United and the Cult of Victimization

From Michael Fumento:

You’ve been snookered, folks. By that poor elderly doctor who was involuntarily dragged from his seat, had his face smashed in, and was beaten unconscious by the evil airport security at the behest of United Airlines.

Because there’s no evidence any of that was true. It was in fact a premeditated temper tantrum gone viral, featuring one 69-year-old Vietnamese-American David Dao, a medical doctor who’d lost his license, planning a lawsuit from the moment United first politely asked him to give up his seat. He demanded to be dragged and, when police obliged, struck his lip on an armrest. From the many videos taken by numerous passengers, from numerous angles, there’s no evidence of a beating, a “serious” concussion, or bodily damage beyond that lip.

Although some like the Huffington Post want us to ignore his sordid past as inconsequential or “blaming the victim,” it’s important that Dao in 1995 was charged with 98 felony drug counts for illegally prescribing and trafficking painkillers, sometimes in exchange for homosexual sex. (He’s married. To a woman.) That normally would get you identified as unreliable. He surrendered his medical license and even now is allowed to practice internal medicine only in an outpatient facility one day a week.

To be sure, United deserves blame and played into Dao’s hands—not entirely a metaphor since the good doctor has also made hundreds of thousands of dollars on the professional poker circuit. It appears that by law they were supposed to have upped the payment to $1,350 to make room for four United employees who needed to get to Louisville right away. Why did they stop at $800 (plus a hotel voucher)? Further, this all should have occurred before boarding, but there passengers apparently were only offered $400.

“It’s clearly the man’s fault that security had to drag him off, said one of the passengers who uploaded his video of the incident. He was resisting.” “I don’t blame the security guards at all,” he told Fox News. That was “the only way they could get him off the plane.”

But once he was asked to give up his seat, along with three other passengers who willingly obliged, Dao’s mental gears began to whirl. One video depicts him telling someone by telephone “I make lawsuit against United Airlines for discrimination.” Yet another video shows him insisting that he be dragged. All the while he held up the departure, as indeed he would again as everyone had to leave while the blood was cleaned up.

Over time his injuries have grown dramatically. He checked himself into a hospital where first he, then one of the lawyers from the two law firms he’s retained, claimed he suffered from “everything.” Curious diagnosis, that. Though none of the videos show it, he also claims to have lost two front teeth, a broken nose, and a “serious” concussion. Obviously, this all appeared off camera, after he left the plane. One of his lawyers repeated that curious diagnosis. (He’s retained not one but two Chicago-area law firms. Natch.)

Except that … he came back on the plane, melodramatically uttering over and over again, “They’ll kill me.” He clearly showed bleeding from the lip, but there was no other evident damage.

This is obvious nonsense, so how did he get so far with it?

In part, welcome to the world of the Black Mirror. That’s a highly-regarded Netflix series about a dystopian near-future in which social media dictates “the truth.” The name refers to a blank cell phone or tablet screen.

The Sturm und Drang began with a short clip uploaded first to Facebook and then other media. It began just as Dao was pulled from his seat. You didn’t see him being apologetically requested to leave first by United employees and then by security. Nor the phone call nor his daring to be dragged. With social media, he who uploads or tweets first dictates the story.

Now add the opposite of the laugh track, the scream track. Several passengers yelling “Omigawd!” and chiding the security guards. Laugh tracks tell us “This is funny; laugh!” Scream tracks tell us “This is horrible! Be outraged!”

With social media dictating what’s news, the event became clickbait (“Must See Pictures of United Passenger!”) and the mainstream-media “analysts” jumped in. It was easy to choose sides given the Sarah Bernhardt performance and the perceived American loathing of airlines. Part of this is the result of 9/11 restrictions, but part is due to consolidations that have given many airlines monopolies on routes and let them do such things as charge us for pretzels and squeeze us into tiny spaces that only a chiropractor could love. (Curiously, while only 35 percent of Americans rate U.S. airlines positively, only 32 percent rate them negatively, according to Gallup. So there seems to be a whole lot of ambivalence.)

The London Independent went so far as to say Dao’s life was “ruined,” while one of his team of attorneys asserted Dao “said that being dragged down the aisle was more horrifying and harrowing than what he experienced when leaving Vietnam.” By tomorrow it will be worse than having been gassed at Auschwitz.

But part of the phenomenon long precedes YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and social media dictating the news. It’s the American cult of victimization.

Thirteen years ago I penned a column called “Victims Are Our New Heroes,” noting that at one time that meant putting yourself at risk by going beyond normal civic or military duties. Yet Magic Johnson went from “sports hero” (another misnomer) to All-American Hero by virtue of contracting AIDS. That simple.

Dao’s quick thinking and theatrics show he knows how to play the system as well as he knows how to play cards, combining social media and the cult of victimization into what presumably will be a very hefty payout for a very dishonest man

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Dead Souls

From VDH:

Although information is still too sketchy to draw any comprehensive conclusions (other than that the Boston killings are not, as recently suggested, fall out from sequestration, the NRA, lack of gun control, climate change, right-wing tea-party zealots, etc.), there emerges a familiar profile to the suspects that we have seen before. In articles in 2002 and 2007, I touched on the dangers of isolated Islamic-driven terrorists without direct connections to organized terrorist networks, calling it a sort of “al-Qaedism.”

In other word, single and usually young American resident males, often originating from the Muslim world (and not always from the Arab Middle East), sometimes citizens, sometimes resident aliens, can at some point not square the circle of being attracted to American popular culture, often failing to assimilate or succeed in the United States, and ostensibly seeking to remain (or return to being) a devout Muslim that alone gives them moral redemption and guidance.

