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We Are a Nation of Bullies

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Rush Limbaugh's years of bullying may have finally caught up with him. His vicious attack on Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student, was over the top even by Limbaugh's standards. Calling the young woman a "slut" and a "prostitute" for supporting health insurance coverage for contraception has cost the on-air personality and full-time blowhard a number of advertisers, and many hope his radio program as well.

Another conservative personality -- blogger, editor and publisher Andrew Breitbart -- met an untimely passing just days ago. Praised by the right as a hero who stood up for what he believed in, there is no question he was a warrior for his cause, and was very good at what he did. Meanwhile, African Americans, progressives and others will not fail to mention that Breitbart employed methods of deception and dishonesty to bring about the downfall of ACORN. And he ruined the reputation and career of USDA official and civil rights activist Shirley Sherrod by doctoring a video of a speech she made, falsely portraying her as a hater of white people.

This nation has a love-hate relationship with bullies. In one breath, society condemns bullying. And yet our society thrives on it, encourages it and glorifies it.

America names buildings after its bullies. Take J. Edgar Hoover, one of America's most notorious villains. The FBI chief destroyed social justice movements, and led a campaign to "prevent the rise of a black Messiah" through his COINTELPRO program. According to one of his purported black relatives, he was also a black man passing for white. Now, that adds a new layer of complexity to his bullying, if it doesn't actually provide a context to his motivation in declaring a war on black America.

A problem among young people, bullying is a cause of teen suicides and schoolhouse shootouts. First, there is outrage and sadness, then silence, as people resume their daily lives until the next tragedy occurs.

Politicians make a lucrative career out of bullying low income and working people for not being rich, women for wanting control over their own bodies, and Latino immigrants for having brown skin and speaking Spanish.

Bullies make sure that other bullies have as many guns as they want, at home or abroad, making it far easier to shoot someone than to vote for someone. By the way, voter ID laws are a form of bullying against people of color, the poor, students and the disabled.

In today's rancorous political discourse, bullies are afraid of change and want to impose their will. So they rewrite the textbooks to wipe out Latino studies and all traces of the civil rights movement, and would refight the Civil War to get another shot at victory -- a century-and-a-half after the fact. The nation of their dreams is 100 percent white and fully Christian -- but in a Talibanic sense, where women are subservient and powerless -- so they enact legislation to ban Sharia law and monitor women's reproductive organs.

Bullies called police officers brutalize and pepper spray protestors practicing nonviolent civil disobedience, and spy on Muslim students outside of their jurisdiction. These bullies frame people for crimes they didn't commit, and beat scripted confessions out of them. Bullies also known as district attorneys coerce innocent people into taking a plea. Sometimes, they even send innocent people to death row --just to score more points on the tally sheet -- and never have to pay for their crimes.

Now is the time that we all must stand up to these bullies, for our own sake and for America's future.

David A. Love is the Executive Director of Witness to Innocence, a national nonprofit organization that empowers exonerated death row prisoners and their family members to become effective leaders in the movement to abolish the death penalty.