No matter where your social leanings might be, and no matter what your political stripes, nobody can deny that there is good money in being a "sympathetic victim."
This article is NOT intended to minimize, in any way, the plight of genuine victims. Your humble author realizes that his approach to this normally delicate subject may offend some of his subscribers and other readers. But an indisputable truth is that there is a tremendous amount of money in what some might call the "victim industry" in the 21st century.
The economic aftermath of 9/11 taught us many things, among which was that our economy can be dramatically affected by our sense of security. But two key events occurred which perhaps most prompted our financial attention shortly after 9/11:
- Our caution in spending any money due to our concern about the stability of the economy and its ability to adapt to a new world that involved war on our own soil;
- Our unswerving and overwhelming feeling of sympathy for the families of those who perished in the attacks.
Regarding #2, billions and billions of dollars were donated in various charities ostensibly set up to give benefits to the survivors of the over 3,000 victims of 9/11. So much money was given that, in one fund, over $7.1 billion (yes, that's BILLION) dollars were accumulated by a fund established by Congress known as the "September 11 Victim Compensation Fund of 2001." An estimated $15 billion total has been donated for these victims.
Divide $15 billion by 3,000, and each family gets $5 million.
This shows the compassionate nature of Americans. It also demonstrates that there is BIG money in the "Sympathetic Victim" industry.
As insensitive as it may appear to even broach the subject, we all must realize that there are many, many people who make their living in this industry. Many of these people are good people, sincerely attempting to ensure that true victims deserve redress. But as with any charitable fund, there will always be questions about just how much of the donations actually make it to the victims.
The Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have spent decades tirelessly promoting the plight of African Americans. And from a media perspective, if judged by the amount of media coverage that African American victims have received, few could dispute that the "title" of "Most Sympathetic Victims" would go to African Americans. The genuine civil-rights struggles led by Martin Luther King, Jr., whom we commemorate today, are frequently evoked with accompanying anecdotes controversially alleging the same racism in 2014 that existed in 1964. They are controversial because many believe that the same institutional racism of 1964 doesn't exist, at least at the same level and intensity, today. Yet the anecdotes are frequently shared. And with them is money, in one form or another.
The last several years have shown a surging in media stories portraying gay victims. These stories seem to coincide with the recent movement in several states to legalize gay marriage. Many of these stories appear to be saccharin-sweet anecdotes of individuals portrayed as having overcome overwhelming systemic bigotry in order to be able to marry. This leads some to the question of whether gays have now taken over the title of "Most Sympathetic Victims" from African Americans.
Again, I realize that some of the individuals portrayed in various media anecdotes are, indeed, truly victims, and I do not intend to minimize their plights.
But speaking as a former newspaper publisher, I can say that the ever-present content-delivery mantra of "if it bleeds, it leads" is still an axiom in the media industry. In other words, media producers know fully well that the disproportionate reporting of certain stories piques current American sensibilities, and affects money flow.
And the string that ties these sensibilities over the years is always the ever-compassionate American perception that some people are "Sympathetic Victims."
So watch the media, and activists, for attempts to portray certain groups as "Most Sympathetic Victims" in 2014. The media certainly won't call them "Most Sympathetic Victims." But you will recognize the stories when you see them. They are published daily.
And watch how the money will flow disproportionately to the charities set up to benefit these victims.