Dear Commons Community,
Charles Blow is his New York Times column today uses the case of the grandmother being bullying on the school bus as a metaphor for American society. By now I am sure you have seen the video that shows Karen Klein, a 68-year-old grandmother and bus monitor in upstate New York, being relentlessly tormented by a group of young boys. They hurl profanities. One asks for her address because he says he wants to go urinate on her door. Others are more explicit about defiling her. One boy tells her that she doesn’t have a family because “they all killed themselves because they didn’t want to be near you.” (Her eldest son committed suicide.)
Blow makes the point that:
“Those boys are us, or at least too many of us: America at its ugliest. It is that part of society that sees the weak and vulnerable as worthy of derision and animus.
This kind of behavior is not isolated to children and school buses and suburban communities. It stretches to the upper reaches of society — our politics and our pulpits and our public squares.
Whether it is a Republican debate audience booing a gay soldier or Rush Limbaugh’s vicious attack on a female Georgetown law student or Newt Gingrich’s salvos at the poor, bullying has become boilerplate. Hiss and taunt. Tease and intimidate. Target your enemies and torture them mercilessly. Maintain primacy through predation.”
He goes on to cite statistics on minorities, women, attitudes to gays, and religion and concludes:
“The Republican-Democratic divide is increasingly becoming an all-white/multicultural divide, a male/female divide, and a more religious/less religious divide — the formers the traditional power classes, and the latters the emerging ones.
This has led to some increasingly unseemly attacks at traditionally marginalized groups, even as — and possibly particularly because — they grow more powerful.
Women are under attack. Hispanics are under attack. Minority voting rights are under attack. The poor are under attack. Unsurprisingly, those doing the attacking in every case are from the right.
I wish I could say that Blow is wrong in his conclusion but unfortunately there are elements of truth in what he says.