The Bully

For those of you who wonder why I continuously bring up the malignancies of Michelle Malkin, I’d like to provide at least a partial answer (there’s more to it than I can tell in this post). It was when I read this post that I knew she would be my blood enemy forever. It was, of all things, a call for awareness of the misery that school bullies cause their victims, a call for respect for those weaker than ourselves, that drove Malkin to a new peak of odiousness.

The left-wing Kumbaya crowd is quietly grooming a generation of pushovers in the public schools. At a time of war, when young Americans should be educated about this nation’s resilience and steely resolve, educators are indoctrinating students with saccharine-sticky lessons on “non-violent conflict resolution” and “promoting constructive dialogues.”

Just what we need to combat throat-slitting, suicide plane-flying Islamists: young eunuchs swaying to moldy old folk music while their ‘Peace Place’ signs flap in the wind….Peaceniks are covering our kids from head to toe in emotional bubble wrap. They are creating a nation of namby-pambys.

It was when I saw this rebuttal of Malkin’s Mein Kamp-inspired article that I promptly blogrolled its authors, moving them immediately to the very top. If you really don’t understand why Malkin’s prescription is so depraved (and I choose the word carefully), be sure to check their deconstruction of it.

So why did this one post have such a deep effect on me? Because bullying is no laughing matter, and to condone it as an exercise of our “will” or “virility” or “toughness” is to condone brutality, torture. And I know.

Nearly every morning before getting up to go to school in 7th grade, I would lay in bed crying, afraid to move, afraid to talk to my parents, afraid someone would see the terror on my face. When I arrived at school, I knew that a brute named Arthur Lang would be waiting for me, waiting to push me down in the hall, waiting to kick my books across the hallway, waiting to call me a girl and a weakling. I had no idea why he did it. And I had no way out. I could only accept the humiliation and try to block out the laughter of my schoolmates. Once he pushed me off the schoolbus and I landed face-down in the snow, my nose bleeding. I remember the snow turning red, and my books and my homework soaked in slush, and trying to stand and pick everything up knowing others were watching and laughing, and walking home in a state of mortification and helplessness.

As I remember Arthur Lang now, this description of one of the characters in The Great Gatsby, Tom, rings in my ears:

Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body – he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage – a cruel body.

A cruel body…. Everything about Arthur Lang was cruel. The nightmare went on for three or four months. And then one day something very strange happened, In gym class, the teacher assigned Arthur Lang and me to be workout partners. I felt consumed by dread when the teacher pointed to me and then to Arthur. How was he going to torture me this time, I wondered. We had to help each other do sit-ups. I was struggling. And suddenly Arthur began to talk to me, for the very first time, like one human being to another. “It would be better if you did it this way,” he said, and he helped me. For about half an hour we worked together, while I waited the whole time for the monster I knew he was to strike again. It never did. And after that day, he never terrorized me again. I still don’t know exactly what happened. I can only guess he saw I was a human being.

But that wasn’t the end of my experience with bullies. In summer camp that year I was fair game because I brought my violin instead of my baseball mitt to the cabin, and I hated sports. One day I came into the cabin to find all the strings on my violin pulled out and the hairs on the bow snipped off. Worst of all, I found the most terrible solution to deal with the emotional torture, to convince myself I was strong, that I was valid: I found someone else weaker than me and I bullied him. Even now I can hear Freddie Cohen crying because I took one of his most beloved possessions (I cannot remember, no matter how hard i try, what it was) and I destroyed it. He lay there sobbing, and I taunted him some more. There was no excuse for what I did; I did it simply because I could. It is one of those moments where you think, if only I could go back and correct what I did and apologize. I would do anything, anything at all to go back and tell him how sorry I am, how I turned on him only because I had been turned on myself….

It all came to a stop when I was 15. Suddenly my tenor voice became a full deep bass and I was the star in my high school musical, I got confident, I got a girlfriend and I became “one of the popular kids.” Arthur Lang melted away, but any time I think about those three nightmare months, even today, I cringe; I feel physically sick.

The idea of one person forcing another through brute force to submit to his will, the idea of kicking and punching someone less powerful than you to show your own strength – the victim’s sense of humiliation can be pushed down, but it never fully goes away. Which is why I can be hyper-sensitive about the brutalities of the CCP, and why I always have to speak out when I see my government use raw, ugly force against perceived enemies, and when monsters like Malkin swoon, seeing this force as an example of virility and strength, as something good. As I read her insidious words confusing bullying with determination, a poem by Sylvia Plath came to mind:

Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.

