TCS Daily

The Psychology of Victimhood

By Helen Smith - May 9, 2006 12:00 AM

While listening to the radio recently, I heard The writer Christopher Hitchens' riveting description of Shelby Steele's new book White Guilt : How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era. I promptly ordered it and have not been disappointed.

White Guilt is a powerful essay that (as George Will says in the cover blurb) "braids family memories with an acute understanding of national policies." Will says Steele "demonstrates what went wrong when whites for their reasons and blacks for theirs, embraced the idea that white guilt explains blacks' problems and can be the basis of polices for ameliorating them."

But what happens when our national policies are derived from white guilt and black anger rather than the universal principles that free societies aspire to -- freedom for the individual, rights for all individuals, equality under the law, equality of opportunity, and an inherent right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?"

Steele answers this question in an exquisite detail indicative of one who has spent much time reflecting on the psychological underpinnings of race relations in the US. He explains that the current dynamic of black anger and the response of white guilt is a destructive combination, doing real harm to the development of African Americans. As a way of explaining "black anger," he describes his early years as an African American youth who wanted to be a batboy for an all-white YMCA baseball team. He was eventually rejected by the coach of the team because "no coloreds were allowed" at the park where the team played the away games.

As a psychologist who works with people with anger problems, I admire the way that Steele understands and explains his psychological response to this rejection -- he understands that rather than anger to his humiliating batboy experience, he felt calm, the calm that comes from knowing at the time that racism was an "impersonal and immutable feature of the world, like snow in winter or rain in spring." Anger came only ten years later, after the world had changed. The change was the civil rights movement that "disciplined America using democratic principles, establishing the point that one's race could not mitigate one's rights as an individual." Steele points out that the term black rage came into use after the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, not before.

Oppression, says Steele, does not push people to rage or revolution. "Anger is acted out by the oppressed only when real weakness is perceived in the oppressor. Anger in the oppressed is a response to perceived opportunity, not to injustice." This makes sense: people who act out angrily usually do so when there is no threat of being punished and every indication that their anger will get them what they want. This is not always such a bad thing, of course, but black anger and the responding white guilt is not the psychological dynamic of freedom. It is a deal between the power hungry left and black leaders who care more about being thrown a bone and offering fake opportunity to their followers than they care about freedom, autonomy and excellence.

White guilt leads to "the vacuum of moral authority that comes from simply knowing that one's race is associated with racism." But according to Steele, once whites have acknowledged historical racism, they lose moral authority over everything having to do with race, equality, social justice and poverty. "The authority they lose transfers to the 'victims' of racism and becomes their great power in society. This is why white guilt is quite literally the same thing as black power." It is also why black anger reinforces white guilt and the circle of victimhood continues.

Case in point: Politicians frequently stir up black anger to gain further points for their party, not for actually doing anything to promote freedom and autonomy for blacks. For example, Sen. Hillary Clinton recently stated that the House of Representatives is being "run like a plantation." However, it becomes even more obvious after reading Steele's book that Hillary and her ilk are the plantation.

Today's political left, according to Steele, has shifted from the old left approach of individual freedom, principles and responsibility, to the new left of dissociation. This new dissociated left has turned against democratic principles and instead engages in a victim mentality for blacks that keeps them on the plantation. The left's deal is that they will keep throwing out a few bones like affirmative action, as long as blacks will allow themselves to be reduced to their race and the left can take moral authority for "helping" them. As Steele points out, this is a deal with the devil. It results in the impotence of the left in solving social problems and less freedom and autonomy for blacks. How can social problems be solved by telling people that they remain victims because of their race (or gender, for that matter?)

To pick an example from my own profession, if psychologists spent their time telling their patients they were victims of mental illness (or racism etc.) and that they could only get better by coming to therapy, how could the patient ever develop autonomy, skills, and the ability to solve their own problems? It is the same with the race card on the part of the left -- victimhood will keep blacks maintained in the status quo, always looking to the left for validation and to enforce their "rights." But the same democratic principles that Martin Luther King used to discipline this country in the 60's are the same ones that will enable African Americans to become truly free and to continue to develop the personal responsibility and skills needed to solve the social problems that have plagued blacks in America for some time now.

