Berkeley Antifa has targeted a new enemy — a soft-spoken Asian member of the student government named Isabella Chow, the daughter of Malaysian-Cambodian immigrants who campaigned on a platform of representing “Cal’s Christian community.”
What was Senator Chow’s crime? She abstained from a student resolution condemning the Trump administration’s proposal to restore the original intent of the word “sex” in Title IX to mean “biological sex.” (The Obama administration had unilaterally redefined “sex” to include sexual orientation and gender identity.)
Outraged by this affirmation of scientific fact, the student senate introduced a resolution urging the university to increase its support for “transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students.” The resolution was supported by all the senators except one — Isabella Chow.
She did not attack or criticize anyone. She simply abstained. In a statement, she spoke out against bullying and discrimination (it “is never, ever OK”). She offered “love and compassion,” writing:
My God is one who assigns immeasurable value and desires to love each and every human being. In God’s eyes and therefore my own, every one of you here today and in the LGBTQ+ community as a whole is significant, valid, wanted, and, loved — even if and when our views differ.
“That said,” Chow went on, “I believe that God created male and female at the beginning of time, and designed sex for marriage between one man and one woman.” Thus “I cannot vote for this bill without compromising my values and my responsibility to the community that elected me to represent them.”
Backlash was immediate and virulent.
Chow was lambasted for “bigotry” and “hate.” Her campus political party repudiated her. A petition was circulated demanding that she resign from student government or face a recall. A school senate meeting packed with hundreds of students harangued her for three hours. The student newspaper denounced her, then refused to allow her to publish a response.
Teddy Lake, the student who introduced the resolution for the Queer Alliance and Resource Center, declared himself offended that Chow would actually ask the senate to “respect her ‘beliefs’ as she does ours.” His contemptuous reply was, “what Senator Chow expressed tonight were not beliefs at all — they were hateful prejudices that deserve nothing less than the strongest condemnation.”
On Twitter, Antifa denounced what it calls “Chow’s horribly homophobic and transphobic ideas” and her “disgusting position.”
The animus against Chow is so fierce that the university canceled her piano recital, worried that protesters would disrupt it. She told me that friends walk with her around campus for safety, especially since Antifa joined the attack — a group with a documented penchant for fascist-style violence (using tactics pioneered by the actual fascist storm-troopers of Weimar Germany).
Why is it is deemed acceptable to attack Chow’s statement as homophobic, disgusting, hateful, and prejudiced — when even the San Francisco Chronicle described it as “politely worded”?
Today it’s not enough to be polite and civil. You must affirm and submit or be vilified as an enemy of the people.
Sociologist Bradley Campbell, coauthor of “The Rise of Victimhood Culture,” explains that campuses have succumbed to a movement that divides people into victims versus oppressors. Because Christians have historically been a dominant force in Western society, they are labeled “oppressors” (even when they are a minority, as they are on the Berkeley campus). As a result, they are cast as villains — no matter if they demonstrate love and compassion.
By contrast, “victims” are, by definition, virtuous and must be handled with kid gloves lest they be offended. As Campbell explains, “One of the shibboleths of victimhood culture is that it’s okay to offend the oppressors but not the oppressed.” It’s perfectly acceptable to show “wrath toward oppressors.”
Victimhood culture is genuinely new. No other known society has claimed moral authority on the basis of victim status. Where did it come from?
Its roots are in cultural Marxism, the imposition of Marxist categories on all of culture.
In classic Marxism, the driving force in history is economic — the struggle between capitalists (oppressors) and the proletariat (oppressed). Cultural Marxism foists the same martyr mentality on race, sex, ethnicity, sexuality, gender — the list keeps growing. True believers are urged to develop class consciousness (become aware of yourself as a suffering victim), then rise up against the oppressors.
Marxism has been called a Christian heresy because of its religious overtones: Its counterpart to the Garden of Eden is the state of primitive communism. Its version of the fall into sin — the source of evil and oppression — is the creation of private property. And the “redeemer” is the proletariat, who will rise up against the capitalist oppressors and usher in a Marxist paradise: the classless society. Historian Robert Wesson writes, “The savior proletariat [will], by its suffering, redeem mankind, and bring the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.”
Were it not a parody of Christianity, victimhood culture would never have gotten off the ground. Of all the world’s major religions, only Christianity attests to a God who suffers on behalf of people, who becomes a victim of violence as a means of redemption. The Christian ethic has always called for compassion for the oppressed, the marginalized, the outcast.
By misappropriating these classic Christian themes for their own political agenda, ironically, today’s “victims” are now creating new forms of oppression.
Senator Chow told me that long-time friends have turned against her, and Antifa’s involvement raises the threat level. Yet she refuses to resign, saying, “if I do, there will be no one else to represent the voices that are ignored and misunderstood on campus.”
Those outside what she calls “the Berkeley bubble” now have a responsibility to support her in challenging its victim/villain culture. Activists like Antifa who claim victimhood status are rapidly revealing themselves to be the new oppressors.
Nancy Pearcey is professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University and editor-at-large of the Pearcey Report. Her most recent book is Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life & Sexuality.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.