As the last few years have illustrated quite clearly, there are a number of groups that face daily discrimination in America. Even when those groups make headway, such as the legalization of gay marriage throughout the country, new battles spring up in their place–like the “bathroom bills” that target transgender individuals or the wave of outspoken xenophobia that has plagued Latinos and Muslims during Donald Trump’s political campaign.
Throughout all of this, one other group has claimed persecution and discrimination at least on par with that faced by African Americans or members of the LGBT+ community. Conservative American Christians claim, and have for some decades now, that discrimination against Christians is rampant in America. A recent survey has found that almost half of all Americans believe that Christians face as much discrimination as other groups. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise to people actively working to help end discrimination, but it seems ironic considering conservative Christians have been at the forefront in the battles to deny rights to LGBT+ people, Muslims, or women seeking bodily autonomy.
This information is important for a couple of reasons. For one, it illustrates how pervasive this sense of victimhood has become. For the oppressor to feel oppressed requires either a willingness to lie about that feeling for their own gain, or an ignorance of what oppression is really like. For most who feel this way, it’s probably the latter, although it is safe to say that there are certainly some who manufacture these feelings as a way to oppress others.
And by convincing the oppressors that they are oppressed by those they discriminate against, people in power can drive further acts of oppression.
The ideal situation going forward is one in which people who feel this way are educated about the reality of the oppression faced by others, by groups which are actually and frequently discriminated against. But getting them to sit down for that lesson is going to be a hard fight.