The Victim game, or ‘I hurt more’
So there’s this fantastic episode of the Sopranos, where Tony and two of his guys are talking with this Jewish associate of theirs, and a Cuban guy who’s involved with this particular business deal. And they’re discussing the Columbus Day parade, and how the indians (Native Americans) are protesting it because Columbus killed so many Indians. And the Italians are upset because Columbus is their hero and they’ve been oppressed too, by Europe who looks down on them and by Americans here when they were immigrants. And then the Cuban talks about how his people suffered too, and how Colombus is like Hitler. So then the Jewish guy gets pissed and accuses the Cuban of being an anti-semite, because “no one was as bad as Hitler”.
And now I’m writing this paper for my Blues class about this Jewish guy and the record label he ran and the black musicians he recorded, and I started thinking about that Sopranos episode. So many of us talk about how our people were victimized. Even myself and Izzat joke about how the Irish were oppressed by the British. And then you’ll hear an activist talk about how their people suffered, the Jews suffered, the blacks suffered, the hispanics suffered, even white people suffered at the hands of other white people.
And when you think about it in that context, not only is it all ridiculous, the claims to victimhood, but it does a horrible disservice to those who *did* suffer. A black man today claiming that he suffers because his ancestors were slaves does a disservice to them because they actually WERE slaves. He’s not a slave. He wouldn’t even know what it was like. A Jewish guy saying he suffers because of the Holocaust just hurts those who actually were baked alive. It’s disgusting, but I don’t blame people because *none* of us really think about it. We just claim victimhood wherever we can. The Irish suffered when the British conquered them. I don’t know what it’s like to have my land taken away, or to see all the forests around me be cut down. We’re can only tie ourselves to our own past. Claiming the suffering of our ancestors only minimizes the suffering our ancestors went through. Invoking the name of Hitler, for example, to describe Bush, or for that matter anyone else (because *so* many people have been compared to Hitler), cheapens the suffering that Hitler caused. Bush didn’t put people into concentration camps. Hitler *literally* did. Being denied a job at an office isn’t the same as being a slave being whipped in the fields. It’s racism, but it’s not slavery. But a long time ago, blacks *literally* were whipped in the fields. And the fact is we’ve all committed horrible crimes against each other. Let’s start with the US. We bombed Japan, as the Japanese get upset about, and we did it with the horrendous atomic bomb. Well, Japan, you killed and raped thousands of Chinese people. And China, you killed tons of your own people, not to mention those in Tibet. Tibet didn’t really do anything that I can recall. But India oppresses Kashmiri’s. Pakistan does too. And Saudi Arabia and Iran and Syria oppress their own citizens. Egypt, you enslaved the Jews. Israel, you oppress the Palestinians. Palestinians, you kill Isrealis. Russia can claim they’re the victims of terrorism. But Russia killed *millions* of their own under communism. And no, it wasn’t just Stalin, someone had to be literally pulling the trigger. And someone had to be that guy’s boss, friend, lover. We’re all tied to these *horrible* things, every culture on earth has inflicted pain upon another culture.
It doesn’t make being a victim something to be proud of, or make victimhood a contest of who had it worse.