“It was a complex chain of oppression in Virginia,” (Zinn, 42). Zinn makes this declaration while explaining Bacon’s Rebellion, which is often considered to be the first armed insurgence led by American colonists against the British. Nathaniel Bacon (who is not related to Kevin Bacon) and his followers were angered by the government’s lackluster response to skirmishes with Native Americans. The “chain” that Zinn speaks of refers to how the Native Americans were oppressed by the settlers moving westward (ie. Bacon and his followers), who were being oppressed by the government of Virginia. Everyone, however, was being oppressed by England and its love of tobacco and trade-control.
This idea of a chain of oppression is not new. We see it with the story of Christoper Columbus (the Native Americans were oppressed by Columbus’ sailors/colonizers and everyone was oppressed by Columbus), slavery (slaves were oppressed by just about everyone, and there were probably workers in between the slaves and the plantation owners that were oppressed), etc. You see it today, of course, all around the world. It’s a similar concept to that of a bully. The bully picks on the weak kid that can’t stand up for themself, but, outside of school, the bully could be picked on by another bully. However, just because you don’t always know what the aggressor is going through does not excuse mean or violent behavior. This apparently hasn’t entirely clicked for the human race.
Oppression has historically proved to be a bad idea. You bully your colonies? They start a war to get away from you. You force people into slavery and later regulate them based on their skin color? You get a Civil Rights Act passed and a lot of protesting for more change in the decades that follow. You invade other countries even though you were told not to? You lose two world wars.
Oppression will never go away. There will always be a Bacon who oppresses because they themselves are oppressed. One can hope, however, that it can evolve into something a little more humane, and a lot less harmful.