I was devastated to read the story from The Associated Press about the material pulled from a new University of North Carolina textbook for a required fitness class (“Cancer, Holocaust claims pulled from UNC textbook authored by BYU profs,” Aug. 8) that was written by Brigham Young University professors.
In the original version of the book, the professors called cancer “a disease of choice” and asserted that Holocaust victims “failed to tap into their inner strength.” I would hope that they would have developed insight and empathy about the process of victimization learned through the experiences of their own religion.
In his 1970 classic book “Blaming the Victim: The Art of Savage Discovery,” Professor William Ryan of Boston University begins by describing a Zero Mostel sketch in which he impersonates a U.S. senator conducting an investigation of the origins of World War II. At the climax of the sketch, the senator booms out, in an excruciating mixture of triumph and suspicion, “What was Pearl Harbor doing in the Pacific?” Ryan states, “This is an extreme example of Blaming the Victim.”
I am horrified today by the number of times we still hear some version of this story – whether the targets are racial minorities, religious minorities, LGBTQ or women. I am equally appalled by the fact that these phrases were crafted by professors here in our own backyard.
Naomi Silverstone, Salt Lake City