nancylebov (nancylebov) wrote,

In defense of my people

In a generally excellent post about why Christians in the US should stop complaining about being persecuted in the US the following brought me up short:
Parents of minority religions school their children in silence so the children won't be taunted and harassed and teased and beaten by not only Christian children but by Christian adults, and pushed to the point of suicide. That's privilege, not persecution.

You see, I was born in 1953. I'm Jewish, which is generally considered a minority religion. I grew up in two suburbs of Wilmington, Delaware. One of them, I was told, had only recently started selling houses to Jews, and there was another suburb my parents didn't look at because it didn't sell to Jews.

I wasn't "schooled to silence" by my parents. I didn't hide my religion. We didn't change our name.

I wasn't a socially ept child, and I was in my 30's before I more or less calmed down about my height-- I'd been teased about it so much.

However-- you know how much I was harassed for being Jewish? I was called a dirty Jew. Once. I still remember the kid's name, but it was nothing like the campaign of terror described in the quoted paragraph. My mother, who was bullied by Irish kids in Philadelphia for being Jewish (probably in the 30s), never mentioned being attacked by adults.

There weren't campaigns for religious tolerance, and I don't know how Pagan or Muslim kids would have been treated-- but the lack of overt anti-Semitism seems to have been effortless.

I can't find the link, but Jo Walton asked how Jews would refer to Passover to non-Jews. My immediate thought was "Passover"-- I wouldn't expect them to understand "Pesach", and I wouldn't see any reason to hide that it was a Jewish holiday. The idea of needing to hide it made me feel queasy-- I'd never had to live that way.

None of this is to deny that there are members of minority religions, including Judaism, who are persecuted in the US-- but to talk about such treatment as though it's pervasive is just false. I don't know what would be a good way to talk about it which both gives adequate emotional weight to how bad it is when it's bad while also saying that it's not a universal experience, but I think it's a project worth working on.

This is probably a reasonable place to ask-- there are places where Christians really are persecuted for their religion, but I don't hear a big noise about it from American Christians. Am I just not listening in the right places? Or are there other reasons?

Link thanks to dcseain. Is there a way to mention lj users in a dreamwidth post so that the lj icon shows up at both lj and dw?

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