Bravo, Dr. Steele, for writing such a much needed and intriguing book on the complexities of race relations.

Dr. Helen Smith is a forensic psychologist in Knoxville, Tennessee. She is also an author, filmmaker and has a blog at She also does a weekly podcast on political and psychological issues as part of the Glenn and Helen show.



Black and Hispanic
I understand the White guilt, Black anger, theme. Mostly historical from a hidden agenda of the White Masonic founding fathers, writing their constitution, bill of rights etc. filled with brotherhood, unity and democracy, and yet go home to their slaves, sexually abuse the domestic help and then go to bed with their white wifes, the Plantation life. Now with the rise of Hispanics, Black gets to run behind the bus, while the Mexican drives the bus, and white driving along side. A well writen essay and yet feel out of date from current events. When you get a 20 year old black basketball player, barely can speak, police record, and yet 7.9 million over 5 years, turns the white guilt into black anger, or white anger, and the hispanic looking to get over on anyone available at the time. Micheal Jordan, Tiger woods, Barry Bond, no anger, lots of Money and what about Bill Cosby's opinions on Rap Crap and crotch grabbing, a common ground for blacks and hispanics, crotch grabbing in public running rampid, is that also white guilt.

Missing the Point
It was not possible for the white Founding Fathers to just up and obliterate slavery. They had a nation to establish, and too many in that forthcoming nation wanted slavery kept around for a while. These men were already wanted by the British for high treason; it would have done no good to anybody, including the slaves, for them to be wanted for lynching by their own people, too. There was no "hidden agenda". They had many compromises to make, and some of the things that they generally wanted had to be left to the future to be brought about.

That is part of the very point of the excellent and much-needed article and book: white people (except for those who are leaders of the power-hungry left) do not have any hidden agendas against black people at all. Blacks create their own problems by, sadly, continuing to adhere to an anti-intellectual culture. And the REAL black leaders in this nation, such as Larry Elder and John McWhorter, have been saying that for some time.

It is indeed time for white Americans (and even a lot of Western Europeans) living today to stop feeling "guilty". And time for blacks to quit playing the guilt card.

Slavery is an institution that has existed for thousands of years. Perhaps as long as man has been man.

All cultures practiced it, Mediterranean, European, African, North-South-Central American. If anyone had been living on Antartica, it probably would have existed there as well.

It was european culture that ended slavery, not african, asian, or any other. Heck, slavery still exists in africa and the middle east.

Slavery not a White Institution
The black slave sent to the America were sold by Arabs and other blacks.
There are people in Saudi Arabia today who were raised with 'legal' slaves.
It was the Puritan Christians who led the battle in the USA against slavery.

Slavery, bodage, child pionography
When you see Iranian women running in the street with signs, "Down with Freedom". Black Uinted Nations black-officials, who's responsibility is to distribute food to the starving are asking sex for food and soap for sex, to 8 to 12 year olds female and male. Black leader Zuma saying he took a shower to minimise infection, after having sex with a known HIV positive domestic worker. Historically the Blacks sold their own to the European first, for slavery. The European wasn't going to run into the jungle, it was always a black selling out his own people. You see this in Mexico all the time Mexicans, especially the gangs, creating, maintaining violence. They both are their worst enemy, and this has nothing to do with white guilt, it is more of a mal-nutritioned, uneducated human involved with self-sabotage. Self-sabotage, like Micheal Tyson etc. White attract their own brand of problems and guilt on the blacks for this, no way. Every race and culture has been the victim, and all have been the opressor, just a matter of history.

The Islamic terrorists are trying to exploit this guilt. Just look at the Pavlovian response after 9/11. "Why to they hate us?" and the massive surge in Koran sales.

