Invisible Victims: White Males and the Crisis of Affirmative Action

By Frederick R. Lynch | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
INVISIBLE VICTIMS: REACTIONS OF CO-WORKERS, FRIENDS, AND RELATIVES

The previous chapter dealt with the individual responses of white males to reverse discrimination situations. This chapter deals with how others responded to those accounts of discrimination. (For more information, see Appendix 3.)

Historically, women and minorities who have encountered discrimination have usually been able to find solace and understanding within their own groups. Depending upon historical circumstances, other victimized groups, the mass media, and society at large might also at least recognize such injuries.

Minorities, women, the poor, and other disadvantaged groups have also benefitted from a recent intellectual imperative in the social sciences and in the mass media against "blaming the victim." Before the late 1960s and early 1970s, Americans tended to judge individuals as responsible for their own fates in a "world of just deserts." The blame for social problems such as poverty lay not with social arrangements, but with flaws in individual character or, perhaps, because "deviant values" had been internalized by groups or individuals. Any remedial action was designed to change the individual, not society. Social programs to help such persons were premised upon the philosophy of "a hand, not a handout."

In 1970, William Ryan influential Blaming the Victim appeared. The book vigorously attacked the "blaming the victim" philosophy and placed the blame for most social ills on inequitable social and economic arrangements. This book, and others like it, were responsible for what Charles Murray has described as a fundamental shift in (liberal) "elite wisdom" of the 1960s and 1970s. Blaming the victim was rejected; blaming

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