The Art of Selective Cruelty

In statecraft
Explained the eminent secretary
The holders of power must master
The art of selective cruelty
The art of applying intense pain
And suffering
For the purposes
Of punishing those whose
Policies and practices
Threaten to undermine the credibility
Of the hegemonic narrative.

In statecraft
Explained the eminent secretary
The ruler will carefully select his villains
Striking a pose
As Defender of Freedom
Champion of Justice for All
Ally of the Oppressed
While simultaneouly attacking,
Undermining, obliterating,
The movements, the governments,
The leaders
Practicing democracy and liberation,
To serve as a warning to others
Not to try the same thing.

In statecraft,
Explained the eminent secretary,
The suzerain must enlist
The most influential media
To reinforce and disseminate
A myth of righteousness,
Of being chosen by God,
To the gullible-ized public
In order to gain support
For the use of torture,
Assassination and assymetric warfare
Against those who would expose
That pretense of righteousness
As a lie.

In statecraft,
Explained the eminent secretary,
It is necessary to distinguish
Your friends who give eager lip-service
To your proclaimed ideals
And your true enemies
Who attempt to put those ideals
Into practice
And to reward the one
And eliminate the other.

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s newest book is And What Will We Sing? a collection of protest and social justice poems spanning the last 25 years. He podcasts at and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California. Read other articles by Buff.