of competition as a legitimate way of determining outcomes. This goes much deeper than PC attempts to ban dodge ball from schools. The Left in general has always been adverse to competition.

The capitalist view is that overall society benefits from competition and that there is dynamism even in the destruction of uncompetitive enterprises. The Left sees competition as wasteful, as well as hurtful. In their mind, competition is a zero-sum game which produces a single winner and losers of all the rest. For them, competition inherently victimizes more than it rewards or benefits.

For this reason, the traditional idea of winners and losers is inherently questionable. Traditional losers are definitionally victims and traditional winners must still validate their success because both result from a flawed process.

Since society cannot legitimately regulate itself through competition, the Left wants an antidote in the form of an intermediary: the state. In contrast to competition’s blind justice, the state can more properly determine the “deserving” and level the whole.

The politically correct perversity of redefining victims and achievers comes of a different vision in pursuit of a definite agenda. By not merely absolving faults, they have created a refuge for wrongdoers, a literal get-out-jail-free card.

The PC predisposition is a sad reminder of how far we have drifted from Patton’s vision when America faced a supreme challenge. He spoke to and for those Americans who had no choice but to meet it because they did not have the luxury of simply redefining it: “Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all the time… for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.”

But it is also a good reminder to us today of how short a step it is from politically correct to politically controlled.

J.T. Young served in the Treasury Department and the Office of Management and Budget 2001-2004 and as a congressional staff member 1987-2000.

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