The Difference between Persecution and Being Corrected

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Ralph Waldo Emerson once said:

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” – Porte, Joel (ed.), Emerson in His Journals (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982), 206 (entry for Nov. 8, 1838).

I’ve said in the past (here and here and here) that “there is a difference between persecution and the loss of privileged status”.

Emerson’s quote echoes the same sentiment, and it applies to everything from conservative Evangelicals bemoaning the enforcement of the separation of church and state, to Muslim fundamentalists bemoaning new secular democracies, to pseudoarchaeologists whining when it is pointed out to them that their claims are completely bogus and factually unfounded.

Put simply:

There is a difference between persecution and the loss of privileged status.
There is a difference between persecution and being corrected of an error.
There is a difference between persecution and being wrong.

Christian "oppression"

U.S. religious breakdown

Demonstrating that a claim is false and suggesting an ulterior motive for the debunked claim is not a “personal attack”. It is the scientific method.

Just because you didn’t get what you want doesn’t mean that you are “persecuted”. It means you can’t have everything.

Just because facts and evidence demonstrated your claim to be untrue doesn’t mean that you are “persecuted”. It just means you were wrong.

Just because you got outvoted by a majority in a democratic election does not mean you are “persecuted”. It means you got outvoted.

Just because you can no longer rely on a previously enjoyed advantage does not mean that you are “persecuted”. It simply means that existing laws are now being enforced and you can no longer pretend they don’t apply to you because you are part of a previously privileged group.

The above situations are not examples of “persecution”. They are simply examples of people who used to get their way, who no longer get their way. Claiming “persecution” in these situations is merely an attempt to invoke victim status against those who previously were victimized.

While persecution (especially religious and ethnic persecution) is very real (like this and this and this and this), most in the American majority have never experienced real persecution. Childhood playground teasing aside, at most they’ve likely only experienced the loss of a previously held advantage.

But that doesn’t mean that the formerly privileged won’t pretend to be victims when they stop getting their way.

"Religious Freedom"

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