Hidden agenda of White Masonic founding fathers
I am interested in more information about these people and the relationship of Freemasonry. Sounds a little conspiratorial.

never mentioned
Whenever somebody brings up our Founding Fathers penchant for slavery ~230 years ago, they conveniently fail to mention that it was sons of the Founding Fathers that fought and died to do away with slavery in North America. Nor is Dr. Livingstone ever mentioned as being largely responsible for the anti-slavery movement within the British Empire. Truly "progressive" at the time.
People like Thomas Sowell, Condi Rice, Bill Cosby, Shelby Steele and others like them are proving that the Cult of Victimhood is a dead end--and people are finally starting to pay attention. Not to worry though, for the left still has a stranglehold on education which gives them ample opportunity to indoctrinate yet another generation of "underclassmen"--sorry--"underclasspeople" utterly dependent on them for everything.

Yes, this correct
Tha Arabs are still saying that the USA and Zionists bombed their own buildings to make the Arab look bad, this formula of thinking is taught to the children, to make sure the next generation is equally as hatefull. Afro-Americans went from "I'm black and Proud" with James Brown, put a million man march in 95, and then the PUFF DADDY, in your face attitude, intimidating everyone when in large groups. Rap the Rape and romance of sex and violence. The Micheal Jackson jumping around the stage grabbing his crotch, screaming "I'm BAD, I'm Bad", the ignorance of arrogance run's rampid on MTV, and yet this is the new institute of learning-MTV. Number one musical to win an Oscar, "Hard to be a Pimp", What do you expect form ingnorance on a pedistal, Trashing women, glorifying drug peddling and violence. Anything for a buck, sad culture of no respect and no discipline of responsibility. After all that, Why come crying to a guilty White.

Masonic vision
I guess you'll have to wait for the de Vinci code. Go into freemasonry web site, go to any agnostic-templar site, then read the one dollar bill, George and Boys, your first 5 Presidents, 90% of all Mexican presidents, all through S.American until recently was all Masonic rule, not conspiracy, but history. I find this very often that most people have no real knowledge of history in detail, as in the Star of David on the one dollar bill, Washington's presidential seal. Din't teach some of the important details, Christopher Columbus, an Italian Jew, not a Christian, first secretary of Treasury, a Jew, Alexander Hamilton. Or even the All seeing eye that cannot be seen, on the unfinished pyramid, on the one dollar bill. no conspiracy, only history.

Freemasonry is neither a group that is organized with the purpose of politically taking over the world nor a "satanic" group. If anything, they consider themselves a group of intellectual elites who want to do what they can to be beacons of light in the darkness. So, what "conspiracy" would they be propogating?

RE: Yes, this is correct
And then the black hip-hopsters blame white corporate recording labels for their image, lyrics, and violent actions.

If the white recording lables are that wicked, then stop working for them. Or are they admitting that they'll just do anything for big bucks?

Historical details
At the time of George and friends, Jews could not go to a public school, Alexander Hamilton the first sec. of Treasury, graduated from a Hebrew school, and Blacks were considered 1/2 Human. Psycologically you couldn't consider them equal humans, to treat them poorly, females sexually, males through labour, notallowing reading and writing. Everything to keep them in their place, Jews and Black,common history in some areas. Abe Saperstein, created the famous Globe Trotters, Con. Powell got his bid break in life from a Jew, Sammy Davis decided to be Jewish, all his friends were. History is wild. If you don't see the hidden agenda, then it's usually right under your nose, Masons famous for hiding in the obvious, by your opinions, their doing a great job, Read Manly P Hall, a masonic inspirational writer, 33 degree mason Just as George Washington and Benito Juarez, first presidents. Their first loyalty was, and still is to Masons first(which included a concept of God, country second, families third, and so on.One cannot understand what's happening today, if you don't know how we got there, do you recall the Santa Maria, one of the boats of Christopher Columbus, White sail red cross, knights of the Templar, Masons.

about the only thing the DaVinci code got right, was the spelling

Isn't this great, truth so well hidden that even the educated are blind to the historical connections.. Because of the violent wrath of the Catholic Church, any man of his own mind, needed his opinions to be hidden. Cupernicious, Galeleo,Bruno, Issac Newton, ran and hid from the Popes of their time, theme was no torture shall be spaired. So the hidden agenda became the agenda to further Mankinds knowledge. Today, it's governments, that restrict knowledge, Christian and Islamic. The Iranian population doesn't know what's going on, The American public, realizing no WWMD, also doesn't know really what's going, they fall to the media madness. The truth has become less important, the disguise become number one.

