The Scapegoat Culture

The recent Israeli and Hamas conflict has unearthed some astonishing reactions, especially from students and faculty at many of the country’s colleges and universities.  It has opened the eyes of many, perhaps much to their astonishment. Radical thinking in higher education is nothing new, but what is different from the past is the direct support for terrorists who do not recognize civilized norms of war by killing babies and women.

In his latest article, Victor Davis Hanson, an academic, claims these institutions, as the seedbed of these immoral notions, should be defunded until they reform because they no longer produce a common good for society by having educated citizens. He contends, “In sum, if exorbitantly priced higher education can no longer produce either a class of broadly educated citizens, or an empirically-trained and elite scientific, professional, and technological class, then why would Americans any longer put up with universities’ unapologetic indoctrination—a sort of interference with the university’s mission so reminiscent of the disastrous Russian commissar system that had nearly destroyed the Red Army at the outset of World War II?”

One can argue that indoctrination on college campuses is one of the driving forces for so many young students and their lack of moral clarity, but it can’t be the only reason.  How can anyone born with the gift of conscience not be disturbed by immoral practices such as slaughtering innocent children and babies?  

There are only two ways in which this can happen. The first reason is a repeated sinful life turning off the conscience to do what it was intended to do. When the conscience is ignored after sinning, any subsequent evil acts, if too ignored, become less recognizable as transgressions, and in essence, the conscience atrophies.

The other way a person can be swayed to support immoral actions is the conscience is malformed to accept evil as good. It stems from the progressive viewpoint infiltrating culture for some time. This secular humanistic philosophy uses scapegoats to provide cover for evil while exonerating the individual from any personal responsibility. It attracts people with jettisoned religious beliefs and practices because they do not have to answer to a higher power or care for their neighbor.  

The scapegoat mentality posits someone or something else is to blame. Rarely spoken about is the scapegoat practice extends to many of the immoral cultural woes we now experience. Advocates for the abortion industry promote the explanation of murder as reproductive healthcare instead of what it is: the immoral termination of human life. The premise of abortion as healthcare stipulates a pregnant woman is absolved from having any personal responsibility because her predicament is not her fault, only a quirk of nature. Nature, the scapegoat, is to blame and not her choices. The same holds for the transgender movement, accusing nature again for their alleged inclinations of which they have no power.

More than just personal responsibility, it also extends to societal structures by explaining failures through the same lens. The prevalent cultural notion of having a blind eye to the breakdown of the family and children born out of wedlock is not the reason for societal and economic demise in communities but rather a system that causes the collapse, namely racism. The poor goat is taking on a lot of misguided guilt.    

If there is always a scapegoat to take the blame for this or that, then the conscience isn’t needed, and the malformation takes place. The blaming game not only happens on a personal level but is often extended to global issues. The present war in the Middle East and the response of Hamas supporters strongly indicate that the scapegoating dynamic as a means of moral evaluation has permeated deeply into our culture. Again, this will inevitably happen when faith and belief in God precipitously drop.   

The protestors on college campuses, where the belief in God is ridiculed, support barbaric practices, and the lack of moral acuity come as no great surprise. The lack of remorse for one’s sins and the need for forgiveness gives way to a secular and humanistic culture that consistently places culpability in someone else or something else.

Victor Davis Hanson urges a reform in higher education in light of the protests against Israel. Although his thoughts are enlightening, his approach seems to put the cart before the horse. For real reform to take root in colleges and elsewhere, the culture has to honor and defend a return to a personal responsibility model and free the scapegoat to pasture. It has to start in the home, and the Church needs to make it a pressing need through preaching and practice. If only a tiny percentage of people believed in personal responsibility and lived it, what a tremendous impact it would have.  


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