Like sunrise in the east or a Tony Romo interception in the fourth quarter of a meaningful, late season game you knew it was bound to happen. Somewhere, somehow some hack columnist from some tree-wasting fishwrap would seize upon the bullied bus monitor to decry incivility in politics. Republican incivility in politics. Republicans behaving badly because they hate seeing their hated objects of oppression – women, minorities, and gays – exist or something.
Our winner is Charles M. Blow from the New York Times. Charles! Come on down here and accept your coveted Silver Sow Award! I don’t think anybody saw this one coming. Outstanding job!
But what, if anything, does this say about society at large? Many things one could argue, but, for me, it is a remarkably apt metaphor for this moment in the American discourse in which hostility has been drawn out into the sunlight.
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.
Traditionally inferior identity roles are registered in a variety of ways. For Klein, she was elderly and female and not thin or rich. For others, it is skin color, country of origin, object of affection or some other accident of birth.
The country is changing, and that change is creating friction: between the traditional ruling classes and emerging ones; between traditional social structures and altered ones; between a long-held vision of an American ideal and growing reality that its time has passed.
And that change is coming with an unrelenting swiftness.
Oh yeah, it looks like there’s change coming with an unrelenting swiftness alright. It’s as plain on the nose on your face. In November of 2008 Democrats were patting themselves on the back and celebrating what appeared to be a mandated seismic shift in US electoral politics. Possibly even a new, permanent Democratic majority.
At least until the Republicans took back the House in 2010 and retake the Senate and White House in 2012.
Desperation is a stinky cologne. Why is it we’re only lectured on civility when Democrats hold the reins of power? Rhetorical question, Farley. Maybe you don’t mind smelling like a nut sack all day but I gotta be in the car with you.
Now by probability, the bullies on the bus were the children of Democrats. Greece, NY (that’s blue state New York there, Mr. Columnist for the New York Times) is in Monroe County. Monroe County, NY is reliably Democratic, going 58% to 40% for Barack Obama in 2008. So one might argue the bus bullying incident is merely indicative of how children are reared in heavily unionized, staunchly liberal enclaves. I mean, it’s not like New Yorkers are famous for their courtesy and manners.
On the flip side, as noted by NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof, the people who donated money to Karen Klein once the video went viral are more likely to be conservatives.
A study by Google found an even greater disproportion: average annual contributions reported by conservatives were almost double those of liberals.
Other research has reached similar conclusions. The “generosity index” from the Catalogue for Philanthropy typically finds that red states are the most likely to give to nonprofits, while Northeastern states are least likely to do so.
Seems to me that New York is a Northeastern state, Mr. Blow.
I didn’t come here to rag on New York. There are bad people everywhere. The bullying could have happened anywhere. But the fact it happened in a state and county where Democrats have been running things for years and it’s somehow illustrative of Republican incivility is amusing.
The next time a major fishwrap columnist sits down to bang out something about the incivility in politics today they should pull seven dollars out of their wallet. Abe Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. They knew a little about incivility in politics. It’s surprising so few of today’s opinion writers have even heard of the Civil War. I’d always heard it was kind of a big deal. Could it be a Republican freeing the slaves? It doesn’t fit the narrative so it’s subconsciously blocked out? Is it cognitive dissonance or laziness?
Anyway, did Blow miss the last couple of years in Wisconsin? Mr. Blow, a large group of Democrats gathered at the state capital to express their displeasure with the governor’s proposed reforms. Would you describe that group as “civil and eager for a frank and honest exchange of ideas” or “Governor Walker, for your safety we’re going to have to very quietly exit the building through the Cold War-era civil defense tunnels?”
How many times was Barack Obama interrupted by protestors during his acceptance speech at the 2008 convention? How many times was John McCain? I remember two for sure and possibly two more they kept off camera?
Civility on display in the 7091 comments to this Huffington Post article on the infamous shoe thrown at Bush in Iraq presser.
We could play tit for tat all day. So what? There are bad actors on all sides. Do you really want to play the civility game? Conservatives will win on ideas. Unless they’re shouted down or shown pushing seniors off cliffs or herding preschoolers into sweatshops.
Bill Clinton was a great bully with his cocksure style and finger-wagging condescension.
Last month, the Census Bureau reported that for the first time in the country’s history, minority births outnumbered those of whites. And The New York Times recently highlighted a Brookings Institution demographer’s calculations that, “minorities accounted for 92 percent of the nation’s population growth in the decade that ended in 2010.”
Furthermore, there are now more women in college than men, and a Pew Research Center poll published in April found that, “in a reversal of traditional gender roles, young women now surpass young men in the importance they place on having a high-paying career or profession.”
A Gallup poll released Thursday found that a record number of people (54 percent) say that they would be willing to vote for an atheist for president, and a Gallup poll last month found that more people support same-sex marriage than oppose it.
These dramatic shifts are upending the majority-minority paradigm and are making many people uneasy.
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.
Wait, the right is attacking women, Hispanics, minority voting rights and the poor? Why didn’t anyone tell me? I’ve been stockpiling ammunition and animus for fifteen years in anticipation of this moment in time and nobody fucking tells me it’s on!? Talk is cheap. Nothing says white male oppression like gunning down some minority voting rights and seal-clubbing some well-to-do law students petitioning the government for free birth control. Are we meeting up somewhere?
When you view life as a zero-sum game with Uncle Sam bearing full responsibility to determine what is fair or just then any position that doesn’t cater specifically to members of a
perpetually aggrieved protected class must be viewed as an attack on that group.
Remakes are all the rage these days, huh? Apparently Total Recall wasn’t as good as it could have been. 21 Jump Street, eh? Everyone complains about how Hollywood is bereft of ideas but every time another stupid reboot is released it makes enough money to keep the cycle going. How soon before we see Smokey and the Bandit in hybrids on the big screen?
I guess it couldn’t be any worse than this summer’s blockbuster remake, “The Angry White Male!” You’ll gasp as he forces women to spend $9 a month on birth control! You’ll turn your head as he expects everyone to respect U.S. laws even if they were born in another contiguous land mass! You’ll scream as he expects a voter to present a photo ID! You’ll pollute your britches in fear as he tries to chart a sustainable economic future for the poor, elderly, and, well, everyone else.
It’s about time things broke my way. We angry white males have been demonized quite a bit lately, but I believe you’ll find our reign to be prosperous as well as stern. The weak and vulnerable among you will be mocked and bullied – prepare to become intimately familiar with the inside of your locker, Blow – but only in an effort to help you overcome your weakness. Everyone’s barefoot, pregnant mothers will be in our kitchens; minorities will remain in the shadows doing the jobs we won’t. I’d also like to remind everyone that we have all the guns.
Frankly, it’s refreshing to be able to live down to Blow’s expectations. He’s got the right pegged. I’m only in it for the racism, misogyny, and brutalization of the poor. Fiscal sanity? All I hear is “Let’s get a rope!”