And Michelle is just that type of woman.

There is nothing more terrifying than being a frightened child who knows the bully is coming for you, about to push his boot in your face, and knowing you have nowhere to turn. The experience was probably pivotal in determining the kind of person I’d be, the kind of work I’d do, the attitude I’d take toward politics, toward people who cut lines, toward the little guy persecuted by a thuggish government.

Bullying is a disease, in every way a terrible thing. Malkin’s philosophy is that it’s alright until it reaches the point of being a jailable felony. She is wrong, of course, and it’s pretty clear she wasn’t bullied as a child. There’s nothing wrong with teaching children to respect one another and refrain from acts of sadism. Anyone who says otherwise is probably a bully herself.

Update: There is another splendid take-down of Michelle’s worldview over here:

I imagine that Michelle practices what she preaches, and when her children squabble, she has them fight it out with switchblades and Uzis, in order to prepare them to deal with suicide plane-flying Islamimists.

The Discussion: 21 Comments

Ugh. Have we all had experiences like that? I did in junior high. One very large girl who was bussed in from the “bad” side of town picked on me. One time I just snapped, got in her face and asked WHY? I’d never done anything to her. I remember her friend (who was quite nice on her own) standing there, behind her, sort of amazed and appalled. But that was the end of that problem. She stopped.

Worse were two surfer girls who targeted me in gym class. Just merciless. Finally, one time in the locker room, I, uh, knocked one of them over a bench. Ass over teakettle, as they say. She landed in a heap against the locker. Never bothered me again.

So, not sure what that says about conflict resolution, but that’s what worked for me.

What’s particularly odious about Malkin is that she makes the bullying the victim’s fault.

November 16, 2007 @ 1:51 am | Comment

Tnx for sharing Richard. Thats pretty deep and personal stuff. As Otherlisa says: Have we all had experienses like that?

Well, me too. Guess mine lasted longer (7-8 years or so, and not one particular bully, but a few from my own class). I never let it get to me hard enough not to go to school or be afraid too though. Not sure anymore, since there were so many incidents that it kinda became a blur. So there weren’t one special mark to look back on as yours. But I expect it made its mark in some way or another. It stopped when I finished school and all classmates split up and went to highschool. Many new classmates and new “identity”. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tnx for sharing Richard. I did help me get why you hate her. Can’t say that I like her much myself.

November 16, 2007 @ 4:31 am | Comment

Very well written Richard. Thank you.

November 16, 2007 @ 10:08 am | Comment

Well done Richard.

This type of attitude, unfortunately, isn’t limited to Malkin. After the Virginia Tech shootings, a National Review journalist named John Derbyshire wrote that the victims were partially to blame for being shot because they didn’t fight back, even suggesting that he (a middle-aged Brit) would have at least tried to confront the killer.

What I find interesting is how much of the world view of people like Malkin can be explained in the context of schoolyard bullying. I remember once getting into it with a commenter on Tom Maguire’s blog who said that liberals were physically weak. I replied that I was a proud liberal- and a 6 foot 2 (1m87), 220 pound (100kg) former weightlifter and athlete. He actually accused me of lying.

But for all of Malkin’s perceived toughness, and her ridiculous John Doe shtick aimed at rooting out domestic terrorists, what has she ever sacrificed? Malkin is in her 30s, certainly of military age, yet she didn’t volunteer to fight for the wars she so stridently promoted. Whenever she experiences a significant pushback from liberal critics, she attributes their animus to anti-Asian racism, in effect surrending her ground completely.

Richard’s non US-readers may find some of this inside blog material off the point or trivial, but as an American let me assure you that Malkin’s views speak for a lot of people. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that Malkin was read and taken seriously by people in the White House. Her worldview: that compromise is cowardice, that negotiation is for the weak, and that brute force is an effective substitute for any dispute all resonate within the halls of American power.

November 16, 2007 @ 11:52 am | Comment

Thanks for the comments. I am afraid Matt is right – to a lot of Americans, Malkin’s idea of “strength” is appealing. They get excited at the notion of “steely resolve,” forgetting that Stalin was the “Man of Steel” and that for Hitler the key to utopia was “the will” and “struggle” – cold, steely, closed-minded resolve with no concern for rational thought or dialogue.

