Some numbers

In the US many people think we’re enduring epic bad times. First it was four years of Donald Trump, and then the COVID epidemic. Can we possibly be any more UNHAPPY?! Can we quantify unhappiness? There is a report that tracks “happiness”, published by an arm of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network. In the 2020 survey the US ranks fourteenth out of 95 countries, between Ireland and Canada. Tanzania ad Zimbabwe are at the bottom, 94 and 95 respectively. Plus, the US position at fourteen is actually up two spots from the previous report, dated 2017-19.

Deaths Due to Tyranny
In the popular imagination, Adolf Hitler is the greatest mass murderer in history. His name and political philosophy are properly conflated with the genocide of six million Jews. But he’s not the greatest mass murderer in history. Hitler is exceeded by Joseph Stalin, and Stalin in turn is exceeded by Mao Tse Tung. See this, from an article published in the Washington Post in 2016:

“Who was the biggest mass murderer in the history of the world? Most people probably assume that the answer is Adolf Hitler, architect of the Holocaust. Others might guess Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who may indeed have managed to kill even more innocent people than Hitler did, many of them as part of a terror famine that likely took more lives than the Holocaust. But both Hitler and Stalin were outdone by Mao Zedong. From 1958 to 1962, his Great Leap Forward policy led to the deaths of up to 45 million people – easily making it the biggest episode of mass murder ever recorded.”

Lynching was one of the many crimes inflicted on African Americans during slavery and the Jim Crow era. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice is particularly focused on lynching, and their own web site cites “more than 4,400 lynchings of Black people in the United States between 1877 and 1950.”

Two numbers may put 4,400 in perspective

  • The Trail of Tears, just one incident in Native American experience, according to Prof. Patrick Allitt in The American West: History, Myth, and Legacy, “cost the lives of upwards of 8 thousand Cherokees”.
  • The Civil War, fought to liberate African American slaves, resulted in 655,000 combat deaths.

The Bottom Line
–Maybe we’re not as unhappy as we think.
–When considering political mass murderers, Communists top the list.
–Does African American suffering while real enough, deserve more perspective? Maybe the greater wrongs inflicted on other groups deserves consideration. Maybe there should be more recognition of efforts made to right the wrongs against African Americans.

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