And thus the periodic repulblican party great black hope
'White guilt leads to "the vacuum of moral authority that comes from simply knowing that one's race is associated with racism." But according to Steele, once whites have acknowledged historical racism, they lose moral authority over everything having to do with race, equality, social justice and poverty. "The authority they lose transfers to the 'victims' of racism and becomes their great power in society. This is why white guilt is quite literally the same thing as black power." It is also why black anger reinforces white guilt and the circle of victimhood continues. '

And thus the periodic repulblican party great black hope. Colon Powell, Condaliza Rice etc.

The Democrats Cast Themselves as Champions for Blacks, but the Republicans Actually Do Something
It's a joke that Bill Clinton was the first black president. Colin Powell would have been so, had he chosen to run.

Guilt? I don't feel guilty about a damned thing. I have NO reason to feel guilty. Among other things my family wasn't even in this country at the time of slavery. Besides, for even those whose families were --- that "sins of the father" thing is a pile of crap.

Now, the Liberals/Democrats would love us to feel guilty. That was what LBJ's "Great Society" was all about --- and it created a permanent welfare class. Besides, it's great for class warfare and giving the government a major socialist direction. Now, if there is guilt to go around, those clowns should feel VERY guilty. HEAR THAT TED KENNEDY????

Re: Clinton
heh--I wonder if he still has his office up there in Harlem? anybody know? Somehow I doubt it...

no guilt here either...
I'm with you. The only times I've felt bad about being white was when I got badly sunburned as a kid and my Hawaiian pals didn't--until there was sunscreen, of course!

Slavery was not legal in all of the colonies. In fact I believe it had been defacto abolished in the northern colonies (north of Virginia), long before the revolution. The Quakers were morally opposed to the practice and many worked to free slaves.

Also not all of the Founders nor the Colonialists agreed with the practice nor followed it.

Some of the British colonies placed restrictions on the practice of slavery, others banned it completely, such as Rhode Island in 1774. -- From Wikipedia

No one knows what shaped cross Columbus had on his sails. It is usually assumed that it was a red cross on white since red and white were the colors of his patrons but that is speculation and a case can be made for a green cross instead.

There is nothing to indicate that Columbus was a Mason and what we think of as Masons only date to the early 18th century.

Some genetic testing was done on Columbus's remains two years ago. They concluded that he might have been Spanish but he was not Jewish.

Safaric Jew
History, beginning of the 14 century Jews thrown out of Spain, for the second time in 300 years, thrown into Italy, Morrocco and Portugal, funny all european kids in school know he was An Italian Map maker, who sold his idea to the Queen Isabella. However, your choice, on your beliefs. History is just a madhouse, it's turned over all the stones and its very careful reading leaves you little that's unknown.

Aloha Kaneala
Hang loose! Brudda, the Kahuna's say the information is in the rocks, similar to the Mayans. Historical guilt can be claimed by all cultures, when you study Anthropology you'll find, that at one time all cultures ate their first born, so the tradition, the rest is history.

Where is He? in the Library.
Yes he is admiring the life size painting of himself, in his new library, notice he hasn't taken his hands out of his pocket for some time now. How exciting!

No Guilt
Moses, Old Testament, the children shall not pay for the sins of their fathers, only in enviromental issues where sins are past down time and time again. The karmic cycle of human mischeviousness.

Silent majority
Majority say nothing, Who speaks the loudest, the longest, eventually will be beleived, Hitler, Stalin, Castro and now Chavez and the Iranian Pres. Small men, loud mouth,silent majority, a very lethal combination.

Fame and Shame is all the same!

nice link,thankyou

What I Know
I have already read the Da Vinci Code--last week, in fact (someone asked me to read it so I could tell her how much of the ideas were factual and how many were made up by Brown, otherwies I would never have bothered to read it, though it was decent). I was introduced to exactly zero new ideas. The book does not shock mek, does not wound me, does not suprise me, does not threaten me.

I know a great deal about the Templars, Masons, and all sort of related stuff.

So. Why don't you tell us what the great Masonic conspiracy is?