Lisa, it is odd how it works, how the bully targets his or her prey with no discernible rhyme or reason. Maybe they have a special radar that allows them to single out more susceptible, vulnerable people, exactly the type of people who will feel the torture the most. Of course, to Malkin, we are just namby-pambys and the onus is on us because we didn’t go after the tormentor with a pickaxe.

November 16, 2007 @ 4:14 pm | Comment

Richard, I think it’s mostly about being different. These surfer girls were the popular girls – I mean, they had Farrah bangs! And I was not athletic, I was a smart kid, back when people actually used to call smart kids “egg-heads.” I imagine you were an “egg-head” too – and an opera lover! Definitely suspicious.

I don’t think we should be teaching our kids to go after the Islamonazis with their own personal AK-47s, but to me it was instructional that my bullies folded as soon as I confronted them. The first girl, for whatever reason, just that I stood up to her verbally was enough. Maybe she thought about the irrationality of what she was doing, I don’t know. The surfer chicks, once I basically decked the ringleader, I guess they decided I was crazy or worthy of respect – who knows? But that was the end of the harrassment.

The problem is that these situations seem to escalate so much more now. I certainly never thought that these girls had knives or guns or would do anything horrifically violent (though Sheila, the big girl – she was pretty scary). I suppose in the bullying scenario I was the one you’d worry about striking back with excessive force, nowadays.

That’s another thing that’s so weird about Malkin’s argument – she worships “strength” and “steely resolve,” and is against namby-pamby peace-loving conflict resolution, basically when you boil it down, she’s giving carte blanche to the buillied to respond with schoolyard massacres. That illustrates “steely resolve,” right?

November 16, 2007 @ 4:28 pm | Comment

The very words “steely resolve” make me sick. No one had more steely resolve than Pol Pot, Stalin, Mao, and Saddam Hussein, not to mention the big H., whose book about struggle is a case study on the mind of the psychopathic bully.

November 16, 2007 @ 4:51 pm | Comment

Funny, because the big H strikes me as the type who was bullied โ€” and lashed out in an insane, grandiose way. Mao and Stalin, different types entirely. Mao from what I’ve read was a bully. There’s a book by a school friend called “Mao Zedong and I were Beggars” – you can argue about its accuracy as the author eventually fled to Taiwan, and the stories about Mao’s early life are things he was repeating rather than events he actually witnessed – but to me his account has a ring of truth to it, when you place it in the context of other biographies.

November 16, 2007 @ 5:12 pm | Comment

Richard,
Although I was never the victim of bullying I think I understand how it must feel.
I would love to live to be say 80? Healthy to the last and one day go in my sleep. But I fear that the bullies are out get us!
Everytime I turn on the television I hear bad news and read how one country or countries bully another. Ok, Iran is standing up to America on fundamental policy doctrine, thus in effect rejects US control of the Middle East. But Iran is hardly a threat to almighty US. On the contrary, it has for years been the victim of outside powers. Say in recent memory, when the US and Britain overthrew its parliamentary government and installed a brutal tyrant in 1953, and when the US supported Saddam Husseinโ€™s murderous invasion, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Iranians, many with chemical weapons, the โ€œinternational communityโ€ did not lift a finger And then it was under severe sanctions as a punishment for disobedience.
Furthemore, neither is Iran a military threat to Israel, and whether it’s a common or an uncommon knowledge that Israel however regards Iran as a threat, simply because it seeks to dominate the region with no interference — Oh, okay, Iran might be some slight counterbalance, while also supporting domestic forces that do not bend to Israelโ€™s will. So, is this what all the hoopla is about?

Oh, let’s not forget America’s old cold war mate, Russia, and its President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin’s angry reaction to the US plans for a missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. So now, after a 15-year hiatus, Russia has resorted to its own dangerous gestures, including the recent decision to renew long-range patrols by nuclear-capable bombers.
It is widely recognized that the use of military force in Iran would risk blowing up the entire region, the rhetoric about Iran has escalated to the point where practically the whole US / UK press accept it as legitimate and, in fact, honorable, that โ€œall options are on the table,โ€ to quote Hillary Clinton and possibly even nuclear weapons. โ€œAll options on the tableโ€ means that Washington is threatening war.

