December 7, 2012

War: The ultimate example of bullying

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Jane Stillwater @ 2:08 pm

At a local neighborhood meeting the other day, I made a comment that someone else didn’t like — and the next thing I knew this person was yelling at me BigTime. Perhaps she thought that the sheer volume of her voice would bully me into keeping the real 411 to myself. Not gonna happen.

I’ve been bullied all my life by all kinds of expert bullies. I’ve been threatened by terrorists in Iraq, chased by North Korean border guards, issued death threats by the IDF — and, even worse, raised in a Republican town! You can’t get much more bullied than that. So now I never back down for anyone — let alone someone who merely raises his or her voice.

And so, at the meeting, I used my “outside voice” on that bully — a voice that makes even dogs and bats hide under the bed. But did that make me feel any better? No, not even close. All I’d done was just to stoop to her level. Not good.

Bullies are people who, when they can’t win their arguments by truth, reason or logic, then result to violence, intimidation, lies and extortion. School-yard bullies use that technique. And, on the national and international level, it is also used by the Mafia, Al Qaeda, Fox News, the IDF, the GOP, America’s new militarized police forces and our new massive highly-weaponized armies happily dreaming of world-wide “pre-emptive war” at the taxpayers’ expense. So how do we protect ourselves against bullies? Not sure. Non-violent resistance is good — but losing one’s life in order to non-violently preserve one’s own self-respect is bad.

Strength in numbers is good (just look at what WalMart workers are achieving through their demonstrations) – but getting pepper-sprayed and shot with rubber bullets by our new militarized police forces in the process is bad.

Raising our children to believe in Truth and Justice is good. Bullying our children with spankings and other types of brutal actions of the strong against the weak is bad. ANYONE can beat up a two-year-old.

Social media freedom and WikiLeaks are good. Media distortion and censorship is bad.

And, according to Dave Lindorff, climate change is bad for most of us but might be hunky-dory for bullies.

When we decent folk stand up against bullies, no matter what it costs us, this makes us feel good about ourselves — but it also makes us feel bad because we have stooped to their level. But as Jesus, Buddha, etc. once said, “There is more good in human beings than there is bad.” And now, more than ever, it is time for the good part of our human nature to come out — and to stop kowtowing to bullies. And to stop BEING bullies as well.

But I digress.

What I really want to talk about here is the very nature of “war” — where the strong intimidate the weak and the biggest bully takes all. Unfortunately, it’s not the smartest or most creative or the kindest or the best or most hard-working person who takes it all — it’s the ones with the most weapons and the least shame.

In the last 65 years, America has become the biggest bully in the world. I’m ashamed to say that — but it is true. And all our super-macho armies and all our vainglorious wars, even the ones involving squabbling with other bullies over the same turf, don’t make us any better than what we really have become: Bullies.

We try to teach our kids not to be bullies — and then we ourselves turn around and wave flags and cheer and support all kinds of brutal bullying done by America’s vast war machine, even though we have armed and equipped these bullies ourselves; at the expense of our own jobs, homes, infrastructure, schools, lifestyles, elders and kids.

A few million years ago, dinosaurs were the ultimate bullies and mammals were the ultimate victims — in a race between the strong and the meek. But just look how things have turned out. Seen any dinosaurs around lately? I think not.

And who knows what new life-form will start evolving once our current human bullying “Masters of War” are extinct.

At the rate we are going — between the massive weapons races, the invasions and Occupations, the terrorism (state-sponsored and otherwise), the nuclear arsenals, whatever — it looks like the meek truly are going to inherit the earth. Again.

May 12, 2012

Romney the Smiling Sociopath

“According to several on-the-record classmates, Romney led a posse of boys to pin down a presumptively gay student, John Lauber, and Romney snipped off his bleached blond hair while Lauber cried and screamed for help.”
– From “Mitt Romney’s ‘cruel and nasty’ high school bullying: 5 ways it hurts him,” The Week, May 11, 2012.

“He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!”
– Mitt Romney, age 18, to his friend Matthew Friedemann right before he assaulted and cut classmate John Lauber’s hair against his will.

“The [Washington] Post reports that five former classmates of Romney’s recalled the incident independently. The former classmates, who span the political spectrum, called the act “vicious,” “senseless,” and “idiotic,” among other things.”
– Lauren Kelley, “…Story Emerges of Romney Tackling, Cutting Hair of Boy He Believed to Be Gay,” AlterNet, May 10, 2012.

