The Politics of Cruel

Deliberate cruelty is unforgivable

-Blanche Dubois

Boy cruelty is coarse, lacks subtlety and is generally of a bull in the china closet variety. The double x chromosome partners of the species can fillet the soul with a thousand smiles. Notice here, dear reader, that I refer to the sexes in the juvenile sense, the reasoning for this should become evident in time.

Packs of wild carnivores will separate the most injured and defenseless from the herd and on the occasion of a lost softball game, the prey had misjudged a fly ball in right field late in a close game.  Upon migration from the  pleasant green pastures of Central Park  to the  grime of the  subway a compelling  hunger for blame arose and a pound of flesh had to be extracted from someone’s soul.

The outfield in Central Park is unforgiving. There are no fences. A ball hit over the head more than likely will result in a home run.  A very fast fielder, possessed of a Roberto Clemente type arm, combined with the good fortune of a slower than average runner might  lessen the damage , but those combinations are extremely rare. A ball hit that hard, would necessarily upon impact with the ground take off at a distinctly quickened pace. The batter was exceptionally fast, as were the two other runners on base before him. The game was lost by the margin of those three runs in the seventh inning.  Not one of those three runs were accounted for in the bottom of the final frame.

The right fielder was by no means a horrible athlete. He made the roster of  his high school basketball team which was at that time one of the most powerful franchises in NYC. He did not leave the bench much, but this program was so prominent that merely making the team took a certain amount of athletic ability. He was not particularly fast, but his arm, while not a howitzer, was decent. It was simply an impossible situation. Also, since there was only one out, if he had made such a difficult catch from such a distance, throwing out the runners tagging up from second and third base would have been impossible. The only difference an incredible catch would have made, based on the available facts would have been perhaps a one run loss as opposed to the three-run margin eventually entered into the books. Hand grenade and horseshoe references come to mind here.

But the glove clutching pack was hungry and not to be denied. Soon a chant rose from blood thirsty throats. “ ______    blew the game! ______  blew the game! “ Other missed opportunities that might have staved off the agony of defeat by some of these same chanters including, flubbed grounders, runners left in scoring position by batters at opportune times, missed tags, even a strike out which is exceptionally hard to do in slow pitch softball mattered as much as this lost fly ball.

The attack on the wounded beast was relentless.  Befuddled riders watched uncomfortably. I did not join in this malevolent feast. Instead, I sat there and watched and did nothing.

He used to live in my building, and we went through 8 years of Catholic elementary school together. He was the best student in our graduating class, but alas, he was afflicted with a decency foreign to most of his attackers.  And while I imagine he had faced some such assaults prior;  I am sure nothing could have prepared him for the scope of this maliciousness. As the pack hooted and howled over their kill, their victim quietly, and with more dignity than any of the rest of us would have ever recognized, bled tears  alone in his seat.

I could have challenged them. Sure, I would then have likely suffered the slings and arrows of whatever outrageous fortune they could rain on me. But since I was one of them, it likely would been less sustained and by the next day it would have been forgotten. My familiarity had bred not contempt but a certain amount of insulation. I could have misdirected their invective. But I didn’t. My memory of that moment still shames me.  

If we are truthful, few of us are completely innocent of such misbehavior. Youth is our afforded time for growing into ourselves. Discussion of the effects of bullying are welcomed more today in a digital world where the effects are more far reaching, and the perpetrators often use the luxury of anonymity to protect themselves from the fallout of their misdeeds. Experiencing a victim’s pain, face to face, might be for anybody with a semblance of a soul, enough to cause an offender to search that soul and perhaps discover a path to a more full-throat ed humanity. When such growth escapes those who inherit the instruments of leadership, the whole of our national character may regress into a juvenile delinquency of the body politic where cruelty becomes all too casual.  

The physical limitations of a reporter are ridiculed in the same manner as disgruntled boys on a train after a losing effort in a meaningless softball game. Violence is encouraged against the press and anybody in disagreement with the man child holding the keys to the ignition of our economy, our safety and generations of jurisprudence. A woman brings a rape accusation and the accused replies that it could not be true because she is “not my type” as if this type of sexual assault were about attraction and not about the twin peaks of power and rage. It is the type  of response offered by teens accused of the same behavior. Of a former republican rival for the highest office in the land he asked, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?”

Meanwhile, the powers that be, men and women all, are arguing in a federal court against the entitlement of migrant children to such essentials as soap, beds, toothpaste and toothbrushes. This in spite of a previous court’s finding holding these necessities to be self-evident. Children are being denied medical attention as they die in record numbers  in federal custody in the land of the free and the home of the brave.   The tears of children separated from their parents are ridiculed by men wearing uniforms bearing the insignias of our nation while too many men and women with more than enough decades on their bones to know better watch, as the train patters along, saying and doing nothing.

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