The Problem With Anger

To some degree, I see centrist columnist Clive Crook’s latest column engaging in some false equivalencies. But we’ll let that pass.

His closing statement is easy enough to endorse, even as I admit that my anger over last weekend’s assassinations/assassination attempts may have pulled me over the line with the rest of the full-mooners.

The problem with anger is that it makes it harder to think clearly. It’s just bad practice. You might not want to outlaw it, but it can’t hurt to understand the drawbacks. Also, in the end, we have to get on with people whose views we do not share. If we work ourselves up into mutual loathing, or antagonize the other guy to the point of incoherence, then we are unable to communicate. We cripple our ability to govern ourselves or live together happily. Even if the result is not physical violence, it is exaggerated political turbulence and discontent. [Jack] Shafer seems to want as much of these as we can get, without actually coming to blows. Those African countries riven by tribe? They’re so spirited! Basically, aim for civil war, then pull it back just a notch.

It doesn’t sound like “a more perfect union” to me.

No, it doesn’t.

In fairness to myself, it was hard not to get barking mad after enduring several years of right-wing hate/violence/bloody revolt language and anticipating all the while that something like the Giffords assassination attempt was inevitable. And, in fact, feeling like it’s inevitable still.

(Yes, the left did engage in some of the same business during the Bush II years, and there was that disgusting movie a few years ago that fantasized about a Bush assassination. Still, I never really feared for Gee-dub or John Boehner or anyone else in authority in the GOP during those years. It just seemed unlikely that you were going to find Dennis Kucinich or Markos Moulitsas at an underground militia meeting, or packing pistols at a peace rally.)

Still, maybe it’s time now to let the anger dissipate into sadness, and then just move on. At least until it happens again.


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