August 20, 2012
Bully for Us
I did an online search today (8/18/12) for "Mitt Romney bully" and found nothing more recent than three months ago. Romney's prep school escapades as class bully seem to have dropped out of the news; and why shouldn't they?
They are not news. Every president of the United States since Jimmy Carter has been a bully. It's become a prerequisite. I mean, we don't want another wimp for president. We can't have another president who allows Iran to hold our compatriots hostage for over a year. We need a tough bully president who will sanction Iran for even thinking about nuclear weapons. (Never mind that Reagan sold weapons to Iran in spite of an embargo, and diverted the proceeds to Nicaraguan terrorists in spite of another embargo. Never mind that Iran held three CIA agents [oops, innocent hikers who accidentally strayed over the border] hostage until the United States [oops, Oman] paid their $1.5 million ransom [oops, bail]).
I'm not trying to toot Jimmy Carter's horn. He did some pretty ugly things as president, like funding, training, and arming some nasty people in the Afghan Mujahideen (allies when they are temporarily on our side, terrorists when they are not). Perhaps I'm being nostalgic. I've never met president Carter; but all in all, he seems like a kind man; and no reasonable person could deny that he is without doubt the best former president we've had in a long long time. Maybe that's why he lost his bid for reelection.
Enough nostalgia. Let's look at the some of the bullying going on now; and then let's ask ourselves how this could possibly happen without our complicity and willingness to accept and elect leaders, including our president, who are bullies.
Since we are discussing Iran, let's talk about the recent earthquake, and how sanctions prevent humanitarian aid from reaching victims of the earthquake. What kind of person would stand in the way of good people helping victims of a natural disaster? A bully.
Or we could talk about Bradley Manning. Although convicted of no crime, he was placed in an isolation cell for 23 hours every day for months. UN special rapporteur for torture, Juan Mendez concludes, "[T]he 11 months under conditions of solitary confinement (regardless of the name given to his regime by the prison authorities) constitutes at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in violation of article 16 of the convention against torture. If the effects in regards to pain and suffering inflicted on Manning were more severe, they could constitute torture." Who would place a person in isolation for 23 hours every day for 11 months? A bully.
Or we could talk about the treatment of non-violent protesters. Spraying hot pepper in the faces of non-violent demonstrators, including young children, should certainly be classified as bullying, (Click here, here and here.)
Or let's talk of the sentencing of Shakir Hamoodi to three years in prison for sending money to his family and other needy people in Iraq. The sanctions of Iraq killed well over 1/2 million young children. Indeed, then Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, famously remarked on the sanctions, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price [the death of 1/2 million children] — we think the price is worth it." Who would deliberately cause the death of 1/2 million children? A bully.
Or what of the drone attacks which so often kill young children? Besides the cowardice of killing people half way around the world from the safety of air-conditioned control rooms, what of the secondary strikes that kill first responders and good samaritans responding to cries for help? This is the real hallmark of a bully. Don't even try to help my victims or you will be my victim too.
Or we could talk about our prison system, which holds over 2 million inmates, the vast majority incarcerated for nothing more than possession of controlled substances, a non-violent, victimless crime. Who would keep so many incarcerated for so long for doing so little? A bully.
Or we could talk about waterboarding - strapping down a victim and pouring water in his nose to make him feel like he's drowning - certainly a technique that would make any bully proud.
Or we could talk about modern day slavery, assigning ownership of the most intimate parts of our bodies (our DNA) to corporations like Myriad. Who would seek to own natural parts of the human body? What judge would permit such ownership? A bully.
Or we could talk about "legitimate rape" which Missouri congressman and senatorial candidate Todd Akin claims doesn't generally result in pregnancy. Who would even talk of "legitimate rape"? A bully.
Or we could talk about mother rape, drilling holes in our mother Earth and pumping her full of toxic fluids (fracking). Who would treat their mother this way? A bully.
In case you are thinking: That's not me, he's talking about someone else, consider: A Washington Post-ABC poll conducted 6 months ago found that 84% of people in the United States support drone attacks on suspected terrorists, (questions 13 and 14). The chances are that if you are over 22, you voted at least once to put a bully in the White House.
I've had my experiences as a bully too. Yes, when I was in High School, I participated in, and sometimes even instigated, the teasing and mocking of effeminate teenagers. Unlike Mitt Romney I don't consider these incidents pranks. They were nasty and vicious. I remember some of these incidents very well and am thoroughly ashamed of them.
Our public schools try to teach children not to be bullies, but with very little success. After all, it just wouldn't do to have school children learning that our leaders, and especially our president, are bullies. Do as I say, not as I do, doesn't work well with young children — they see through the hypocrisy like the child who cried out, THE EMPEROR'S NAKED."
There is a wonderful children's book on bullying, Leave Me Alone: A Tale of What Happens When You Stand Up to a Bully by Kes Gray and Lee Wildish. In this book a boy who is tormented by a giant who bullies him constantly finds that when his friends: the fly, the frog, the cow and other animals stand behind him, the bully is powerless. And indeed, this is the ONLY way to deal with bullies. Like Dr. Seuss's stories, this is a book for all ages: 3 to 300; and especially important for adults, young and old, who are bullied by the rich and powerful and think there is nothing they can do but accept it.
If we elect Mitt Romney president, he could graduate from cutting gay kids' hair while his classmates hold them down, to pouring water down hapless prisoners' noses while his goons keep them strapped to a board. If we elect Barack Obama, he could continue to launch deadly drone attacks on those who dare to respond to the cries for help from the victims of his earlier attacks.
One thing is for certain. Unless Jill Stein pulls the upset of the millennium, we will be putting a bully in the White House again for the next four years.
I'm thinking perhaps "Bully for Us" is the wrong title for this article. Maybe it should be    BULLIES