Untimely Observations

The Hero As Victim


Steve Sailer has an even more than usually insightful piece up at VDare on "That Texas Schoolbook Massacre" -- you know, the Texas Board of Education's recent "challenge to the Left's post-1960s dominion over the past" -- in which he takes a close look at one prominent example of the sort of high school "history" text that the "Texas Taliban" wants to replace.

The whole article is so good that one hates to single out just one thing, but I was particularly struck by Sailer's point that, over the past century, "heroes of suffering" have replaced "heroes of accomplishment" in the American imagination -- a point that he attributes to the formidable Gregory Cochran.

So the likes of John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, William Shockley, Robert Noyce, Jack Kilby, Claude Shannon, James Watson, Francis Crick, Raymond Spruance, Clarence Wade McClusky, Max Leslie, Clifton Sprague, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, and even the Wright brothers, fade into obscurity, while the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman and Susan B. Anthony crowd to the front of the educationist bus. Would it be mischievous for me to suggest that this interesting phenomenon represents the ultimate triumph of the Christian aspect of our Western cultural inheritance over both the Greco-Roman and the Germanic aspects? So far as I can determine, neither the Greeks, nor the Romans, nor the Germanic tribes ever regarded the victims of history with anything but contempt. They were champions of achievement -- especially military achievement. If any of them ever lost any sleep over the sufferings of the losers, I have yet to hear about it. But the deification of the victim -- God on the Cross -- lies at the very heart of Christianity.

Vicisti, Galilaee.