Friday, April 20, 2007

Blame the Victim

Keith Olbermann has been handing out Worst Person in the World awards to right-wing pundits like John Derbyshire of the National Review On-line. Derbyshire blamed the victims who, he says, did not resist the well-armed psychotic murderer in Blacksburg, Va:
Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It’s not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness’ sake—one of them reportedly a .22.
Another Olbermann honoree, Nathaniel Blake, seconds the emotion in Where were the men?:
College classrooms have scads of young men who are at their physical peak, and none of them seems to have done anything beyond ducking, running, and holding doors shut.
Well, of course they are beneath contempt for their ersatz macho.

Nobody knows what was going on in the room where Seung-hui Cho did his murderous deeds. Moreover, nobody knows what he or she would have done in those circumstances. And, as the story does come out, we learn about incredible acts of heroism.

Then there are the regular right-wing nut cases, like Rush Limbaugh, who said,
Now, if this Virginia Tech shooter had an ideology, what do you think it was? This guy had to be a liberal. You start railing against the rich, and all these other things? This guy is a liberal. He was turned into a liberal somewhere along the line. So it’s a liberal that committed this act.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the victims. Since I know nothing about the individuals who were killed or maimed, I will not debase myself by talking about them. But in a sense all of America was victimized by this crime.

The right wing political dialogue is characterized by bullying and intimidation. Anyone who has tuned into Bill O’Reilly knows this. Indeed, O’Reilly revels it. Take for an example his defense of airing the Cho videotape originally mailed to NBC:
Evil must be exposed and Cho was evil. You can see it in his face, hear it in his voice. All of us who saw the tape will never forget it. And it made me and millions of others angry. Once evil is acknowledged, steps can be taken to contain it. And once anger is in the air, policy can change.
Do you get it? In O’Reilly’s weltanschauung, there’s good and there’s evil in the world, and the only way to confront evil, is with anger. And lest we forget, we have recently seen the firing of Don Imus for his bullyboy attack on the student athletes at Rutgers, followed in short order, by Tom DeLay trying to throw his weight around to punish Rosie O’Donnell.

Am I out of line to say that on the right side of the political spectrum there is a culture of bullying? Hell, I’ve called those bastards fascists, so this is nothing new. In his 1989 book, Our Contempt for Weakness: Nazi Norms and Values — and Our Own, Norwegian scholar Harald Ofstad argues that the bully mindset is at the core of the fascist personality, and it especially reveals itself in misogyny.

Today we read in the National Post (Canada) that Barbara Coloroso, an author and expert on bullying opines that Cho was a “bullied bully.” As a special-education teacher who was living in Columbine during the 1999 high school massacre, Ms. Coloroso believes most school killers are victims of extensive bullying. Of the 23 high school massacres she has studied, 18 of the gunmen had been bullied. Certainly, we see in Cho’s history of stalking and his later statements, his disdain for women.

I won’t blame the victims of this horrible crime. But it is right for us to look to the greater society and ask ourselves what could have caused this young man’s mental illness to manifest with such tragic consequences? Could it be the culture of bullying that is part and parcel of the right-wing zeitgeist?

I am just asking.

“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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