How to End the Bully Culture in America

bully in america

Looking at the spate of rape allegations in the halls of power and trust – is it starting to make sense now?

I wrote a piece on bullying a while back. I have since seen many similar writings on the pervasive bully culture in America. Many young people fixated on what they were raised to believe by often busy, cosmetic and perhaps not so reflective guardians – keeping up appearances – may be bullies, crass and rude, but do not even realize it. (Not all; there are many decent well-raised young millennials and “Generation Nexters”). There is no deep understanding of these concepts among many. An endemic apathy exists – the goal is: just superficially belong somewhere and be driven by crass materialism—buy the latest smart phone, the latest fashion, and you’ll be fine.

Even the language of discourse and negotiation connotes bullying and a dearth of sincerity or authenticity: we talk about using the “bully pulpit” to negotiate, and “faking it, till we make it.” These are normal terms our society is comfortable using everyday.

I am genuinely happy about a few people including Nigerians, who graciously told me they read what I write. But how far can my writing go? Where can it reach? Even a few non-Nigerians have told me on the side, that they read what I write, and I am flattered by it.

And I am also glad clever people read me. Once I tried to pick some of my “distant readers” minds to see, if my frankness and willingness to point out thorny issues in American society is misconstrued. I did this with two people: a man and a woman – what balance! The lady said, “No, you love America – and it is actually rather obvious.” She emphasized that I use an American privilege – First Amendment’s freedom of speech – to express myself. Journalists have been killed in Nigeria (and elsewhere) by dictators for trying to express themselves. Consequently, I am appreciative of this fact and privilege that I enjoy in America.

The second person, a former government official, who discusses with me as I express my views, said, “then change it. That is what America is about, if something is wrong and you do not like it, then you change it.”

Did you know you can change the whole constitution? Through amendments.

Anyway, that was some needed divagation for clarification. Back to the culture that needs to be changed. I said pigs would fly if “somebody” became President, and when it comes down to it, the American Presidency is too noble an office and a cross-section of Americans recognizes this. Surely, Americans are circumspect regarding, who occupies it. Well…

And then I looked better at society’s role in all of this. The open racism against blacks, I thought – American society is yet to eliminate it, because it is too uncomfortable a topic, you know? But the open misogyny, numerous other offenses and the stark-naked reality that someone was absolutely unfit for the job, would not pass muster—surely. But, well…

I looked carefully, apart from people getting jobs they are not qualified for – and no it is not black people. (America is the great leveler, and that is perhaps a good thing, because an unfair aristocracy is precluded from being instituted – that is the logic, but is it true in practice?)

Arguably, only Richard Nixon has been a more qualified candidate for President of the United States than Hillary Clinton. Nixon, who became Vice President at the age of 40, after being a Congressman and Senator, often served in the capacity of President, because of President Eisenhower’s poor health. So, Nixon often did the job of President, while serving as Vice President. In fact, he raised the status of the position of VP, because of how he had to step in often for an ill President Eisenhower.

Hillary Clinton apart from being First Lady and a US Senator, also served as the real second most powerful person in the U.S. government in the Obama administration, which is the Secretary of State. The Vice President is just really a person, waiting for the President to no longer be President so, he/she can step in – until Nixon raised the profile of the VP office, when he filled in for an ill, but popular President Eisenhower.

Does it matter that many not so “qualified” people have gone on to be among the best U.S. Presidents, like Lincoln and Barack Obama?

First, they were not egregiously unqualified and unfit for the position.

Second, apart from having great acumen (intellect), charisma, energy and empathy for Americans, they had another huge qualification, through their life experiences, for the role. They had character, which they developed by overcoming hardship or discrimination. Many successful U.S. Presidents have known pain, suffering and marginalization: Lincoln overcame abject poverty, loss of his mother as a boy and other close family; being an autodidact, and his battle with depression, all prepared him – as he was not broken. The patrician turned populist, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, struggled with adult polio, which crippled him. Perhaps due to his illness, FDR consequently developed great empathy for people, who struggled like the common man and average American (although he had been born into fabulous wealth).

Barack Obama dealt with the complexity of being raised by a white mother and white grandparents, but being discriminated against as a black man. He also had to struggle with being accepted by the black community in America. He lost his bid for Congressman to former Black Panther, Bobby Rush, who just had to say: “he ain’t one of us.” Meaning: he has an African name, he looks black, but he is not African American.

Hillary Clinton had the character for it. Look at the terrain and the hidden rape culture and not so hidden misogyny. Imagine: a white woman once told me, she had to pretend she is not smart, because men do not find it attractive. Hillary Clinton has risen and comported herself with dignity playing the game in arguably the most paternalistic and patriarchal society in the West. She was valedictorian of her class and graduated from Yale Law School, the number one ranked law school in America. Her acumen was on display to the world as she wiped the floor with candidate Trump, in each debate they had. Apart from the acumen and job qualifications, she had the requisite character as well to be President, because she has risen to the top in an openly sexist culture. The endemic rape culture that female professionals struggle with suggests this.

When there were revelations and allegations of outright sexual assault that would have normally terminated a candidacy, despite the cries, a cross-section of Americans was inured to it, because it was an extant practice that was yet to be challenged. Abusive behavior toward women had become the new normal in America (similarly, many women, perhaps in reaction, have become abusive towards men and other women, and expect them to suck it up). Do not misunderstand me: there are many decent men in America and even politicians, but it is the American way—sometimes—not to complain, but to accept the injustice of some rogue players. Just like society has long winked at the transgressions of rogue cops, abusing African Americans.

When the inherent dignity of women was violated publicly and should have outraged all Americans, who at least have a relationship with a woman, if they were not females themselves? I mean, America just overlooked it, because it happens. Suck it up—the American way?

Perhaps, it is time the bully culture is checked in America. We can start by stop giving unqualified bullies jobs decent people are qualified for, only so they can ride roughshod over everyone—women too. Because what happens is that they end up catapulting the entire environment right back to the stone-age, if they do not blow it to smithereens.


Bullying is the new normal in America

I Was on the Uncomfortable End of a Criminal Accusation

Written by
Olurotimi Osha
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