During today’s early-morning news sweep, my eye caught on three stories in particular:
All three are relevant to the subject given by the title of this piece. The first is an example of how bullies prevail when not opposed by forces determined to stop them. The second is a rare example of a governmental bully – OSHA is a worse bully than any other government agency except for the EPA and the IRS – backing down before a swelling tide of popular anger. The third is a study in how an intelligent commentator, misled by the bullying behavior of political adversaries, can thereafter mislead himself. (I expect I’ll be asked what I mean by that last. Here’s my response: Think about it.)
Back in 2008, at Eternity Road, my beloved friend Duyen wrote:
There are a lot of bullies roaming around, these days. They’re more numerous and more various than ever before. Muslim bullies. Environmentalist bullies. Homosexual bullies. Union bullies. Anti-Catholic and anti-Christian bullies. Victimist bullies — like the irony in that? Educationist bullies. Bullies who want to disarm you and bullies who want to suck you dry. You can hardly avoid them, especially if you live and work in a large city.
They’re as many as they are because we failed our sacred responsibility as the gardeners of fertile soil: to pull the weeds before the roots go too deep to dig out. We told ourselves that it was our duty to tolerate even the most blatantly evil nonsense. Instead of punching back, we held our tongues. Look where that got us.
Today there are even more bullies than the ones Duyen named in the above. You could probably name half a dozen of them yourself. But their essence and the appropriate countermeasure to them remains as Duyen nailed it.
Not long after that, also at Eternity Road, I wrote:
Time was, America was understood to be founded on a clear, simple understanding of the manly virtues. A genuine man doesn’t bend the knee to any sort of bullying. He doesn’t concede for the sake of being liked; he doesn’t imagine that his moral standing requires that he surrender preemptively. He doubles his fists and shouts, “All right, bring it on. We’ll see who’s standing at the end of this.”
Your Curmudgeon has feared for some time that the manly ethic was irretrievably lost. A few have always displayed it, and a few display it today, but their number seems pathetically small: far too few to germinate a renascence of actual moral courage. Yet moral courage is the only thing that can withstand an onslaught of bullying. The great mass of men will only follow demonstrated courage.
Either we grow spines in sufficient quantity, and sufficient stiffness, to reverse the trend and put the bullies in their place, or America as we’ve loved it is doomed.
And just a few days ago, Ragin’ Dave wrote this:
[W]hat is it that we “tolerate”?
We tolerate things that are unpleasant. We tolerate things that are harmful. We tolerate things that are evil, and we tolerate them only up to the point where we can get rid of them. If I have a tick on me, I’ll tolerate that only up to the point where I can get my fine tweezers and remove it. If my car has a defect, I will tolerate that only up to the point where I can get it fixed. If my neighbors are throwing a wild party, I’ll tolerate that only up to the point where it starts to effect me personally, such as making it impossible for me to sleep.
The point being, you do not tolerate things that are good. You welcome things that are good. You only tolerate things that are bad.
Does a bully – regardless of the objective merits of whatever “cause” he claims to espouse – deserve to be tolerated? Are the net consequences of tolerating a bully good or bad?
Bullying – “Our military can beat the snot out of your military. Try us and see!” – is the sotto voce vocabulary of international negotiation. Many negotiations would be pointless without it. In this you have about 50% of my reason for hating governments – all governments.
As I have taken a private resolution to reduce the frequency with which I repeat myself this year, I’ll leave the matter there for my Gentle Readers to ponder.