From The Ramparts
Junious Ricardo Stanton
Michael Vick and Other Scapegoats
Scapegoat: an individual or group that is the object of blame or displaced aggression-Dictionary of Psychology
On August 13th, the Philadelphia Eagles football team signed former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick to a one year contract with an option for a second year. Vick had been released from federal prison after serving eighteen months of a two year sentence on charges of cruelty to animals and running an illegal dog fighting gambling operation. Vick, a talented athlete ,was subsequently reinstated and deemed to be eligible to play professional football by NFL Commissioner Roger Godell. The signing of Vick raised the ire of many “animal lovers”. in the Philadelphia region. The controversy clearly broke along racial and cultural lines pro and con Vick’s signing by the Eagles. Many whites opposed the deal while blacks generally were happy for Vick and the Eagles.
Keep in mind, Europeans love their dogs. Whites have a long history with dogs beginning with their domestication of the canine in the Steppe region and caves of Eurasia. In the cultural and historic background of whites, dogs have played an integral part in their existence. In fact whites have a saying “a dog is man’s best friend”. Needless to say many dog lovers were outraged by Vick returning to the NFL. Some white Eagles fans are upset with the team for signing him. In my view, this controversy and the venom spewed against Vick seems totally out of proportion to these people’s lack of indignation concerning so many other current events and issues. As usual the media is using this to create controversy and a diversion to avoid covering more important matters. There aren’t that many hard core dog lovers out there to warrant the amount of coverage they have given this story.
It dawned on me, it’s not about Michael Vick or what he did to some dogs although whites do love themselves some dogs. Michael Vick is being used as a scapegoat. Many of you are familiar with the Biblical ritual of scapegoating where two identical goats would be presented to the high priest. Lots would be chosen, one goat would be ritualistically sacrificed to the Israelites notion of god while their sins were vicariously projected upon the other goat by the high priest. That goat was taken into the wilderness and released at the edge of a very steep cliff so that it fell and died from the fall. The goat that was not ceremonially sacrificed by the priest, the one that had the sins of the people placed upon its head and lead out from the temple into the wilderness was called the scapegoat. It was a collective ritualistic form of absolution, healing and atonement.
In psychology the term scapegoat also denotes projection of guilt or other negative emotions onto an external object or person. In this case the misfortune or behavior of another is the focus of attention which allows those passing judgement on him or her to assume a position of morality and righteousness that is undeserved. In this case Michael Vick becomes the target and recipient of the scorn and animus of white people. This projection of their anger and hatred against Vick allows them to ignore their own transgressions, their inability or unwillingness to address the ills of society and their own personal shortcomings. Instead they rail against Michael Vick the wretched scapegoat. He becomes the object of their displeasure and frustration about whatever is going on in their lives and their uneasiness about themselves.
This is called the Scapegoat Syndrome in Jungian psychology. “Today we use the term ‘scapegoat’ easily in discussions of collective morality. We have become attuned to finding the phenomenon of scapegoating in social psychology and there are many studies of the scapegoat pattern in small groups, in families, in ethnic and national politics. We apply the term ‘scapegoat’ to individuals and groups who are accused of causing misfortune. Thus, they seem to relieve others, the scapegoaters, of their own responsibilities, and to strengthen the scapegoaters' sense of power and righteousness. In this current usage a search for the scapegoat relieves us also of our relationship to the transpersonal dimension of life. For in the present age we function with a perverted form of the archetype that ignores the gods; and we blame the scapegoat and the devil for life's evils. We forget that originally the scapegoat was a human or animal victim chosen for sacrifice to the underworld god to heal the community. The scapegoat was a pharmakon or healing agent.” The Scapegoat Complex — Sylvia Perera Massell.
Unfortunately for us the scapegoating of African people does not actually heal whites, it merely serves as a temporary release or relief of their stress and frustrations. For white folks scapegoating Michael Vick allows them to demonize another black man (Vick is dark skinned) to make themselves feel morally superior at a time the country illegally occupies two countries killing thousands of innocent people around the globe on a daily basis! Ironically whites demonize Vick for making money being associated with a despicable underground sport (organized dog fighting/betting) which in reality is controlled (especially in the South) by white men! “Dog fighting in the United States is a controversial and illegal activity. Arranged fights between two game dogs have been staged as a form of entertainment and gambling since at least the early 19th century in the United States; originally legal, it was gradually outlawed in all states but continues as an illegal underground activity in both rural and urban locations. In the late 20th and early 21st century, research and criminal investigation showed that problems associated with dog fighting in the United States go beyond serious animal welfare violations to links with organized crime and social problems; police and animal control law enforcement task forces of primarily local and state authorities have been formed in many parts of the country to combat dog fighting rings. In 2007 the U.S. Congress passed a federal law against interstate dog fighting activities, providing for felony-level penalties including multi-year prison sentences and large fines for each offense; passage of this law was followed by the involvement of the Inspector General's Office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in ongoing investigations around the country.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_fighting_in_the_United_States
Once again the hypocrisy of white folks manifests itself. Most large dog fighting rings and gambling set ups are operated by whites and most of the money goes to whites. On another level Vick serves as a scapegoat for the frustrations of whites as they watch their economic situation worsen and their socio-economic and political systems collapse. Before the recent town meetings on Healthcare, whites had nowhere to vent or no one to accost about the rampant favoritism shown to the rich, the growing income disparities between the super rich and working folks or the corruption and immorality metastasizing throughout the country.
Conditions aren’t getting better, more and more whites are feeling duped because Obama hasn’t changed policies or conditions to benefit them. Recent opinion polls indicate an increasing number of people still say the country is headed in the wrong direction. Frustration levels are rising along with unemployment, economic destitution, homelessness, distress and feelings of powerlessness. That is why the reactions at the recent town meetings have been so visceral and caustic. Of course some of the people acting out at these town meetings are Republican plants or right wing provocateurs.
Historically, it is easier for whites to project their angst and animus onto blacks than onto their own kind. It has always been easier psychologically for whites to demonize and attack blacks either verbally or by actions such as lynching, than to confront their own leaders. All too often whites scapegoat us in an attempt to avoid dealing with situations in their own lives or taking responsibility for their own problems. In their frustration and angst, whites now have Michael Vick and Barack Obama; two black men they can hate with impunity. Vick and Obama are their scapegoats.
Meanwhile black folks remain staunchly loyal to Barack Obama despite the fact he ignores us other than to use the tried and true political tactic of coming before the NAACP to castigate and chastize a segment of the black community at a time when his policies are under increasing fire. Remember Bill Clinton did the same thing when he was facing difficulties at home. They do it because it works.
Black folks have taken a supportive wait and see attitude towards Michael Vick. We are willing to give him the benefit of doubt. We feel Vick paid his debt to society and deserves a new start. But whites need someone to scorn and think they are better than; especially during tough times. Rather than think for themselves and discern what is really going on, realizing their politicians have sold them out yet again; rather than confronting their elected officials and demanding the justice system prosecute the fraudsters, crooks and warmongers who are stealing their wealth and standard of living and getting away Scott free, they direct their anger at the newest black scapegoat.