Come on
The DaVinci code has been shredded by people who actually know what they are talking about.

There was no suppression of veneration of Mary Magdelene by the early church. She was regarded as the second most important saint for much of the first century. Sometimes refered to as the Apostle to the Apostles.

The Priori of Scion only dates back to the mid 1950's.

There is no truth in the book, it's a halfway decent piece of fiction. But fiction is all it is.

That there is no conspiracy.
The agnostic gospel from the Nag Hammandi finding, sheds more light on the life of Jesus and the 12 apostles, representing the tweive tribes of Israel. Jesus was a Rabbi, Joseph his father, community elder and healer, an Essene Jewish leader, Mary also political but a Jew from another rebellious tribe, the name escapes me right now. Roger Whitworth wrote a book, Shimbala press I beleive, titled "The nine faces of Jesus, or Joshua ben Joshua. History in the hiding. The church has always been agressive towards the dead sea scrolls, all this and much more fits together with the Templars, illumata, freemasons, society of skull and cross bone, all these, fit together, to show the worst in the Catholic church, the conspiracy is the take over of the Papal position, and the Catholic church.

Where is this going?
I hope that you are not saying that Spain expelled its Jews and they ended up in Italy. During most of the Middle ages, Spain was very open to Jews and was considered the new Jerusalem. The expulsion came in 1492, six weeks before Columbus sailed.

Columbus's connections to Genoa have always been shakey. He told different stories about his past at different times. Genetic testing, on the other hand, is a lot more objective.

I am not sure where you are going with this anyway. Are you saying that Columbus's voyage was part of a Masonic plan? That the Masons already knew about America? If there was a powerful group behind him then why did it take so long for Columbus to get funding? Why did Columbus insist that he had found the "thousand islands" Marco Polo described as being off the coast of China? In fact, why bring China into it at all? There was a lot of money to be made from finding new lands.

If the Masons didn't know about America then why even try to bring Columbus into the discussion?

Hre we go again
Prior of Zion, as been around since King Soloman, one of the major pillars in mason architecture. !950, the Masons themselves through out theries into the public, just send them on an academic goose chase. Your last comment, is exactly what they want and expect, fiction for those who don't know. "Have You Traveled"?

Dear Mark
My good fellow, we need to get you a non-christian history book. The Knights of Templar for protection, good business at the time. Check out some Jewish history books, get a feel from the other side. The Masons will only let you know what they want, "The all seeing eye, that cannot be seen", the one dollar bill read historically has a wealth of Masonic history, the Masons colours, RED, WHITE and BLUE. not Budweiser.

I guess that means that you aren't going to answer my question.

the conspiracy question
I did answer it, an old vendeta, revenge, on the Catholic church. The Vatican is very knowledgable about this, the former Pope was very active in this relationship. No dodge meant, "HAVE YOU TRAVELLED" you haven't answered me, are you dodging.only playing, yet the question has a hidden masonic meaning, do you know the answer?

Kennedy's Guilty?
Hey, old Joe Kennedy made his money rum-running and bootlegging. What else did he do/condone?

The old man used to bring his mistresses HOME, in the presence of his wife Rose, and screw them there.

Did yo notice how nobidy is making a big deal about Rep. Patrick Kennedy checking himself into drug rehab for using ILLEGAL drugs. They ran Ruch Limbaugh into the ground because he, like millions of others (including my daughter), got hooked on the pain-relievers for his bad back.

Double standard for the Kennedys?

Don't get it either
Maybe deals can be made with the devil and the Kennedy's pay with their children and we have to suffer the fools. Just wonder who keeps voting for them.

the priori of zion
was founded by a group of right wing Frenchmen in the 1950's.

to a conspiracist
Lack of evidence is nothing more than proof of how good the conspiracy is.

hahd fo take da blame wen the stuf had happen befo you was hea!

Wow! your right
Yes, yes your right you have not travelled or understood the code, 1950, this is the public information to distract. Proof is not like in science, there is no experiment, only historical writings, and for these answers you have refer to Manly P Hall I'm he is in the net. Let's behave about, only because of the sea of material is much to great written discussion, thousands of books refer to the same, from all languages, save Chinese. Like here in Mexico, Mason symbols everywhere, few notice. Why haven't you said anything about the one dollar bill, aren't they good, Washington's Egyptian monument. It is right there, but none know the real meaning, History Mark.