But wait a minute, the UN Charter outlaws โ€œthe threat or use of force.โ€

Um, not surprisingly, once again, the United States has chosen to become in de facto an outlaw state, disregarding international laws and norms. But of course, USA is allowed to threaten anybody it wants — and to attack anyone it chooses; nothing new there.

Whether be by accident or by design based on lies, Washington’s war planners or their Israeli surrogate might decide to escalate their 2nd Cold War into a mudda effing hot one โ€“The fear is therefore not just in the Middle East as the potential threat is a terminal thermal nuclear war….the ultimate bully’s weapon.

November 16, 2007 @ 9:12 pm | Comment

Well, CK, I don’t agree with everything you’ve written here, but I heartily agree that George Bush is a bully of the worst sort, and one who never grew out of his bullying.

November 17, 2007 @ 1:31 am | Comment

“Richard’s non US-readers may find some of this inside blog material off the point or trivial, but as an American let me assure you that Malkin’s views speak for a lot of people.”

I can’t remember where I saw it, but there was a Q&A session for McCain about a year ago at a US university and a bunch of fat rednecks stood up as a group and stated their unwavering support for the war despite McCain’s opinions and experiences.

After they spoke, another student who had just come back from 1-2 tours in Iraq stood up to agree with McCain and then asked the rednecks why didin’t they go find the campus military recruiters and sign up if they were so supportive of the war. Dead silence from the whole redneck ensemble and McCain actually had to come and save their butts by saying that it is possible to be patriotic without having to sacrifice lives, but also gave a strong nod to the Iraqi vet on his stance regarding backing up political opinions with action.

November 17, 2007 @ 3:35 am | Comment

i kind of agree that CIA and america government might their biggest accountant and audit companies like PWC, Earnest Young, KPMG etc spy on china and chinese economy, its horriable to expose all these things to CIA and american government.

November 17, 2007 @ 6:18 am | Comment

Boy, So I have my list of pet peeves on China, don’t we all? Yet I enjoy living here. I do occassionally miss HK but I also enjoy living in China. In fact, I’ve from my observation noticed that it seems cultural in the English speaking world to complain. I dunno why, but I am trying hard not to fall into that trap. I have friends from the Philippines and Samoa and of course many in China, and by comparison they are somehow much more gracious & accommodating. Having said that, I kinda of agree with my American friend that Asian Americans on the other hand tend to..er…seem to….um, (Damn, how do I complete this sentence without sounding like a racist and a generalizing prick?) …I can’t! So, let me just shut the eff up now. Talk about serving foot …cheers

November 17, 2007 @ 8:55 am | Comment

OPs! Sorry….I just realized that I’d posted my above comment in the WRONG article….it should be in the other where IVAN was calling every person twerps, CCP ass kissers etc; for not having negative things or complains about China.
I think Richard is one of a handful of the most balanced, sincere and fair-minded China -bashing bloggers without the usual — very much unlike the majority,stupid ignoramus mindless rabid know-it-all guests and ex-guests of this country— loudmouth expat traits. This is why I keep coming back to read what Richard has to say on Peking Duck, sorta for an occassional fine tuning. Keep up the good work.

November 17, 2007 @ 9:36 am | Comment

Interesting you bring up McCain. He’s as big of a hawk as anyone, but he at least has integrity. When Giuliani recently compared the torture method of sleep deprivation to his campaign for president I almost felt physically ill, and McCain was the only one on his side with the guts to put Rudy in his place. Then again I’d be terrified of a McCain presidency, just as I would with the rest of the Republican lot and more than a few Democrats. Sorry bunch they are, really.

November 19, 2007 @ 2:29 am | Comment

Richard,

Your contribution resonated deeply with me as I was bullied in school on and off for five or six years. I don’t think I have recovered yet.

Recommended reading, if you ever have the time:

Ofstad, Harald. Our Contempt for Weakness: Nazi Norms and Values–and Our Own. Gothenburg: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1989.

November 19, 2007 @ 5:05 am | Comment

@ otherlisa,

Everyone is a critic of Bush and his policies these days – so what? Bush’s approval rating is at 30%, maybe less now. Presidents come and go, they’re just part of the show and theatre of distraction.

