Look at that ungrateful little brat.
So, Little Tommy Friedman’s comments are making the rounds today. Athenae, as always, employs her laser-guided wrecking ball on this bullshit below. But there’s something I haven’t seen anywhere about his comments (I’m sure it’s out there, I just haven’t seen it): This is a stupid fucking idea that NEVER dies.
EVERY colonial/dominant power has bitched about the ungratefulness of the rebels/natives/colonists/poor people/insert group of people getting fucked over here.
You hear (mostly, but not always, white) people talk about how black people in America should just shut the fuck up and be grateful that slavery existed, because, you know, even if white folks (and Arab slave traders, yes, I know) didn’t spend centuries stealing every black person they could get their pasty hands on, and even if colonization never happened, Africa would be just as fucked today, so they’re fucking lucky to be in America. Of course.
The British bitched about how the American colonists were ungrateful. In fact, I believe King George III’s exact words were: “Hey, you fucks, we fought that French and Indian War for you. Now pony up, bitches! What, you don’t like being told to pay without getting a vote in the matter? You ungrateful little corn-eating bastards!”
The French bitched that the Vietnamese were ungrateful for their “civilizing mission.” (No shit, they really called it that. Just in French.) Then the Americans bitched that the Vietnamese were ungrateful for defending them against communism. Then, when the Chinese invaded Vietnam (China invades Vietnam kind of as a historical hobby–the way barbarians would loot Rome if there was nothing better to do on a Saturday night), they bitched about the Vietnamese not being thankful for all their help against the French and the Americans. And, of course, the Vietnamese, without any sense of irony, bitched about how ungrateful the Cambodians were when the PAVN invaded that country.
Yes, God may be cruel, but He loves Him some fucking irony.
And right-wing, left-wing, it doesn’t matter. People from anywhere on the political spectrum will make this dumb fucking argument. “Why aren’t these people happy that we’re doing something for them?”
Look, assholes: People aren’t being ungrateful when they’re unhappy that you invade and occupy their country. In general. That’s especially true when the fucking standard of living actually declines after you do so, doesn’t seem like it will improve, and the occupation looks indefinite.
I’m no political scientist; I possess no advanced degrees. But this shit is as plain as day to me. Gratitude is difficult enough in life as is. It establishes a power differential between people that is humbling to one party. So it’s a tricky situation. See, if you ask me to come to your house and re-paint it, I will. But I expect some sort of acknowledgment of my time and effort; that is, gratitude. I can’t push it too far, though, because that will cause resentment. It’s a delicate arrangement, and one that well-meaning people fuck up all the time.
Now, imagine this: Unbidden, I come over to your house, knock the fuckin’ thing down with a bulldozer, burn the rubble, and salt the earth, then tell you that at least you’ll save on your electric bill. You’re probably not gonna be grateful there. In fact, you’d probably shoot me where I stood.
You ungrateful asshole.