A special snowflake is a member of a minority group who inadvertently (or in rare cases, intentionally) furthers their own societal oppression by pandering to a majority group. They are called "special snowflakes" because although their views are not popular or common among their group, they demand disproportionate amounts of attention simply for disagreeing with the others. Unfortunately, because they intentionally try to align their views with the majority, they do tend to receive the attention they seek and often attempt to become unofficial ambassadors for their group despite nobody agreeing with them.
African-American special snowflakes are sometimes called Uncle Toms, after the title character from Uncle Tom's Cabin, more specifically racist caricatures of the character that emerged after the novel was published.
Special snowflakes commonly employ a form of the argument from authority, in that they imply that because they are a member of a minority group, they are an authority on all issues affecting that group, even when their "expertise" is contrary to most opinions from members of their own group.
Historical special snowflakes
Minorities who support their oppressors have appeared throughout history. The concept came to wider attention during the Civil War, when surprising numbers of black slaves opposed efforts to be freed because they had been brainwashed by their white masters into thinking that if they were freed, they would never be able to integrate into society, and were better off being enslaved. The term "house Negro" was used to refer to more well-off slaves (typically those who lived in the plantation house) and were not exposed to the more cruel realities of slave life. False consciousness was a term coined by Marxist communists to try and explain why workers do not seem to naturally rebel against the state.
Creation of a special snowflake
Social scientists and academics have devoted significant time and resources to understanding why members of minority groups often hold views that further their own oppression. Common explanations include:
- Living in a world where media and entertainment are run by the majority. When a member of a minority group is surrounded by entertainment and news media that insist stereotypes are valid portrayals of their group, members of the group may start to believe them.
- Having significant privilege in some other sector of their life that prevents them from having the same negative experiences that most of their group does. For example, an affluent African-American may not be exposed to the socioeconomic realities that many of his peers face, and may come to the same racist conclusions as white people--that his fellow black people are lazy or detrimental to society. As another example, a woman raised in a very liberal community may not be exposed to the same sexist gender roles that many other women encounter, and so she may come to believe these gender roles no longer exist and that feminists are raving lunatics.
- A strong desire to be part of a majority group and be "accepted," leading them to "sell out" their fellow minorities to try and prove themselves. For example, Mexican people who immigrate to the US legally and learn English may find themselves turning on illegal immigrants or those who cannot speak fluent English because they feel this will earn them "points" with white people.
Special snowflake Mad Libs
"As a member of [oppressed group], I agree with you that most members of my group are [derogatory stereotype]. I feel embarrassed by them and wish they'd just shut up. People in my group need to lighten up and take a joke. There are members of my group, like me, who are ordinary members of society and don't want to cause trouble. Please don't think badly of me because of the behavior of people like this."
Special snowflake power
Special snowflakes hold an often underestimated amount of power. Although they represent a very small segment of their group, they are given disproportionate media representation in order to create the illusion of strife or disorder within the minority group. Conservative groups and news organizations like Fox News will trot out an African-American Republican talking head to spout off inflammatory racial garbage that no white person could get away with saying, a practice that has become increasingly commonplace after the election of Barack Obama. Special snowflakes are extremely effective at delegitimizing a movement by making its members look like a small fringe unsupported by the rest of the minority group. 99 women/black/gay/atheist people can stand up in unison against an offensive concept--but it only takes one person standing up in defense of the majority to make them look like loons.
Examples of special snowflakes
- Straight-acting gay people who criticize those who do not conform to heterosexual demands of appearance or behavior ("flamboyance")
- S. E. Cupp, assuming she is actually an atheist
- Atheists who have been raised in liberal or accepting areas and think the claims of those living in the Bible Belt or other conservative areas are exaggerated or false
- Many women who misunderstand what feminism is
- Most black conservatives and Republicans