The topic of bullying has dominated the news cycle this past month, ever since the tragic suicide of several children and teens was exposed on cable television. Quite a few of the victims were either gay teens or those accused of being gay. Some were Moslem, and others were just deemed to be the human equivalent of trash by their hapless peers.
The single common denominator for these cases would appear to be bigotry -- fueled by ignorance. This is part of the equation but not the entire "enchilada". You can almost hear Wolf Blitzer of CNN (posing with his corporate masters), asking the obvious question -- where do these kids get this from?! Newsflash Wolf -- THEY GET IT FROM US, the adults who set the tone for our society. We have become a nation of two parties -- the bullies, and the bullied.
Various celebrities, purchased experts and talking head pundits have attempted to address this national disgrace. Ellen Degeneres gave the most sincere plea for tolerance, compassion and justice, but I suspect it fell on largely deaf ears. While the mainstream media extols the tragic actions of the suicide victims, they fail to root out the true cause -- NAMELY THE HISTORIC NATURE OF POLITICAL BULLIES IN THE UNITED STATES.
Michael Winship wrote a piece recently, aptly titled..."The Pulpit of Bullies;" where he traced a few recent historic origins of political bullying. Citing the 1968 National Democratic Convention in Chicago under political boss Mayor Richard J. Daley; he reminded us how CBS correspondent Dan Rather was assaulted by security and knocked to the ground for attempting to interview a Georgia delegate who was being removed from the convention floor. His colleague, Walter Cronkite, the voice Americans trusted, uncharacteristically exclaimed, "I think we've got a bunch of thugs here, Dan!"
The 1968 convention also served as the backdrop for anti-war movement protests kept confined to the streets, with 'law enforcement' attacking demonstrators in what was later acknowledged by an official report as 'a police riot.' In 1968 we had Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia -- now we have Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and possibly Iran. Somehow, 'the beat goes on,' with the adult version of 'bullying', namely gangsterism, (which has served our corporatist government well), doled out as an effective antidote to democracy.
Flash forward to 2010, and we have the GOP embracing the 'Tea Party' movement. Though GOP leaders dismiss any official party endorsement of the tea party, multiple mainstream republican candidates (including U.S. Senate hopeful Roy Blunt of Missouri) -- have signed a 'treaty' to follow tea party goals. A press release from the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition confirmed Blunt signing onto the treaty. The coalition also claimed that the alliance treaty... "will hold signatories in alignment with Tea Party principles: Fiscal Accountability, Transparency in Government and Constitutional Principles at every level of government."
In Alaska, the 'land of Palin', GOP and Tea Party Senate candidate, Joe Miller must have missed the memo on 'transparency in government' and 'constitutional principles,' when he hired private security people who decided to conduct a citizen's arrest and subsequently handcuff and detain a reporter for asking questions, (presumably that Miller didn't want to face) -- much less answer. Two other reporters were similarly threatened. Though the security company could claim the unconstitutional arrests were their idea, ultimately Miller's campaign, and Miller himself, must take responsibility.
Since 9/11 we have been subjected to a series of obviously unconstitutional 'laws' proposed by the previous President, rubber stamped by Congress, which have constituted a systematic dismantling of our Bill of Rights -- the ultimate defense weapon against government bullies. Additionally, the use of presidential signing statements traditionally assigned to explain an executive's reasoning, have morphed into 'de facto' substitute legislation -- minus the legislature.
Furthermore, this President claims the RIGHT to assassinate anyone (citizen or not), anywhere on the planet, who is considered to be a 'terrorist'. No proof of criminality is required, just the President's word. Constitutional scholar and Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald explained this dangerous power:
... not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are "state secrets," and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.
By any reasonable person's thinking; this set of unconstitutional powers represents nothing more than a -- presidential dictatorship.
Apparently, the politicians of both parties presume themselves to be 'above the law,' and now everyone is joining in the national handwringing over the bullying epidemic, wondering how this happened. Frankly, it is totally disingenuous for party leaders to feign ignorance for either causing or contributing to these societal plagues of racism, religious prejudice, homophobia, misogyny and anti-intellectualism. Such evils do not happen in a vacuum. They are planned, implemented and used for the political expediency of would be dictators and slavers. So, it should serve as no small surprise that our children are... 'living what they learn.'
A host of experts have proposed, even mandated the necessity for special anti-bullying programs. Both bullies and the bullied would be expected to undergo this new educational programming, with Arne Duncan at the helm proclaiming another victory, ironically, in his bully war against public schools.
Unfortunately, this idea fails to acknowledge the true essence of bullying -- namely its necessary 'top-down' nature, issuing from a command structure which declares itself to be 'above the law;' its need for the dehumanization of the 'alien other,' and the silence of any witnesses. Of these three conditions, this triad of bullying, the last condition, that of remaining silent in the face of evil -- is the most insidious. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. identified the problem in his famous out of Vietnam speech, when he declared in the title that there is ... "A Time to Break Silence."
Our nation is at war on three fronts, Iraq, Afghanistan and now, Pakistan. This is being done in an alleged 'war on terror,' an endless war with an impossible goal. Our political leaders have created a cast of characters which makes no distinctions between constitutionally protected dissent and terrorism in this false 'morality play.' Prejudice is encouraged by our government and fostered like babies in an incubator being nourished by the corporatists in our midst. No therapeutic approaches of conflict mediation or sensitivity training will be effective in a culture which celebrates the bully and dehumanizes all of us, bullies, victims and their silent collaborators.