Turk’s News-in-Brief: The Playground Gets Even Tougher

2010 October 18
by Turk Studzel

Sometimes enlightenment comes from the strangest places. The other day, for instance, I was idly scrolling through the New York Times, when it nearly jumped off the screen at me, seven paragraphs down in “The Playground Gets Even Tougher,” a Fashion & Style feature offering a new angle on “bullying,” our nation’s issue du jour. The article recounted the travails of “Scarlett,” the young daughter of a “Williamsburg artist” who was being victimized by “mean-girl behavior” in her East Village kindergarten; the reporter’s point, apparently, was to show us that little girls, too, can be beastly. Well, I didn’t need the Times to tell me that. More interesting was the news that the “feel-your-pain” Democrats in the Obama administration had jumped on the issue:

In Washington, at a “Bullying Prevention Summit” in August, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced stepped-up efforts in elementary schools, noting, “Bullying starts young — and we need to reach students when they are young with the message that bullying is not O.K.”

Capt. Stephanie Bryn, a Public Health Service officer overseeing the government’s “Stop Bullying Now!” program, is initiating a campaign geared toward 5- to 8-year-old children this fall. “Girl relational bullying has been under the radar,” she said. […] “We realized we need to address this in kindergarten.”

Suddenly, I had a vision of Barack Obama dressed as Uncle Sam and standing athwart the globe, a benevolent Father-Knows-Best colossus. Stern and full of tough love, he was reaching his long arms down among the bickering peoples of Asia, Africa, South America, and Europe, gently but forcefully breaking up fights and putting all the bullies in their places. Yes, soon the United Nations would convene its own “Bullying Prevention Summit,” and in sensitive, peace-loving nations the world over “Stop Bullying Now!” programs would be the norm.

But I’m being ironic to the point of absurdity, of course. A Washington“Bullying Prevention Summit”? You’ve got to be kidding. Remember, this is an administration that claims the prerogative to execute, with no judicial due process, anybody it deems a threat; an administration that has done everything in its power to stop the Bush Mob’s torture victims from seeking legal redress; an administration that since taking office has launched an unprecedented one-hundred twenty Predator drone attacks on peasant villages in Pakistan, with a civilian-to-combatant kill ratio of ten innocents to every Taliban or al-Qaeda fighter—attacks that the president seems to find humor in. As the Christian Science Monitor reported last June,

the assassination campaign has become such public knowledge that President Obama joked about drones during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, saying to a boy band in the audience: “Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming.”

No wonder the Pakistanis hate us. And while some commentators wondered about the president’s taste and tact here, it’s likely that this “joke” was meant quite seriously—not for the Jonas Brothers, the “boy band” in question, but for anyone who would dare challenge Imperial rule. “You will never see it coming.”

In fact, it’s clear that the Pentagon’s long-range plans include keeping a huge fleet of Predator drones, which can fly for up to 36 hours without refueling, aloft at all times above conflict zones—thousands of eyes-in-the-sky capable, at a moment’s notice, of loosing Hellfire missiles or 500-pound bombs down on restive populations below. The test site for this program of robotic state terrorism is now Pakistan, supposedly a U.S. ally, with reports of villagers living in a state of constant panic as the Predators buzz overhead. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time until Predator drones and other robotic aircraft  are ubiquitous; indeed, Department of Homeland Security has already begun patrolling the Mexican and Canadian borders with unarmed Predators—unarmed, that is, for now.

No, the Obamanoids are not here to save us from bullies. On the contrary, in the grown-up playground of the U.S. Empire, being the biggest, nastiest bully around is what counts. Let’s leave the final word on bullying to Major General Smedley Butler, the maverick U.S. Marine who ultimately turned against his imperialist masters:

I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high-class thug for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902–1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

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