GOP Bullying Flashback: In 1967, George W. Bush’s Fraternity Admitted to Using Red-Hot Clothes Hangers to Brand Its Pledges

Republicans have reacted to the Washington Post’s story last week that revealed that when Mitt Romney was a senior in prep school he bullied boys he perceived to be gay by claiming that the incident was just a youthful indiscretion and, besides, stories of physical abuse by boys do not always predict the character of the men they will grow up to be.

On the other hand, sometimes the stories are determinative. Take for example, this scandal from 1967 — two years after the Romney bullying episode took place — that arose after students at Yale complained that a fraternity was torturing its pledges. The frat’s president was George W. Bush, who, 40 years later, single-handedly turned the United States into a torture state:

Branding Rite Laid to Yale Fraternity, New York Times, Nov. 8, 1967, p. 80.

New Haven, Nov. 7 — A Yale fraternity accused by the student newspaper of burning its initiates with a brand will have its fate decided Friday by student fraternity leaders.

The fraternity, Delta Kappa Episilon, could face the temporary closure of its house and a $1,000 fine resulting from the alleged violations of rules previously passed by the Inter-Fraternity Council, whic consists of Yale’s five fraternity presidents.

The charges against Delta Kappa Epsilon were made last Friday in a Yale Daily News article that accused campus fraternities of carrying on “sadistic and obscene” initiation procedures.

The charge that has caused the most controversy on the Yale campus is that Delta Kappa Epsilon applied a “hot branding iron” to the small of the back of its 40 new members in ceremonies two weeks ago. A photograph showing a scab in the shape of the Greek letter Delta, approximately half an inch waid, appeared in the article.

A former president of Delta [said] that branding is done with a hot coathanger. But the former president, George Bush, a Yale senior, said that the resulting wound is “only a cigarette burn.”

Yeah, “only a cigarette burn.” What is telling here is that in the 1967 case, Bush’s fraternity was held accountable for torturing its pledges. In 2012, Bush and the top White House aides who wrote a torture manual for use by interrogators for the CIA and others — including Vice Pres. Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice — have not been held accountable and probably never will be.

As to Romney, when a teenaged boy chases another boy down and cuts off his hair for the express purpose of de-feminizing him, and when the same boy taunts other boys he perceives to be effeminate, first, the abusive boy is obviously struggling with his own same-sex attractions, and second, whatever the motivation, this behavior demonstrates an absence of empathy, at best.

As a young parent, Romney displayed a similar lack of empathy when he forced his family’s dog to ride in a kennel strapped to the roof of a car on a 12-hour trip.

As a presidential candidate, he is demonstrating it now by advocating economic policies that would take resources from the poor, the elderly and the sick while preserving the immense wealth of his peers, who are the Republican Party’s funders and corporate sponsors.

One comment

  • Steve
    May 19, 2012 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    On the Deke’s website under ‘about us’ the first heading is “Our Brand”. Frat boy nation.

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