Victimization and the Media: Osama Bin Laden is No Hero

by | May 9, 2011

Dear Dr. Hurd, Is it just me? I am getting the strangest impression that our media is slowly, but oh-so-surely, trying to convince an easily convinced and swayed American public that bin Laden is actually something of a hero…one who was mercilessly gunned down by the American baddies. How about the 12-year-old boy who was […]

Dear Dr. Hurd, Is it just me? I am getting the strangest impression that our media is slowly, but oh-so-surely, trying to convince an easily convinced and swayed American public that bin Laden is actually something of a hero…one who was mercilessly gunned down by the American baddies. How about the 12-year-old boy who was his neighbor, a picture plastered on the AOL headlines. And, oh, was poor little bin Laden armed, or was the poor thing defenseless? I did hear comments to the effect that as he went down, he grabbed his wife as a shield. But more often I am hearing concerns that the attack was just, you know, unfair, the whole sordid 38-minute attack. Poor, poor bin Laden. Will you set me straight, please?

Dr. Hurd replies: I am tired of complaining about politicians, and I’m tired of complaining about the media. Someone hires politicians and media. Someone bankrolls them. Who? Consumers who willingly buy into all of their toxic, torpid nonsense. Those of us who consider that nonsense toxic and torpid are obviously a minority; otherwise, it would not all continue to sell.

Yes, the media is focused on making victimizers look like victims, according to their often anti-American, self-hating and generally leftist worldview. But the issue runs deeper than that. The media is not guilty of a “left-wing conspiracy” so much as a desire to make victimizers look like victims. Victimization sells. If even one of the most obvious victimizers in all of human history can be turned into a victim — well, so be it. The people love victims, and it sells.

The outrage here isn’t what the media is doing. The media is still a private market. We don’t, at least yet, have state-run news or government-controlled media (although Obama and the FCC are working on it, rest assured.)

Why does victimization sell? Even when conveyed in such an outrageous manner? That’s the question. You provide a clue to this in your own question when you refer to “an easily convinced and swayed American public.” That’s a beautiful phrase which reflects an ugly fact. Most Americans are too easily swayed and convinced.

Actually, “convinced” is too dignified a term to apply to the average person. This implies minds which operate by some measure of reason, facts and logic. It’s clear that when it comes to cultural and political matters, no such thing is true of most people these days. Think about it. The same people who elected (and are poised to re-elect) a “President Obama” and who worship at the altar of Oprah’s culture of victimization are by definition people who don’t require all that much to be swayed. What they require is some kind of appeal to emotion.

As for any innocent children caught in the crossfire, why does America get the blame for this? Why don’t the actions of terrorists and the religion that inspires and commands them to arm even their children get at least SOME of the blame? No answer is given, because the question is never — and never will be — asked.

What kind of emotion appeals to most Americans, making stories such as the “victimization” of Osama bin Laden tenable in the marketplace? Anything that appeals to the sense in people that they are helpless victims, powerless over their lives and destinies. It’s not that most Americans aren’t glad that Obama was captured and even killed. Most would not vote for reversing that outcome. But now that he’s gone, these same sorts of Americans … well, feel kind of sorry for the man. And they feel sorry for others around him. This is all the product of an idea. The idea can best be summed up in the phrase, “Don’t judge.” The greatest sin one can commit in American culture today is to “judge.” To be against judging someone as bad or evil contradicts cheering the death of an evil terrorist. After all, if we’re not supposed to judge, then by what means or right do we cheer the death of Osama bin Laden?

As much as I go out of my way to tune out Barack Obama, I’d love to hear him comment on this one. Obama is the product of the very cultural, moralistic establishment which promotes this idea that all judgment is bad and wrong. The very media that creates sympathy for Osama bin Laden and other terrorists is the same media that has elevated Obama to the status of savior for humankind. Oprah herself, the Queen of all things victimization, used her influence to launch Obama’s candidacy in the first place. I’d love to hear Barack Obama comment on this question: “Barack, why are you excited about the death of Osama bin Laden? Why is it such a great thing that you’re eager to take credit for? After all, you have said in speeches throughout the world that America is too arrogant, is not exceptional, and no more deserving of praise for what it brought the world than any other country?”

While Barack Obama hasn’t ever come out in favor of terrorism or murder, he certainly shares one thing in common with the terrorist he just captured and killed: A firm belief in the need for America to be put down a notch. Obama has done everything in his presidency to date to do so. He has gone on a “world apology tour,” implying that America is to blame for most if not all of the terrorism against it. He has proposed trying terrorists in civilian courts, and he has supported building monuments to the supreme religion of terrorism (Islam) on the very site where the worst attacks, in the name of that religion, took place. Why now, all of a sudden, is it a good thing that the biggest name associated with terrorism was killed — by the American military, no less?

Obama will never give an answer. And his supporters in the media will never make him do so, because 90 percent of them are too left-wing to ever consider questioning their guy in Washington. But even to the media, there are more important things than left-wing politics, and one of those things is what they consider the virtue of being a victim. They know their readers and listeners largely agree.

The worst thing about these stories is that the cult of victimization sells. Deep down, most people identify with the victims. This has reached such a point that even an obvious victimizer, one of the most obvious of all, garners a certain amount of sympathy for getting exactly what he deserved.

In a world where all judgment is bad, human beings still must make decisions and take action. That’s why Osama bin Laden was hunted, captured and killed. But the false, guilt-inducing belief that “all judgment is bad” always rises to the surface, even in a case like this one. America might have caught and killed the bad guy. But the pernicious ideas that gave rise to his destructive influence are alive, well and growing.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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