Study history both official and alternative versions; take the two world wars and the non-stop US so-called & sometimes convincing but more importantly actually believed — justifiable atrocities committed overseas — since Hiroshima and Nagasaki against this & that: Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and on and on & the deep swamp of hatred out of which led to the 911 WTC attacks – that led to the aforementioned present US Presidential unpopularity.

One of my most admired American MIT professors, and prominent American foreign policy critics, Noam Chomsky (In fact my above comment was almost 100% gleaned from Chomsky’s writing)about a year ago,when asked about all the stuff the American Left are saying about US gov’t’s complicity in the 911 attack was to steer the world into WW3, responded with something to the effect, “Who cares? So what if it is true; so what if all the energy that is put into the research of the who, what, how and whys of JFK’s assassination turned out to be true, who cares? We have more important things to consider…”!!! What?!

Chomsky, who opened my eyes to see American authoritarianism; who also confused me with the ideals of Anarchism albeit unattainable but which he champions (?), and now again he opens my eyes about who he really is all these time — A distraction.

I used to believe in democracy and thought that the world is a better place because of what the West represents thanks to its Christian heritage without the outdated theocracy, and in its stead the Constitution to safe guard freedom of speech etc, etc, etc; i.e. until I read what the founding fathers had to really say about it in private and in context with the times and the long planned process of world domination as laid out by General Albert Pike, the betrayals of America by its many selected “President-elect,” blah blah blah…The truth is out there hidden in plain sight; the question is how do we decipher ’em?

Richard, the principality or spirit entity that possess every bully in the world comes in all shades of colors, shapes and sizes. You are doing a great job exposing them as you see and encounter them. Thank you.

November 19, 2007 @ 6:28 am | Comment

CK, I’m about ready for a yurt in the redwoods, personally…

I think that constitutional democracy is a pretty good system (by no means perfect) but what we have these days is an oligarchy masquerading as a democracy. I just don’t know where in this world the options are any better.

November 19, 2007 @ 4:32 pm | Comment

otherlisa,

Ha ha, I prefer a log cabin …

I agree that “constitutional democracy is a pretty good system” and that it is “by no means perfect” — but, however, what about?nevertheless…..Ops, time to go collect and chop up firewoods….

November 20, 2007 @ 10:05 am | Comment

You present something of a false choice CK, if I’m reading you correctly. You critique America as a bully in foreign policy and then say America’s democratic system is to blame. However, there’s no reason that America can draw down its imperial endeavors while maintaining- even strengthening- our democratic system of government. Remember that one of the frightening corollaries to the war on terror has been the steady erosion of civil liberties at home, civil liberties that have always been denied citizens living under authoritarian means.

All democratic systems of government are flawed, and America’s in particular has serious structural disadvantages. But a proper authoritarian government (like China) or a Chomsky-esque anarchist state? No thanks.

November 20, 2007 @ 3:30 pm | Comment

I agreed with Lisa and I agree with Matt S, that constitutional democracy though is by no means perfect is, no could’ve been or is potentially, a pretty good system.

As for “Chomsky-esque anarchist state,” like I said, I don’t think it is attainable and even if it is, it is most likely unsustainable. Besides, other than it existing in the minds of some people there isn’t such a state in power anyway is there?

Everybody knows that America is a republic –not a democracy, the mob don’t rule. America is suppose to be a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them. Tragically, What it is now is in defacto the rule of a few and its citizens are being misrepresentated by corrupt representatives to endlessly wage wars on countries after countries in the name of justice while denying justice to others; all the while preaching freedom when in truth it is really so that US interests alone are served (free access to foreign resources, wealth and to freely control foreign powers), and in the name of the rule of the mob, i.e. democracy when in fact the rule of plutocrats – rule of the few, is the undeniable ipso facto —which is but the perpetuation of the same lies/hypocrasy of all past empires.

Held to a higher standard by the world community against so-called developed nations, the “west” fails miserably and continously so. Indeed, “civil liberties that have always been denied citizens living under authoritarian means” is now a reality in the present US oligarchy! Hence many of its citizens (particularly those of lower social and financial status) suffer greatly while its manipulated friends & foes suffer comparatively far worse fates, not to mention the precarious future the human species is bullied into, thanks to these prolific producers of WMD, these world dominists’ and their “One Government New World Order.”

November 21, 2007 @ 9:29 am | Comment

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