The result is a dead soul who kills the vulnerable and innocent, and who is a psychological and social mess: consumed by fury at the country that embraced him in extremis, coupled with romance toward the country he or his family fled (and no longer has to endure), and a reliance upon, and yet lack of respect for, the tolerant liberal culture that allows him a freedom of action impossible in the land of his birth.

Like some, I question the standard American conceit that ignorance of the U.S. explains anti-American behavior in the Islamic world. It often seems just as likely the very opposite case: The more Islamists are exposed to our affluence, popular culture, informality, self-critique, lack of hierarchy, sexual liberality, tolerance of homosexuality, parity between the sexes, and tolerance of all religious observance, and see that such American values may contribute to the world’s attraction to the United States, the more they end up hating it, not the least because of fears that America’s nature erodes one’s own zealotry.

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Inconvenient Truth

From John Podhoretz:

While in Israel, Mitt Romney said something every sane person knows to be true: There is great cultural and political meaning in the fact that Israel has prospered while the Palestinians have festered.

“Culture,” Romney said, “makes all the difference . . . you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality.”

He didn’t specify what he meant by “culture,” but you can take your pick.

You want a political culture that works to create conditions under which an economy can thrive? Since signing the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, Israel has spent two decades working to unshackle its economy from its socialist roots, with remarkable results.

The Palestinians? They’ve created what the House Foreign Affairs Committee has called a “chronic kleptocracy,” with foreign aid and investment shamelessly stolen and diverted to the bank accounts of the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and its gangsterish local strongmen.

According to Jim Zanotti of the Congressional Research Service, Uncle Sam has given the Palestinians $5 billion since 1994. We might as well have lit a match to most of it. It hasn’t gotten to the people who might’ve used it best; it’s simply served as personal financial lubricant for the folks in power.

You want a healthy social culture? The Middle East Media Research Institute has spent decades detailing the diseased messages emanating from Palestinian TV and textbooks, instructing children in the glories of suicide terrorism against innocent Israelis.

You want a culture where citizens are free to express themselves and so live in the openness necessary to the functioning of a successful economy? Israel has a free press, much of it openly hostile to the parties in power. The Palestinian Authority has arrested and tortured critical journalists, as well as conducted denial-of-service attacks against Web sites reporting on corruption.

And this doesn’t even take into account Hamas, the radical terror group in charge of Gaza. It, too, has lived parasitically, sucking the life out of the Palestinian economy.

In 1993, pre-Oslo, the GDP in the territories was $2.9 billion, according to the World Bank. In 2011, it was something like $10.5 billion — a small increase when you consider population growth.

In Israel, the GDP has risen from $66 billion in 1993 to a stunning $243 billion in 2011 — per capita, from $12,500 to $31,000.

[…]

So Romney said Israel has done better than the areas under Palestinian control because Israeli culture is healthier. That’s not only true, it’s a necessary thing to say — because the refusal to say it and accept it contributes to the continuing immiseration and unfreedom of the Palestinians themselves.

Of course, for saying this, Romney was called a “racist” by Saeb Erakat, the longtime slavering lackey of every Palestinian murderer and thief. Erakat blames “occupation” for Palestinian poverty. But the PA has dominion over almost all of the West Bank and Hamas has control over all of Gaza, so the word “occupation” is all but meaningless — except as shorthand for “Israel still holds Jerusalem.”

Erakat’s nonsense was to be expected. But what of how that repugnant lackey’s words were then shamefully echoed by slavering US media lackeys — of the Obama re-election effort?

Dan Amira in New York magazine spoke for much of the press corps with an item titled “Mitt Romney Insults Whole New International Populace.” He wrote: “After he enraged the British by suggesting that their Olympics might not be as awesome as his Olympics, Romney moved on to Israel, where he appeared to blame Palestinian poverty in part on . . . the territory’s inferior culture.”

It does have an inferior political culture. Romney spoke the truth. And it wasn’t a gaffe — because anyone who publicizes his remark is helping Romney win the election. Even those who foolishly think they’re hurting him.

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Plain Talk

From Thomas Sowell:

Someone at long last has had the courage to tell the plain, honest truth about race.

After mobs of young blacks rampaged through Philadelphia committing violence — as similar mobs have rampaged through Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee, and other places — Philadelphia’s black mayor, Michael A. Nutter, ordered a police crackdown and lashed out at the whole lifestyle of those who perpetrate these crimes.

“Pull up your pants and buy a belt, ’cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt,” he said. “If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you ’cause you look like you’re crazy,” the mayor said. He added: “You have damaged your own race.”

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Confessions of a Cultural Drop-out

A poignant essay from Victor Davis Hanson and some poignant comments from his readers:

16. JamesA:

I feel like Edward Grey sometimes. The lights seem to be going out all over Western culture, and I wonder if they will be lit again in my lifetime. The boomers’ lifelong goal of completely obliterating their parents’ world is nearing completion.

It may be that people like you and I are doing the right thing by withdrawing. We are the monks cloistering ourselves in our monasteries with our Latin texts ahead of the coming darkness preserving the old knowledge for the better days that will surely come. And unlike those medieval monks, we have the world’s libraries at our fingertips and the samizdat of the web to connect us in our isolation.

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

and

36. Robert Curry:

The American who loves his country is, must be, alienated from American popular culture in the Obama era.

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Johann Sebastian Repels

From Theodore Dalrymple:

Staying recently in a South Yorkshire town called Rotherham—described in one guidebook as “murky,” an inadequate word for the place—I was interested to read in the local newspaper how the proprietors of some stores are preventing hooligans from gathering outside to intimidate and rob customers. They play Bach over loudspeakers, and this disperses the youths in short order; they flee the way Count Dracula fled before holy water, garlic flowers, and crucifixes.

Entire essay here