The subject of disrespect or unfairness is a box of paradoxes. Men rebuking men, men rebuking women, women rebuking men, and women rebuking women have remained an issue in human civilization. Right from the time of the early civilizations, there is enough evidence to show that disrespect of other people in various forms existed, and despite the cry for equality, such disrespect continues unabated. Disrespecting or abusing people in the name of religious or political beliefs, ethnic or racial origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation can be seen in college campuses, and places of work, all around the world. As Peterson and Brereton say, “Many students of discrimination are aware that the victim often reacts in ways as undesirable as the action of the aggressor” (57). In a research undertaken under a Combined Central Victim/Aggressor Model, it was found that some children are more aggressive than other children, while some children were more frequently the victim of aggression than other children. There is every possibility to believe that children who are aggressive toward weaker children may themselves have been victims of a more aggressive peer.
Also, aggressive children involved in aggressive relationships tend to be dissimilar with respect to the degree of aggression (Vermande et al. 30).
In 1961, in the University of Georgia, Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter were suspended protecting themselves after their classmates threw bricks and bottles outside Holmes’ dormitory. And in 1962, two people were killed and hundreds injured when aggressive protestors protesting the Supreme Court order that ordered James Meredith; the University of Mississippi’s first African student, to be admitted there. As the violence became unmanageable, President Kennedy had to send thousands of National Guardsmen to the university to enforce Meredith’s right to attend classes (Minter 21). What these incidents reveal is that despite the unfriendliness of the majority of white students against black African-American students, they acted in ways undesirable as the action of the aggressor. There weren’t any serious acts of revenge from the African-Americans, and the role of Martin Luther King Jr. is well known. His peaceful demonstrations had a telling effect, and African-Americans could soon participate in national debates and speeches as any white American could. Today, despite the turmoil and hardship faced by blacks in America, blacks have equal rights in the country, and a number of senior bureaucratic and public positions are held by them. It would be unethical for a victim to react in a similar way of the aggressor, because if they did, there would be no end to the stand-offs.
This is precisely what Peterson and Brereton suggests when they quote the example of Bettelheim’s experience in a German concentration camp during World War II. When Bettelheim’s turn came to request the SS man on duty that he needed to have his frost-bitten hands freed of dead flesh, the SS man tried to provoke pain by trying to tear the flesh with his hands, and when there were none, he readily asked the clinic to attend to the frostbite. Once inside, the SS man gave Bettelheim a wicked look, and watched him closely to see for signs of pain as the dead flesh was being cut. Even though there was the severe pain that accompanies the cutting of flesh, Bettelheim managed to suppress it. As soon as the frost-bitten parts of his hand were cut and Bettelheim started to leave, the SS man asked him why he didn’t stay for further treatment. Bettelheim said that he had received the service he desired, but the SS man “told the orderly to make an exception and treat Bettelheim’s hand. Once the treatment was over, the SS man called him back and gave him a card entitling Bettelheim for further treatment, and admittance to the clinic without inspection at the entrance” (Peterson and Brereton 58). If an aggressor is challenged by the victim in a manner that replicates the force and brutality of the aggressor, there would be no end to the hostility among the two, and the two; the victim and their aggressors will remain inseparably interlocked. Had the SS man sensed that Bettelheim was in pain, he would have rejoiced and torn the flesh off Bettelheim’s hand and sent him back without further treatment. Therefore, by suppressing his pain which was what the SS man wanted to see, he was able to get further treatment without any further inspection at the entrance.
There is every possibility to believe that children who are aggressive toward weaker children may themselves have been victims of a more aggressive peer (Vermande et al 30). Similarly, Peterson and Brereton (57) believe that “many students of discrimination are aware that the victim often reacts in ways undesirable as the action of the aggressor.” There is every reason to believe that the aggressor’s action and the victim’s reaction are interlocked. In 1999,
Sixteen year old Jeff Weise killed ten defenceless people including himself in his school; Red Lake High School, in 2004. This act can be seen as an act of a cold-blooded murderer. There is no doubt that the motive behind the shooting was to kill, and he did this by choosing his victims carefully. Weise first shot his grandfather, Daryl Lussier from point blank, before shooting his girlfriend, Michelle Sigana. Not satisfied, Weise went straight to his school, where he first shot the only unarmed security guard, and after entering the school, shot dead a teacher before shooting and killing 5 students. He then shot himself. At school in Red Lake, Weise became known as a Goth because of the way he dressed and sculpted his hair. While he wasn’t popular, he did have a small group of friends. Jen stately; a friend of Weise, said, “The people saying he didn't have any friends are just talking to each other. They never talked to him; He was the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet” (Maag and Dale).” “He was always trying to help other people with their problems. When he talked, he made a lot of sense,” quipped Marissa White, another friend of Weise. He didn’t discuss his father’s suicide with his few friends, but he discussed the subject online. So, what made Weise do what he did? In a note left behind by him, Weise wrote, “have never dealt with people who HAVE faced the kind of pain that makes you [physically] sick at times, makes you so depressed you can't function, makes you so sad and overwhelmed with grief that eating a bullet or sticking your head in a noose [seems] welcoming” (Maag and Dale). He was depressed and took medicines to control it, claimed he used marijuana, got drunk and blacked out. There was no doubt that Weise was a victim of aggression. After shooting Lussier and his girlfriend Michelle Sigana, Weise stole his grandfather’s .40-cal. handgun and 12-gauge shotgun. The rest is history. In this case, Weise was the SS man who wanted to revenge the aggression against him, and the aggressor was the Polish Jew who murdered the German attaché in Paris, vom Rath. Therefore, as Peterson and Brereton said, “Many students of discrimination are aware that the victim often reacts in ways as undesirable as the action of the aggressor.”
On reading Bettelheim’s autobiography, edited by Peterson and Brereton, it is hard not to read how a victim could become the aggressor. Because a Polish Jew murdered the German attaché in Paris, vom Rath, the Germans showed their hostility toward all Jews in their camps. Depriving them of basic medical assistance, it took a bold and unfettered Bettelheim to find way to counter the hatred of the SS man. Had Bettelheim acted the way of the other Jews in the camp, the deadlock would have continued, and his hands too would have been cut off due to gangrene. Even though Bettelheim was a victim of the aggressor, he took a different stance instead of countering the aggressor. This broke the interlock. The case of Weise exemplified the reversal of roles. The victim became the aggressor, because of which, the persecutor and the victim became inseparably interlocked.
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