Blame & Shame
Comes with the territory, you were born into a particular group of people, which gathered under common association, therefore guilty by association. This is what it means, personally, I don't beleive in any original sin and therefore guilt is like beauty, in the eyes of the beholder.

Sad to say your right
Joe was not a nice man, he was one of the sparks to ingnite and then profit from Vietnam. Family must understand KARMA, what goes around comes around.

Hello.. Umm, Ramaya??
Hey, sorry to intrude on your private little world.

The TCS article by Dr. Helen Smith raises important issues, and references a seminal ongoing work by Shelby Steele, all regarding what is, socially and culturally, among the most pressing point of contention in this country today.

I had hoped to see some spirited discussion about the article, and also about Mr. Steele's efforts.

Instead, I see 80% of the discussion is being monopolized by a paragraphically-challenged person who is perpetually obsessed with his 'Jew Issues'. This is not said to diminish Jews or anything related to Jews. This is said to make the fairly obvious point that this particular forum, following this particular article, is not the appropriate place to be obsessing over ancient history, over masonic/jewish/papal trivia.

This is where we should be discussing issues in the here and now, of current problems and solutions, and especially about the bravery of a few people who are standing up and saying what needs to be said.

It NEEDS to be said that Blacks no longer need or deserve their 'special' place in this country. It NEEDS to be said that whites need to 'get over it', and stop viewing the world through 'white-guilt-colored glasses'. The hypocrisy and cynicism of those who constantly throw out the 'race card' NEEDS to be exposed.

It does not need to be said that Jews did this, Jews did that, arabs and african peoples did that or that, or who certain Popes had it in for, etc etc ad nauseum.

None of that is relevant. It may be of some historical trivial interest, but it is not germane to the discussion people need to be having now. Believe me, no 'black leader' who shouts 'Racism!' at the drop of a hat cares one whit whether Columbus was a Jew or a Mason. Ok? No self-loathing lib cares that templars and popes were at each others' throats hundreds of years ago. What he or she will care about is the American people gaining a firm confidence enough to stand up and say 'No More! We're not going to continue flagellating ourselves for he admittedly bad things done by people long since dead.'

It is disappointing, to say the least, to have to scan through all these comments, and see that the vast majority of them are by one person, and that the vast majority of those comments have nothing to do with the topic at hand. You make it so that no one will even bother reading a post if it has your name on it. That is pretty much the definition of 'marginalization of ones'self.' Surely that is not your intent? Perhaps you ought to exercise a little more judgement and restraint, and just maybe learn about that 'paragraph' thing.

Wimpering Wesley hmmm
It's the details the trivia that paves the road to your front door. Jewish thing is just another example of a group or race of people who have been persecuted, enslaved, destoyed, stepped on over and over. So common ground of pain and alienation, rejection and abuse. What Blacks sufferred through, similar suffering, the common ground of pain. You can fantasize your White guilt, I just don't see the guilt that Dr. Smith is relating to. I see more separation, more discrimination, and now more of the same from the Hispanic invasion.Dr. Smith essay would have been more appropriate 20 years ago, but not now, things have changed, no guilt only anger on both sides. Thankyou for reminding me how limited these discussions can become, not seeing the Masonic ties and the Historical attitudes of slavery and abuse, both the Jew and black have more in common than the guilty White silent majority. Guilt has always been the Territory for Jewish Mother to wade in, I don't see this in Red neck America in the heartland. I don't see it in the big cities either. Just happening

Random word generator?
Is that how you come up with your posts? By using a random-word generator?

Well whatever, it's all wasted breath.

On the other hand, your posts ARE good for one thing:

If anyone has ever been curious as to what it would be like to experience an LSD trip without actually having to TAKE the drug, all one needs to do is try to read one of your meandering psychedelic word-monoliths. The Age of Aquarius never really stopped dawning for you, did it?

TCS Daily Archives