Sua Shin / N. Hollywood G M 11th
When reading, it is common to assume the meaning of a word simply from context. People perceive two different words to be synonymous simply from its context, generalizing them without analyzing their implicit meanings. This frequently happens to the words “dissent” and “disagreement” in today’s various books, where they would both mean “being against” an opinion. They may seem identical to many people, but Daniel Boorstin precisely claims a distinct difference between the two. In Boorsin’s Decline of Radicalism (1969), he states that these words are different in their roots, their influences on society, and their impact on humans.
However, if dissent is a form of disagreement that is produced by the minority and disagreement is from a larger portion, dissent would be disagreement but focused on a smaller population, as both words would be distinguishing the agreeing and disagreeing population as separate from the rest. Although the impact of each of these words may be different, dissent is not separated from disagreement but rather is incorporated. It is a smaller form of disagreement, more concentrated to a specific population, such as the comfort women and the Puritans.
Dissension has been the major strategy for oppressed populations such as women in the twentieth century. Not only did they distinguish themselves as different from what society perceived women to be, but they stood out to disagree with all the assumptions and fought for their rights.
A comfort woman, a victim forced into sexual slavery in Japanese army camps, from South Korea named Hak-sun Kim was an inspirational dissenter to the majority of Korean society in the late twentieth century.
She was the first comfort woman to testify to the wrong perceptions of the government and media.
In 1990, when the Japanese government announced that they were not responsible for the issue of the military’s comfort women, she was triggered to take the courage and disclose the truths of the issue. Kim stated, “I do not understand why Japan is lying. I made my determination after watching the news. I was not asked to do it. I am doing this out of my own will. I am almost 70 years old, and I am not afraid of anything. I will say what I have to say.” After her first testimony in 1991, more than 100 comfort women stood out to testify and protest against the Japanese government through her inspiration.
As she is the first and only one to come out into society, she is a dissenter. She separates herself from the rest and stands out, plus she is the minority who disagrees with the majority. Kim’s dissent is the disagreement from the minority, which is suppressed comfort women of the time, of the whole Korean population.
Not only does dissension happen to women’s suffrage, but also the right to religion since the beginning of America’s growth. When a group believing a different religion from the majority argues that it is right to break off from society as a form of mild disagreement, it is dissent.
The Puritans arrived in America to freely practice their own form of Christianity instead of being oppressed by the majority who were under the Church of England.
They did not have an argument nor a quarrel as Boorstin claims. This was a peaceful dissent that incorporated disagreement because their leaving the Church of England was the violation that they believed to be the right to religion. Their first move inspired more Puritans to leave England for their rights, which refutes Boorstin’s statement that dissent is the cancer that destroys society.
Dissension does not always involve violence, as Hak-sun Kim and the Puritans did not create disruption in society. It is a smaller form of disagreement presented by the minority, which is commonly from oppression.
Its impacts are not drastic as Boorstin claims; the democracy in each nation was not destroyed, but rather this dissent fought harder to convince the majority and shape the society to a more liberal and just nation. Therefore, dissent is not different from disagreement; it is an incorporated form of disagreement from a specific population.
<Sua Shin / N. Hollywood G M 11th