Friday, June 29, 2018

Is the deck stacked in favour of the bullies?


Bombast, braggadocio, revenge, pay-backs…these are arrows in the quiver of the most desperate. They are like the cheap thrill that comes from a roller-coaster ride, or the thrill of a military recruit shooting his first human victim….titillating, scintillating, perhaps even orgasmic. And the machines that produce thrills for profit have grown, as has the market for these candy-floss gulps of entertainment candy.

Serious thought, mediation, reconciliation, even arbitration, debate and argument….those are the arrows of the so-called ‘effete’ and the ‘intellectuals’ and the prima donna’s and the arrogant and the privileged…at least so the argument goes among the trumpcult.

Inverse snobbery, deeply embedded in the psyche of the self-appointed victims in any situation, will generate violence that exceeds by at least half, the original injustice, even if there were one. And joining the gang of self-declared victims only exacerbates the imbalance of revenge over injustice.

The current Oval Office occupant is the high priest of the victim-cult, personalized and magnetized into a self-serving and dangerous killing machine that appears on the surface to be unarmed. Although he has not fired a specific weapon, (missiles in Syria, and war games off Korea excepted) his verbal arsenal is stocked with vituperative language, and an even more venomous attitude that finds enemies over and under every rock and every perceived rock….for the thrill of the attack.

Pay-back, revenge, vituperation, decimation and destruction, all of is justified in the mind of the alleged victim (like education, everyone has at some time been a victim and momentarily wanted revenge, calling it justice). And the capacity to round up victims through social media, and through a deliberately designed campaign to elicit their wrath, (recall the epithet, there is nothing more dangerous that a woman wronged!) is not merely immoral, unjust and lethal. It is also, like a sudden epidemic, out of control, because the forces that normally hold this “beast” in check, simply do not choose to engage in a mud-bath that will destroy everyone and everything, like a scorched earth policy in war.

Those who value, even champion a post-secondary education that includes rubbing shoulders (and minds) with others who have proven themselves as scholars, as well as the challenge of reading, interpreting, debating and discerning nuances of meaning in multiple situations, irrespective of the academic discipline, simply are not reducible to pre-pubescent slanderous name-calling bullying that, like rotten festering garbage casts a pall over the public discourse initiated, enhanced, and emboldened by leaders like trump and the anti-human, anti-immigrant, anti-science, climate deniers, and corporate profiteers who refuse to put their energies into collaborative and creative solutions to what are the world’s shared and highly serious problems.

Rather than ameliorate conflict, they exacerbate it!

Rather than take steps to enhance encourage and empower the reduction of carbon emissions, they exacerbate them! (And the U.S. withdraws from the Paris Accord)

Rather than use formal institutions for resolving trade tensions, they berate their enemies, and thereby exacerbate the trade imbalances, and enhance the culture of conflict!
Rather than offer support and hope, work with dignity to those working two or three jobs, (if they have even one) they use them as pawns in their rhetorical war on fake enemies.

Rather than engage in a full discussion of the facts of any and all public issues, they manufacture their own version, leaving the truth as exhaust from their toxic tail-pipes, to model a modus operandi for all youth to emulate of bullying, revenge, vituperation and pay-back.

Rather than seeking to enhance and ennoble and enable international institutions, they berate, deride, dismiss and eventually withdraw from those very institutions. (Yesterday reports indicate the U.S. intends to withdraw from the World Trade Organization, in which forum, the U.S, has ‘won’ 85% of all disputes submitted to it.)

Rather than seeking to reduce the arms race, the U.S. proudly and unashamedly boasts of monstrous sales to various countries including Saudi Arabia.

Rather than seeking to ennoble and enhance the provision of human rights across the world, the U.S. formally withdraws from the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Rather than extending a helping hand to desperate refugees and asylum-seekers, too many countries are erecting mental walls against “enemy aliens” whose lives they would never choose to share or even be able to withstand.

Rather than seeking common ground on gun control legislation, the American administration “sleeps” with the NRA, and the gun manufacturing lobby, as one of, if not the most important allies.

We are facing not only the horrendous, heinous and debilitating policies of right-wing administrations, but we also face the spectre that the professional, educated, reasonable, collaborative and creative responses to these policies, attitudes, beliefs and vindictive actions will fail to generate the kind of media attention, and thereby public support that can or will “quarantine” and actually remove such “leaders”…who mock everything we used to consider responsible, mature, measured and tolerant.
Does anyone really think or believe that marching in the streets will change the power imbalance? The “thugs” are laughing and chortling about all the protests, they actually claim to have engineered with their venom.

This is not merely a test of wills; it is an existential test of the survival of the institutions of governance that have been created over the last two or three hundred years, not to mention the survival of the planet’s ecosystem. And, the current and future prospects of the conflict between the vindictive bullies and their self-declared and defined effete enemies is analogous to a one-armed quadriplegic entering the boxing ring to fight Muhammad Ali. In the first place, the sense of outrage and passion among the ‘mob’ far outweighs the passion and commitment of the other side; the audience among the public is far more ready and receptive for the message of the ‘mob’ than the audience for the other side; the content of those seeking vengeance is far more inflammatory and incendiary, raising unleashed emotions of anger, contempt and mob-like crowds from history who have yelled various taunts like Crucify Him, Lock her up…and the like. The rhetorical devices, repetition, lies, personal attacks, distortions, and “poor-me” epithets and slogans simply will never be resorted to by the trump opponents. After all, what is civilization comprised of, if not moderation, professional respect, logic, facts, rhetorical devices like balanced and appropriate comparisons, analogies and rational and researched projections?

Imagine for a moment a movie scene in which a clergy confronts an armed mob boss. There will be no contest and we would likely never even find the body of the clergy, nor evidence to convict the mob boss. That’s the kind of imbalance the public institutions face in the United States and other countries “run” (certainly not governed) by thugs.

Add to the rhetorical devices and the range of argument and respect open to both sides, the overwhelming evidence that the media simply self-indulges in violent conflict, even of the verbal kind. They bank on increased ratings and inflated advertising sales when the media turns white hot.

Pinning public hope on Robert Mueller’s report, while one of the few remaining life-lines left to bring this gang to “heel” is clearly not a sure thing, especially with the over-arching threat, “I can pardon myself from anything!” (And the corollary, if I can pardon myself, then I can certainly pardon anyone else I deem appropriate!)

Joined at the proverbial hip, to this political behemoth is a sycophant and servile Republican majority in both houses of Congress and a an underpinning  determination, shared by both Congress and the White House, to appoint right-wing justices to all open courts, including now especially another Supreme Court Justice, using the publicly and proudly  disclosed litmus-test of a guarantee from any nominee to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Like the unarmed, innocent, professional and respectful* (even of enemies) staff at the Annapolis Gazette yesterday, the public faces a similar, angry, incensed, and both armed and ready to shoot opponent in the current administration. And after all the dust has settled, where will the arbiters of stability, moderation, reason, science, respect for all, come from, given a complete and final take-over by the current mob?


*The paper refused to press formal charges in 2013, against yesterday’s shooter, according to reports today, when threatening messages appeared on social media targeting the paper and its personnel.

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