“I don’t recall the incident myself, but I’ve seen the reports and not going to argue with that. There’s no question I did some stupid things when I was in high school, and obviously if I hurt anyone by virtue of that, I would be very sorry for it and apologize for it.”
Mitt Romney, reacting to the Washington Post story and offering a tepid apology for something he doesn’t remember. After prep school, he went to Paris, France, to be a Mormon missionary. Perhaps he had an epiphany after he graduated. (BTW, in at least one interview, he chuckled after he said “I don’t recall the incident…”)

“Asked specifically about having interrupted a closeted gay student in English class, Gary Hummel, by shouting, ‘Atta girl!’ Romney said, ‘I really can’t remember that.’ “
– Philip Rucker, “Mitt Romney Apologizes for High School Pranks That ‘Might Have Gone Too Far’,” Washington Post, May 10. 2012.”

“What matters is not what Romney did then, but what he does today. And, today, he denies any recollection of the event. That’s a character flaw. It doesn’t seem like anyone else that was there that day ever forgot it.”
– The Booman Tribune, “Memory Loss Defense Makes it Relevant,” May 11, 2012.

“’For [Romney] not to remember it? It doesn’t ring true. How could the fellow with the scissors forget it?’ the former classmate said.”
– Josh Marshall at TPM, quoting an ABC News interview with a former Romney classmate.

“Leading a blind teacher into a door is cruel, but it’s still within the category of prank, in part because it targets authority. Bart Simpson pranks.” [...]
“I do not believe Romney has no memory of this. I believe he is lying. His absurd statement that he has no memory of the event but that he didn’t target the boy for being gay is hilarious for its self-contradiction. A boy who routinely snickered ‘Atta girl!’ when one young gay kid in his class spoke up is not just bashing hippies. I went to an all-boys high school in the 1970s. What Romney did was a gay-bashing.”
– Andrew Sullivan, “Pranks,” The Daily Beast, May 10, 2012. [I don’t agree with Sullivan -- leading a blind man into a door isn’t within ‘the category of a prank’ for a teenager old enough to serve in the military.]

“Recklessness is a common side-effect of adolescence — drinking too much, driving too fast. Meanness is another matter. Yes, teenagers are more prone to displaying the primal cruelty of ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Lord of the Flies’ than their grown-up selves. But the Queen Bees of middle school have an unpleasant tendency to grow into the Real Housewives of Wherever.”
– Ruth Marcus, “Romney’s troubling reaction to the bullying story,” Washington Post, May 11, 2012.

“Far more disturbing to me than Romney’s teenage viciousness is his insistence it didn’t happen. Scariest kind of bully.”
– Jeff Sharlet, journalist and author, in a Tweet.

“Compulsive, pathological lying, and due to this frequent self-contradiction especially about the fact of personal history; invented past and or excessive boasting about his successes…” […]
“[Sociopaths] Often demonstrate aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals…”
– From “List of common sociopathic traits that help to alert you to the danger” at The Psychopath in the Corner Office website.

“Psychopaths have a profound lack of empathy. They use other people callously and remorselessly for their own ends. They seduce victims with a hypnotic charm that masks their true nature as pathological liars, master con artists, and heartless manipulators.”
– Alan Deutschman, “Is Your Boss a Psychopath?” Fast, July 1, 2005.

“Antisocial Personality Disorder results in what is commonly known as a Sociopath. The criteria for this disorder require an ongoing disregard for the rights of others, since the age of 15 years. Some examples of this disregard are reckless disregard for the safety of themselves or others, failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors, deceitfulness such as repeated lying or deceit for personal profit or pleasure, and lack of remorse for actions that hurt other people in any way.”
– Derek Wood, RN, BSN, from “Antisocial Personality Disorder Overview

“What differentiates a sociopath who lives off the labors of others from one who occasionally robs convenience stores, or from one who is a contemporary robber baron — or what makes the difference between an ordinary bully and a sociopathic murderer — is nothing more than social status, drive, intellect, blood lust, or simple opportunity.”
– From “The Psychopath — The Mask of Sanity,” a Special Research Project of the Quantum Future School.

“There is a class of individuals who have been around forever and who are found in every race, culture, society and walk of life. Everybody has met these people, been deceived and manipulated by them, and forced to live with or repair the damage they have wrought. These often charming but always deadly individuals have a clinical name: psychopaths. Their hallmark is a stunning lack of conscience; their game is self-gratification at the other person’s expense. Many spend time in prison, but many do not. All take far more than they give.”
– Excerpt from “This Charming Psychopath: How to Spot Social Predators Before They Attack,” by Dr. Robert D. Hare.

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