As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”
— John 9 1:3
I wrote about this briefly in last week’s Penguindrum post: Kanba, Himari and Shouma believe they deserve to be punished for their parents’ sins. Himari deserves to get sick and die. It’s a punishment which she earned through the accident of birth. Before, I only mentioned how this idea is nothing new. People have been bigots for over two thousand years. Can’t say I’m surprised.
Roghek wrote a response today to my comments, elaborating on the biblical treatment of inheritance of the parent’s sins. It helped me to get my own thoughts in order, and made me realize what I had wanted to say before.
The thing is, I made this idea of blaming the children sound like it’s a problem of the past. People in biblical times were jerks who blamed children for being blind. Penguindrum is just a work of fiction: no one would blame Himari in real life. Right?
Wrong. This is just a specific instance of a general problem, “Blaming the Victim.” Instead of compassion, we offer the victim nothing but blame. Himari’s disease is seen as punishment for what her parents have done. But she is really a victim as well. Let’s list some examples of blaming the victim from current events. My examples mainly come from American politics, since that’s what I’m most familiar with, but they are in no way limited to Americans.
- The women Herman Cain harassed. This one works for Obama and she’s ugly. The usual accusation here is that she’s a slut though, and she wanted it.
- The Occupy protestors. They deserve to be looked down on and victims of police brutality because they urinate on people, shoot at the White House, publicly urinate, defecate property, rape people, sexually abuse and assault each other, deal drugs, and murder people. Oh, and they’re mostly homeless people there for free food (which is organic! those damn hippies!), and are busy with knife fights and groping. Of course this is all happening while they’re surrounded by police. Oh yeah, and they’re starting some “class warfare”.
- The Afghanistanis and Iraqis. They are barbaric terrorists who don’t love freedom. Maybe because it comes in the shape of bombs.
- The poor. They are fat and lazy drug dealers. They irresponsibly have too many children (see: welfare mom) and are leeches who don’t pay any taxes.
- Illegal immigrants. Same as the poor, but add gang members and violent criminals.
- Racial minorities. “Reverse discrimination.”
- The uninsured. Let them die. They’re irresponsible.
- Katrina. Those drug-dealing gangsters in New Orleans deserved it.
Obviously, this list is by no means exhaustive. I wrote it in ten minutes and it seems to cover half of what’s in the news already.
My hope is that the next time you see an instance of “Blaming the Victim” you’ll realize it. Be slow to judgement and quick to compassion.