Sacrificial lamb

中国日报网 2016-04-22 14:02



Sacrificial lamb

Reader question:

When a murder suspect claims he’s been made a “sacrificial lamb”, what does it mean?

My comments:

Essentially, he claims to be innocent.

In other words, he’s been wronged. He claims that someone else committed the murder. He claims he has been made a scapegoat to shoulder the blame for the crime by other people.

Literally, he is the lamb that’s got sacrificed, as in ancient ritual ceremonies.

In ancient societies both here and in the West, people have been known to provide sacrifices to gods in heaven in order to secure a good harvest, rain, peace or any such like.

In China, chicken was often used as a sacrifice, something given up as a price to pay for some greater gain.

To sacrifice literally means to make sacred, signifying you are sincere and mean business.

Usually, the chicken or some other animal is killed for its blood, for shedding blood is considered a great symbol for sacrifice and hardship, meaning you’re ready to give up everything, even life for your chosen cause.

In ancient China, when pledging their allegiance in brotherhood, for example, young men would drink the chicken blood off. After that, they supposedly would be together and have each other’s back for always – till deaths do them apart.

However, “sacrificial lamb” rather than chicken is the standard phrase because in Biblical societies and cultures in the ancient Middle East, lamb was a highly valued animal than others. Hence, the lamb becomes the universal symbol of the sacrificial figure.

So, in short, if someone is regarded as a sacrificial lamb, then he is a victim, the scapegoat or the fall guy for someone else’s wrongdoing.

All right, no more ado. Media examples to put the sacrificial lamb into further context:

1. The difference between relying on one’s own merits for salvation and relying on the merits of the Messiah who was to come was demonstrated in the lives of Adam and Eve’s sons, Cain and Abel.

Cain brought to God an offering only of farm produce, the fruit of his own labor. His offering did not receive the approval of God, because by bringing only this sacrifice Cain showed that he relied only on his own merits rather than the blood of the Lamb for salvation. However, “without shedding of blood is no remission.” Salvation lies outside oneself in Christ.

Abel’s offering, on the other hand, included the blood offering (Genesis 4:4). His sacrifice was accepted because it pointed to the coming Redeemer. Abel thus understood that salvation was only to be obtained through faith in the blood of the Lamb. His testimony stands to this day.

By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh (Hebrews 11:4).

- Grace in the Old Testament,, May 25, 2009.

2. It’s already been decided in Washington.

When he is brought from the theater, a crowd is waiting to scream at him.

Lee Oswald must have felt like Joseph K. in Kafka’s The Trial.

He’s never given reasons for his arrest.

He doesn’t know the unseen forces ranging against him.

At police headquarters, he was booked for murdering Tippet.

No legal counsel was provided.

No record made of the questioning.

When the sun rises the next morning, he is booked for murdering the President.

The whole country, fueled by the media, assumes he is guilty.

Under the guise of a patriotic club owner out to spare Jackie Kennedy from testifying at a trial, Jack Ruby is let into a garage by one of his inside men on the police force.

Oswald is brought out like a sacrificial lamb and nicely disposed of as an enemy of the people.

Who grieves for Lee Harvey Oswald, buried in a cheap grave under the name Oswald?


False statements and press leaks about Oswald circulate the globe.

The official legend is created and the media takes it from there.

The glitter of official lies and the epic splendor of JFK’s funeral confuse the eye and confound the understanding.

Hitler said: “The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.”

Lee Harvey Oswald, a crazed, lonely man who wanted attention… and got it by killing a President was only the first in a long line of patsies.

In later years, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King... men whose commitment to change and peace made them dangerous to men committed to war, would follow… also got killed by such lonely crazed men.

- JFK Script,, December 2, 2011.

3. Akai Gurley was shot and killed in the staircase of an East New York public housing complex on 20 November 2014.

Over the next two weeks, a 12-year-old black child, Tamir Rice, was shot and killed by police while he was playing with a toy gun in a park in Cleveland; a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri declined to indict officer Darren Wilson for shooting and killing the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown; and a grand jury in Staten Island declined to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo for placing Eric Garner, a black man selling illegal cigarettes on the sidewalk, in a chokehold, leading to his death.

The decisions not to indict the white officers touched off a fresh round of nationwide protests and disbelief that a police officer would be ever be held accountable for killing a black person.

Then, on 10 February 2015, Liang was indicted in the Gurley shooting, and convicted of second-degree manslaughter a year later. He is scheduled to be sentenced on 19 April.

A rookie cop who’d been on the job for 18 months, he was the first New York City officer convicted for an on-duty shooting in more than 10 years. Thousands of Chinese Americans say they are convinced that he is being “scapegoated” for the crimes of white police officers: a sacrificial lamb proffered by the government to angry Black Lives Matter protesters.

Min Liu, a first-generation immigrant living in a Silicon Valley suburb, explained the fear this inspires. “We are afraid we and our children will forever be the scapegoat,” she said.

“The Chinese Exclusion Act was where we were scapegoated because the workers were not happy about their wages and job losses,” she said. When unarmed black men were shot, she added, “no police were indicted. The one rookie Chinese cop who had no intention to kill was the only one who was indicted and convicted. It was clear scapegoating to us.”

- ‘Scapegoated?’ The police killing that left Asian Americans angry – and divided,, April 18, 2016.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at:, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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