March 28, 2012
Letters to the Editor: ‘Bully,’ Wall Street, Tom Tugend’s award
Addressing the Bully Pulpit
Thank you for bringing so much attention to the important issue of bullying (“The Battle to Get ‘Bully’ Seen by Those Who Need It Most,” March 23).
When we talk about bullying, it’s not only about bystanders and targets. What is needed now is the cultivation of school communities where there are more allies than bystanders when acts of bias and bullying occur. This is why the thrust of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) anti-bullying education helps young people learn ally skills and to speak out on behalf of someone else.
In-person bullying and cyber bullying in elementary and secondary educational settings is a continuing problem for all schools, parents and students. Studies have shown that difficulty making friends, loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, poor academic achievement, truancy and suicide are all associated with being bullied.
Beyond the social impact of bullying and cyber bullying we have a moral obligation to become better allies in helping to end it. ADL resources are available, and we have already established a partnership with the Board of Rabbis and the Builders of Jewish Education to develop a Jewish response to cyber bullying.
Systemic problems of prejudice and bullying must be addressed through comprehensive anti-bias education — in school, at home, in religious and community settings, and all other places [where] we educate children to be socially and emotionally productive members of society.
I read with interest your article on bullying. It’s encouraging to know that so many well-intentioned people are giving this matter serious thought. However, we still need to deepen our thinking. In Danielle Berrin’s article, and in the sidebar interview with Ron Avi Astor (“Q&A With an Expert on Bullying,” March 23), the point is made that kids who get bullied are often socially isolated.
Very few children self-isolate. We are social creatures, and the vast majority of kids crave peer interaction and friendship. Isolated kids are alone because they are shunned, and shunning is a mild form of bullying. So when we say that isolated kids get bullied, we are only saying that “bulling lite” leads to more aggressive forms of bullying. Well of course it does! If we are going to understand bullying better, we must stop talking — and thinking — in circles.
Wall Street Shock Wave
Leonard Fein’s “bank shot” went right into the pocket — most likely of the Democratic Party (“Wall Street Shock Wave in Rear-view Mirror,” March 23). Since most Jews support Democrats, here is what Fein omitted, which might have given them a “moment” of discomfort.
• Neo-liberal President Bill Clinton was the one who ended the New Deal’s Glass-Steagall Act, which once served as a firewall between commercial banking and investment in securities. He later greased the wheels to allow creation of derivatives: “instruments of mass financial destruction.”
• President Barack Obama bailed out the banks (which was, indeed, necessary) but did so without insisting on even an iota of regulation.
• The “real regulation” Fein calls for is also a sham, including the Dodd-Frank Act. Informed critics of crony capitalism on the right (John Dean) and also a New York Times financial reporter on the left (Gretchen Morgenson) have documented why.
In short, neo-liberal Democratic Party government officials (Robert Rubin and Timothy Geithner, to name a few) have made sure that — despite massive banking fraud — those responsible for the crisis can remain secure in the knowledge that they are not only too big to fail but also too big to jail.
Every reporter has had the experience of writing an apparently complimentary article about a community figure, only to have the ungrateful subject complain about what seems like a minor omission.
What’s scary is when the tables are turned and the reporter reads an article about himself. This happened to me in Ryan Torok’s flattering report (“Award to Recognize Jewish Journalist’s 50-Year Career,” March 16) about an honor I am to receive from the Benefactors of the Jewish Club of 1933.
For the record, may I add two of the proudest moments of my life: enlisting in the U.S. Army before finishing high school and serving as a combat infantryman in France and Germany during World War II. And leaving UC Berkeley in 1948, to serve as a volunteer in an anti-tank unit during Israel’s War of Independence.
Young Life Provides Inspiration
To say that Avery Sax is special is not enough (“11-Year-Old Is Focusing on the (Re)Cycle of Life,” March 23). This is one beautiful young human being who should be an inspiration to all people. Her outlook on life is precious and very unusual for an 11-year-old young lady.
How proud her mother must be of Avery. And Avery should be proud of Avery.
Harvey M. Piccus
Wow, we have been “blessed” with two Prager anti-left screeds in a row (“Our Golden Calf,” March 9; “Response to Reader on the Left,” March 23). It never ceases to amaze me how he will extrapolate the examples of a select few extreme examples into the entire left side of the political spectrum. Let’s look at some facts. The current Southern Branch of the GOP is composed of the children and grandchildren of Southern Democrats who left the party in dribs following Truman’s historic decision to desegregate the military, and in droves following LBJ’s signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Nixon’s election victory in 1968 was made possible by his Southern Strategy. Basically, relying on white Southern antipathy to equal rights for black Americans. Further, Prager and his right-wing friends, when one strips the sugar coating away, believe in a survival-of-the-fittest society. Ayn Rand would be proud of them. I would argue that this is inconsistent with Judaism.
In contrast, let’s look at what the left has delivered. The left enacted Social Security. It fought to bring equal rights to all of the citizens of this great nation. The left enacted the GI Bill; this permitted returning vets of the “Greatest Generation” to go to college and purchase homes. Medicare was a program enacted by the left. Although there are flaws, which need to be corrected, the left enacted the Affordable Care Act. Each and every one of these programs was/are anathema to Prager and the right. I would argue that each and every one of these programs represents the highest ideals of Judaism.
Andrew C. Sigal
I’m not sure what is more disappointing: Rob Eshman’s call again for the Concert to Save Syria (“Syrians Need Us,” March 23) or Peace Now’s American mouthpiece Lara Friedman’s epiphany lasting less than 24 hours (“Letters,” March 23). It’s not David Suissa or Dennis Prager who refuse to deal with “true complexities.” It’s the ultra-liberal Friedman and Eshman who refuse to even listen to the words that come out of Israel’s sworn enemies’ mouths. When our enemies say we have no right to exist, the left rushes to say we shouldn’t believe it. We should just give up more land or give more freedom so it’s easier for the so-very-few radicals among them to kill us. Eshman is not as bad as Friedman since he at least gives lip service to putting some of the blame on our enemies while Friedman and her band of misfits find the solution to the world’s problems by Israel giving in on every destructive and self-defeating demand it faces.