Right Wingers Antagonize And Cross The Line So They Can Make Names For Themselves As A Victim Grifter
I promised myself I wasn’t going to write about the Dr. Biden bullshit this week, and this isn’t going to specifically be about that, but a general piece in response to it. As the narrative played out, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated and annoyed by the response the author of the “Dr. Jill Biden” piece has had to some of the criticism of his editorial.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s a quick roundup. Somebody with the unfortunate last name of Epstein wrote an editorial in The Wall Street Journal that I’m not going to link here because it doesn’t need more oxygen (if you are interested, go find it yourself), in which he suggests that incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden drop the title Dr. from her name, because she holds an educational doctorate a not a medical one. Epstein goes on to explain that he has an honorary doctorate, but doesn’t use the title Dr. because its honorary; then veers into a diatribe completely unrelated to Jill Biden about how “honorary doctorates” and loosening standards are “political correctness” that almost reads like a Rush Limbaugh robot glitching or senile uncle’s neurons misfiring during an “IN MY DAY” speech after he was read for filth by a well-read teenage great-niece at Thanksgiving.
In any event, Epstein has, predictable and justifiably, faced criticism for his editorial, with many feeling it was sexist, anti-intellectual or just plain mean. Supporters of Dr. Biden defended her, noting that there has never been an issue with people who have earned an Ed.D being called “Dr.” For example. Dr. Ruth holds an educational doctorate. The idea that you can compare an Ed.D, which requires a lot of hard work and dedication, to a honorary degree, is insulting, and even if standards are “lesser” than years before, a product, no doubt, of a racist education system, Dr. Biden still worked and earned her title, and deserves respect for it.
For those, like myself, who felt disgusted and offended by Epstein’s editorial, it was mostly about how it seemed completely unfair and random. Why even open up this line of attack on Dr. Biden? Who does it hurt for her to use the title? It’s not as if there are huge numbers of medical doctors objecting to the use of those with Ed. D’s using the title “doctor.” As a matter of fact, a number of medical doctors rushed to the future First Lady’s defense,
So why write it at all?
To be mean. The cruelty, to modern conservatives, is the point. Like all bullies, the idea is to elicit a response, then claim victimhood to the response and turn the tables on the person being bullied. It’s what conservatives have been doing best for decades, and it has been the basis for the “culture wars” and battles against “cancel culture” and “political correctness.”
It’s also corrosive and has the effect of forcing people in certain marginalized groups to feel forced to take abuse, because the alternative is to create an environment where the abuser comes out the victim. A few years ago, a friend of mine who is a transwoman told me about abuse she faced at her job.
She had a coworker who repeatedly misgendered her, on purpose, and would mock her voice and make crude comments about her genitals. The coworker was fired, but upon being fired, he, according to my friend, “seemed almost happy about it.” He bragged about how he’d end up on Joe Rogan’s Podcast because “he loves to hear these stories” and warned about how popular author and professor Jordan Peterson got after criticizing trans issues. A few weeks later, my friend found another job and quit. The coworker that was fired, also got another job, a much better one and now is in a high ranking government position. In the end, she said, it felt like he won.
A similar situation occurred about a year ago, where another friend of mine, also a transwoman, experienced similar abuse. Her tormentor even left Trump paraphernalia around her workspace and signed her up for anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ email lists. When I suggested she tell her boss, she responded, sadly and defeated; “Why? It’ll just get him a speaking slot at the Republican Convention”
She ended up quitting her job.
This is a classic schoolyard bully tactic, similar to what I experienced – and probably many of you will recognize – on the playground in elementary school. Torment, torment, and torment, and when you fight back, the bully claims victimhood and appeals to classmates and teachers. Oftentimes it works. The other classmates and the adults empathize with the bully, even if the don’t approve of his or her message. They seem themselves in him or her; and the bullies are happy to push that along. It’s the schoolyard version of the “First they came for the…” argument. It may be the bully today, but tomorrow, it could be you.
So you get scolded for “stooping to their level” or for “not trying to find a way to deescalate.” It’s typically code for “Can you just live with it? I’m worried if I do something, it will upset a fragile social hierarchy which would threaten me.”
That, my friends, is why Dr. Biden can have her credentials cruelly questioned, and end up the bad guy if she fights that. It’s also why Kayleigh McEnany can lie to your face and defend a guy who called Mexicans “rapists” and mocked war heroes and people with disabilities, but gets airtime to whine about a Biden staffers referring to Trumpers as “fuckers.” That’s why you can be mocked, threatened, demeaned and belittled, but trying to stop it is “political correctness.” The powerful have a right to subjugate the less powerful.
Because America has accepted part of our social fabric is THEY are the bullies and any attempt to fight back, tears at that fabric.