Education Montana Politics

Victimhood and the Right Wing

Shares

Anyone else remember when conservatives carefully cultivated an image of being tough? Sure, that was illusory–things like World War II movie ‘veteran’ Ronald Reagan, but you could reliably count on conservatives appealing to ‘manly’ values like stoicism and personal responsibility.

Of late, that seems to have changed, especially among social conservatives, who often seek to paint themselves as victims. Whether it is prayer in school or claims about victimization in the media, conservatives are increasingly relying on creating an image of martyrdom to get their message across.
This transformation is demonstrated pretty clearly by a letter to the editor in IR today about the Board of Public Education’s action on bullying. The author, Dallas Erickson, head of Montana Help Our Moral Environment, Inc. (worst name ever?) had this to say:

The bullying policy does include “sexual orientation” and does not include many other categories. Historically when that happens in America, the ones that receive the bullying are those who are opposed to homosexuality.
The board is going against their own lobbyists who opposed adding classifications in any policy because it gives a heads up to the students and teachers about who can legally be bullied. In an attempt to cover their favorite classification they have left many vulnerable.

Some good points, except for being entirely wrong. As a classroom teacher, I can’t say that I have ever noticed much ‘bullying’ of students for perceived heterosexuality. Bullying, harassment, and even violence associated with mere perception of homosexuality is still an all-too common experience in our schools, and for right-wing ideologues, consumed with hatred for gay people, playing the victim card when students are suffering is about as genuine and convincing as Ronald Reagan’s wartime effort.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

9 Comments

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

  • I think it comes from a refusal to really understand what part the majority plays in oppression and privilege. They hear about being oppressed and look for it in the context of their own (basically) oppression-free lives. So then they claim they’re being oppressed by being proven wrong or by not finding a pair of left-handed scissors in the drawer.

  • “Historically when that happens in America, the ones that receive the bullying are those who are opposed to homosexuality.”

    I like how there are no examples presented in the letter. Can you think of any? Is calling somebody a “bigot” really bullying? Calling you a Nazi is bullying, certainly, but not calling somebody on their heterosexist biases.

    “The board is going against their own lobbyists who opposed adding classifications in any policy because it gives a heads up to the students and teachers about who can legally be bullied.”

    This is not really going to happen. The bullying policy says we can’t be cruel to anyone, especially the minority groups. Without the protection of minorities, where is the safety in a school environment? And without safety, how can students learn? I can show that there is definitely a problem with homophobia nationwide and it needs to be solved. The following statistics ultimately affect everyone.

    School Violence:

    75% of people committing hate crimes are under age 30 – one in three are under 18 – and some of the most pervasive anti-gay violence occurs in schools. –New York Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Report, 1996.

    Drop-Out Rates

    The Vermont Board of Education released a report in 1997 that said, “gay-identified students are seven times more likely than others
    to have been threatened or injured with a weapon.” Two years earlier, the Massachusetts Board of Education concluded that gay students are far more likely to skip school because they feel unsafe. The report cited 22 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual students who reported they skipped school because of safety concerns, compared to four percent of heterosexual students who reported the same.

%d bloggers like this: