Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Bullied Nation

When Obama inaugurated a conference on bullying by announcing that he too had been bullied, he made the one confession that no world leader should ever make. At least not a world leader who ever hopes to be taken seriously. But by this time it was doubtful that there was a world leader who didn't know that Obama could be bullied. Many of them had been rather successful at bullying him already.

The goal of the conference, according to Obama, was to dispel the myth that bullying is "an inevitable part of growing up". But of course it is an inevitable part of growing up. And of being grown up too. If you don't learn how to handle bullies while growing up, you'll have to learn those same lessons later on in life.

We may grow up, but we never entirely leave who we were behind. The bullies will always be with us. Their bullying may become more sophisticated, but the old dynamic never really goes away.

When Obama spent half his correspondents dinner taunting Trump, it was a sight you could easily see in any school cafeteria. The difference is that he chose to do it in a forum where he had no fear of being answered back, using lines written for him by a writer from the Daily Show. It was bullying of the cowardly sort. Which just goes to show you that some of the bullied, harbor a secret wish to be bullies themselves. But when they get the chance to be bullies, they still practice it in a cowardly way.

Compare Bush's willingness to laugh at himself in a double act with Colbert at that same dinner years earlier, to Obama taunting his rivals when they're prevented by decorum from answering back. Just as he did to Paul Ryan. This is how a man who can dish it out, and can't take it, acts. And that's the difference between a man and an insecure child who never really grew up, whose emotional compass is still tethered to his childhood memories. Who still dreams of repaying minor slights and takes every criticism personally.

Obama may hold conferences on bullying, but he is the worst sort of bully, too cowardly to do it without a lot of protectors and plausible deniability standing between him and his targets. How many Republican car dealerships were targeted under O's car company regime, and what about the pass given to the New Black Panther party's voter intimidation tactics, or launching Operation Rushbo against one of his more vocal critics. Or using 'teabaggers' to describe his opponents. To say nothing of the thuggishness by teachers in Wisconsin. Strip away the billion dollar political machine and you're left with something that looks a lot like High School.

The obsession with childhood bullying is another misguided application of social engineering to children. Obama may speak of creating "an atmosphere at school where children feel safe". But no amount of government intervention can prevent kids from being bullied. And no government officials can teach them to stand up for themselves. Children and teenagers have their own culture apart from adults, and no matter how many bureaucrats poke and pry into their lives, they can never find their way inside. Instead of protecting them against bullies, the injection of bureaucracy becomes its own form of bullying.

After the Columbine Massacre, all the conferences on bullying yielded a Zero Tolerance madness that criminalized everything from toy soldiers to plastic knives to playing cops and robbers. Six year old cub scouts have been suspended for bringing camping equipment to school. Arrests have been made for shooting rubber bands. Advil and Midol have become controlled substances. An 11 year old was suspended because the chain on her Tweety bird wallet was found to be long enough to qualify as a weapon. Another 11 year old died because zero tolerance policies prevented him from carrying an inhaler. A National Merit Scholar was arrested and expelled because she had misplaced a kitchen knife on the floor of her car.

There will be no conferences held on this type of bullying, because it is practiced by the conference attendees, the school bureaucrats and teachers, and the public officials who enable them, against the children placed in their care. And their only solution to every problem is more of the same. More bureaucracy and more regulations. It is a form of bullying that most Americans have become terribly familiar with. And it is worse than any ordinary bullying, because while you can stand up to an ordinary bully, defying the government bureaucracy at every level is much harder.

As go the schools, so goes a nanny state in which everyone is treated like children. Subjected to constant regulation and supervision. Treated like incompetent wards of the state who need to be told what to do at all times. The cradle to grave state treats those at the grave, much as it does at the cradle, as nuisances who need to be brought into conformity with paragraph 19, section 32, subsection 92B of their marching orders circa this week. American history is the story of people who tried to escape the governments that were making them miserable, only for the bureaucrats to make it over anyway.

The nanny state promises that we will no longer be bullied by big business, and then gets down to the job of bullying us so thoroughly and relentlessly that the only escape is death. And not even then. For dying doesn't free you of the tangle of laws and regulations. It just puts your conscious mind beyond their reach. Like the protagonist of 'Brazil' your soul may escape, but your body is left behind under their authority.

Obama's promise of a safe atmosphere for every student reeks of the same thing. A paranoid hothouse in which a wrong word, a wrong look or a wrong implication can result in criminal prosecution under a new wave of Zero Tolerance enforcement. This vision of PS Stalag 17 is being realized not just in schools, but everywhere. The EUSSR has its political prisoners, and so will we, as any hindrance to public order becomes a crime. Bad ideas are held responsible for causing violence. The logic of Crimethink that arrests students for having something that is not a weapon, but has some common conceptual resemblance to one, dictates that a bullseye on a political map is the same thing as an assassination plot.

In the name of maintaining that hothouse atmosphere, independent traits or atavistic behaviors must be rooted out. The only properly safe nation is one in which all the people are sheep, and the guns are in the hands of the ranchers and the wolves. But from a sheep's perspective, the only difference between the ranchers and the wolves, is that the ranchers keep them alive longer than the wolves. Once the wolves come or the ranchers grow tired of them, the sheep have no survival skills left. Those were wiped out in order to keep a safe atmosphere for the herd.

European newspapers frowning at the sight of Americans loudly celebrating the end of Bin Laden posit that Americans and Europeans have different values. But it's not so much a matter of different values, as of different governments. European governments have built their stifling nanny states and declared many normal human behaviors to be against their values. But their ancestors would have taken issue with such a characterization of European values. As would the Italians who spat on Mussolini's upside down dangling corpse. American values are individualistic. And though the chains of political correctness creep over their shoulders, they still react like free men and women, rather than children afraid of being taken to task by their elders.

The new European values say that violence is bad regardless of its attribution. That only savages kill and relish a victory over an enemy. But when the traits of the fighter and the warrior are rooted out, then you are left with a nation of sheep. Ready for the taking. Europe has made itself safe enough to attract a southern and eastern breed of wolf. Lupine immigrants whose values are genuinely atavistic and who eagerly feed on nations of sheep.

That is the problem with locking up combative instincts and confiscating guns. Sooner or later you will need them. The world is not a hothouse, it is an ongoing struggle for land, life and resources. Countries do not exist because the UN mandated it, but because their people fought and died to make it so. Teach the people to be sheep, and the countries will not long survive their first encounter with the wolves. The American violent now atavism frowned on by the elites of the EUSSR is what stood between them and the wolves. It may end up doing that again before another centuries comes to its end.

The hue and cry over bullying carries an echo of that same fussiness. A philosophy in denial about human nature. Every defense against oppression ultimately becomes its own force of oppression. Books of regulations can be a far more ruthless form of oppression than a punch in the face. And a bureaucracy charged with rooting out modes of behavior quickly becomes the worst bully of all.

But the real danger of such a system is the learned helplessness that it teaches. When you are taught that it is better to submit than to fight, better to come over to the other point of view than stand up for your own, and better to be agreeable than make a fuss no matter what is being done to you-- then you are being taught to be a victim. People who think this way cannot be members of a free society, only frightened people looking for someone to protect them. They are victims looking for a predator. And a society of victims will attract predators.

The editor of the French left wing paper, Libération, wrote of "this base, uncomfortable joy, unprecedented in a democracy, that blew yesterday over the streets of New York." But such joy is rooted in democracy. The French ought to know that better than anyone else. Or has Monsieur Demorand completely forgotten the words of his own national anthem, that speaks of triumphantly watering the fields of France with the "impure blood" of her enemies. Freedom, national and personal freedom, is fought for by men and women who are not only willing to die for it, but are willing to kill for it. Not with the mechanical distance of bomber pilots, but the violent passion of human beings who refuse to submit to their enemies.

No democracy will survive for long without that "uncomfortable joy". It will either be consumed by the wolves from without or from within. The hothouse society is a nation of wimps. Easily bullied, always looking to some authority, some international law for its protection. When it is struck, then it takes refuge in its own moral superiority for not resorting to violence. Eventually it forgets how to hate and remembers only how to fear.

For a nation not to be bullied, its people must know how to stand up to bullies. Not to go along with them. Not how to understand their point of view. Or how to run and tell someone in authority about them. But how to fight back against them and win.


Elise said...

I generally enjoy your posts and find I agree with them wholeheartedly, however on this one you missed much of the point. While the President is a think-skinned bully that is certain, the idea that administrator and adults in charge of children should not and cannot do anything about bullying is tantamount to giving up authority as adults. Schools should not be turned into The Lord of the Flies.Also, this crap that children are just children and should be left to their own devices is absurd. Why do we teach our children anything then. Perhaps we should just let them all run wild without an education? Part of teaching children right from wrong is to teach them how to treat their fellow human being and that includes no bullying.

As the parent of a child who was severely bullied and then alienated in school I saw first hand the effects bullying has on children and quite frankly there is just so much standing up for yourself you can do when you stand alone- which most victims of bullying happen to be is quite alone. Quite frankly the responsibility of the adults who are charged in loco parentis with protecting your child is not creating more authority than they already have.

It is not horrible that the government also create laws against sexual harassment, age discrimination and ensure a safe workplace for people. This libertarian view that government has no responsibility and needs to go completely away is devoid of reality and quite frankly human nature.The founding fathers did not say no government, they called for limited government however, that is also something they left undefined which causes arguments to this day.

Lastly the reason the US is lagging today is because we have a leadership that allows it and cedes our authority. This truly is not bullying but a lack of leadership. These are two different things.

Lastly, just because your political opponent calls for some program or the other does not mean it is a bad idea. Just because the President called for an end to bullying and more adult responsibility when it comes to raising their children does not mean it is a bad idea.

Irwin Ruff said...

"that's the difference between a man and an insecure child who never really grew up, whose emotional compass is still tethered to his childhood memories. Who still dreams of repaying minor slights and takes every criticism personally."
Why is this a surprise? It has been evident for several years that the only thing that matters to O (and his wife) is HIMSELF. He acts according to how anything affect his personal feelings, and act accordingly.

As to the bullying actions by the (Obama) government, this is imposing a dictatorship by another name. Anyone who opposes the government (the state is Obama) is to be punished. And how long before opposing the government is defined as even speaking against the government? Don't we all adore the "Beloved Leader"?

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Elise, I don't believe teachers should tolerate bullying, but neither do I believe in programs that pretend they can eliminate it entirely. That's not possible.

Irwin, if the media had its way...

Ron said...


The problem is that 'the system' (gov't/schools/adminstrators/teachers/media) has well and fully crossed an important line in recent years.

No one wants to 'condone' bullying or throw children into a Lord of the Flies situation, but in the past, parents/teachers/society understood that their job was to educate/train a child's ego/superego, in order to equip them with the foundations and tools to make good decisions within their situation and natural tendencies.

Now - as Daniel and others have pointed out - we have stepped beyond that.

The Left has had a solid monopoly on Education for 40+ years, and they have long understood that in order to bring the whole of the population under their Central Planning of control, the first step is to dismantle the underpinnings and otherwise de-legitimize the existing system of controls (in this case, basic morality and self-discipline) in order to make its replacement seem more palatable - even necessary.

By introducing an acceptance of moral-relativism, devaluing fathers and the family in popular culture and otherwise maintaining the 60's-era drumbeat of "defy-the-old-for-old-is-wrong", the Left has set the stage for a population wherein many have become convinced that there is no Good&Evil or Right&Wrong, that the rules and social mores of their grandparents are as outdated and useless as that 100-year-old 'Constitution-Thing' and, further, that they - as individuals - actually have no Right to make judgments of their own... because that would be - well - judgmental.

What has happened here now goes beyond the Ego/Superego - now they are affecting the Id - breeding out of our children the ability - even the very inclination - to deal with negative or threatening stressors on their own, instead finding it completely natural to cede ALL such responsibility to an outside 'authority', whether that is the school district, the police or the federal government.

And it has taken hold - look at the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings: In both cases, students and (some) teachers crawled under their desks and waited for someone ELSE to save them - for someone ELSE to handle the problem. In both cases, the killers were able to WALK up to their victims and carry out their deeds completely unopposed, because those victims' fight/defense response was virtually non-existent. To borrow from LTC Grossman - When the wolves came, in the absence of sheepdogs, the sheep laid down and waited for death.
(Continued... dang character-limit)

Ron said...


I had a conversation very like this with my daughter just the other day, and I explained how no real good had come of this shift, because, in trying to 'pacify' the aggression inherent in the Id of all children for the pursuit of an all-harmonious society, that society has now been left COMPLETELY vulnerable to the 'Lone Whack-Job', whose Id and Ego are just faulty and whose SuperEgo has never SEEN an example of immediate and harsh consequences to his actions, from which to build the series of If/Then statements that might otherwise keep him from acting out his twisted impulses.

Even after explaining the whole thing in dispassionate, technical detail I could see that she didn't quite get/believe what I was saying, so I went for the allegorical anecdote, explaining that a Columbine/VT simply could NOT have gone down that way when/where I went to high-school (in rural central FL), because aside from the fact that you were looked upon as a curiosity if you didn't have your lock-blade in a case on your belt - aside from the fact that it was no great-shakes to come back to school after a weekend of hunting, and still have your rifle in the back-window of your truck in the school parking-lot - we were high-school-aged young MEN, with jobs and responsibilites and decision-making skills, who had grown up getting into fights, playing 'Army' or Cowboys&Indians and otherwise generally rough-housing and those fight/defense neural pathways had been FIRMLY established in our brains - there would have been no 'walk around and shoot at your leisure' for the Lone-Whack-Job, because the natural inclination was to run toward the sounds of conflict - people would certainly have died, but they would have been fewer and they would have died fighting... or at least TRYING.

And that - that fighting impulse to TRY - is what is being crushed & bred out of our society by this politically-correct, top-down-authority, abdication of our responsibilities as people.

And it starts with a zero-context, zero-tolerance approach that punishes the defender as well as the attacker, even as it reinforces an example of giving over your own decision-making to some version of Central Planning.

- Ron
(crap, I think I just wrote my next blog-post)

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