Thursday, July 26, 2012
Stuart Has Words on "Breaking Bad Karma"
As anyone who participates here knows there is always the chance that I will front page a comment. The comment below by Stuart is thoughtful and deserves to be front paged. His topic is this exceedingly unfortunate piece by pop culture writer Anna Breslaw at The Tablet entitled, "Breaking Bad Karma," wherein she suggests that Holocaust survivors are actually "villains masquerading as victims."
She claims that Holocaust survivors are Judenscheisse, if you can possibly imagine.
I read that piece. I found it interesting. (don't get all pissed off yet, I also found it appalling.)
I'm not familiar with the AMC series. Not sure I've ever heard of it. But the storyline seems to share the same dark genesis as both Weeds and The Big C (showtime series). Survival through some catastrophic tragedy allows people to justify every bad shitty thing they do the rest of their lives.
True? Not in my experience. And the author's lede notwithstanding, my experience would most often lead me to think about the holocaust survivors I've known. Why does my experience bring me to the exact opposite conclusion of the author? I suspect it's because I'm somewhere around 30 years older than the author. I haven't known a handful of old and soon to be dead holocaust survivors. I've known dozens, maybe scores, some of them with vivid memories, that were only 15 or 20 years older than me. As an adult, some of them were almost my contemporaries. I grew up surrounded by a handful of surviors.
If there was any common thread among their personalities, other than them being survivors, it never occurred to me before. And as I've thought about it for the last 30 minutes, still nothing is apparent. They were jerks and they were angels. Ordinary and extraordinary. Frugal and spendthrifts. Loyal and untrustworthy. Some of them talked freely about their experiences. And some never at all.
My most recent personal interaction with a survivor was at the 1st seder this year. The mother of a friend, and purely coincidentally a friend of my mother, I've known her for more than 30 years. She's old now, recently suffered a stroke. At close to 90 and very fragile, sex is still one of her favorite discussion topics. Until that night a few months ago, I had never once heard her mention what she went through. She talked about it for a few tearful minutes. Her daughter, sitting next to her, with her jaw dropping at what her mother was sharing, had never once heard her mother mention a single experience from the 18 months she spent in a concentration camp.
Does the author's age excuse the appalling broad brush she uses to paint holocaust survivors? Hardly. Or for that matter, even labeling them with "extreme will to live". I suspect most that she has had contact with were very young during the holocaust. And probably survived because of their youth, and quite possibly the extreme desires of parents and other adults around them to keep them alive, as much as anything they did themselves.
Interesting that she's estranged from her father. I wonder whose fault that is.