Friday, June 6, 2014

Blaming the victim

By now, we should be inured to the capacity of the right wingnuts in our country to blame victims for the problems and tragedies they experience. This is most famously done, of course, in regard to poor people.

For the self-righteous wingnuts, the poverty of the poor is all their own fault. They are lazy. They are uneducated - because they refuse to be educated. They think the world owes them a living and they should just be able to sit back and collect it, while they get high on alcohol or other drugs. The wingnuts believe that the poor should not receive any help from the rest of us through the government. They are responsible for their own poverty and must pull themselves up by their own bootstraps without any assistance.

We see it also in their attitudes toward women and their health care. Rape victims were asking for it. Women seeking abortions must be forced to give birth. Women are not competent to make decisions about their own lives and their own bodies. And, no, they certainly do not deserve pay for their work that is equal to that of men.

The list seems endless. Anytime there is any person or any group of people in trouble or disadvantaged in some way, the knee-jerk reaction of many on the right seems to be to stand back and point fingers in blame at that person or group of people. Compassion and empathy were never their strong points.

So, I guess we shouldn't have been surprised at their reaction to the POW swap that freed Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Nevertheless, I was.

I would never have expected that they would be furious over the release of an American soldier who volunteered for service, was sent to fight in Afghanistan, and subsequently fell into the hands of the Taliban there and remained in captivity for five long years. The idea that we should have left him to die there seems to me to be just another extension of that vicious impulse to blame the victim.

There is much that is not known about the circumstances of Bergdahl's capture by the Taliban. We know that prior to being captured he had walked away from his unit on a couple of occasions and had returned. We know that he expressed concerns about the attitudes of Americans toward the Afghanis.

We also know that he was only 23 years old when he was captured. We know that twice during the five years of his captivity he escaped, once remaining on the loose for three days before he was recaptured, after fighting strenuously to resist. There also seems to be substantial evidence that his health was deteriorating rapidly in captivity.

Bowe Bergdahl, then, became just another victim of the long, long war in Afghanistan, a war that should have been ended years ago. In that context, I guess it isn't surprising at all that the right wingnuts would do their best to demonize this victim. Not surprising, just despicable.

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