Monday, April 17, 2006

On Being Angry and Tired
There's been another spike in the characterization of lefty bloggers as "angry," thanks to an article in the Washington Post on Friday. That right-wingers tut-tut about "the angry left" has always seemed crazy to me, because nobody's more angry, in the red-faced, saliva-spitting, vein-standing-out-on-the-forehead sense than the typical right-winger. Scratch one and you'll find he or she is motivated politically almost entirely by anger: at recalcitrant foreigners, at cultural rot, at paying taxes, at Hillary, you name it. If they ceased being angry, they'd lose their ability to engage politically.

So why they get away with criticizing us on the left for our anger is a mystery, but they're right about the fact that we're angry. In our position, it would be crazy not to be.

Because it's so much a part of who they are, right-wing anger seems inexhaustible. Even they win, they're not happy, because they don't always get 150 percent of what they want. In that, they're a lot like the kid on Christmas morning who, amidst a pile of gifts taller than he is, is upset because there was one thing he wanted that he didn't get. Exhibit A is the War on Christians conference held in Washington last month. Their kind controls two branches of government and is well on the way to controlling the third, but they still feel persecuted and on the defensive. (Elizabeth Castelli, a historian who specializes in Christian martrydom, attended the conference and wrote an interesting piece on it for the Revealer--which is a website that's going on my list for regular visits.)

But I am convinced that for lefty types such as myself, it's harder to maintain the same level of vinegar. Three years ago, I got an e-mail from a long-out-of-touch friend who had discovered this blog for the first time. My friend observed that it must take a lot of energy for me to be so angry every day. Three years ago, it did. So imagine how much more it takes now. I can still summon it up now and then, but not as consistently or as well as in days of yore. (Go back to the 2004 entries in this blog and you should be able to see the difference for yourself.) In fact, in the last year or so, out of sheer exhaustion at being angry, I've actually found myself wishing that one of the looming disasters in our future would just get here already: the next unprovoked attack on a foreign country, the economic crash sparked by high oil prices (perhaps caused by the next unprovoked attack on a foreign country), even the terrorist attack that leads to martial law and the suspension of the Constitution. As horrid as those would be, at least they would permit us to begin dealing with whatever the next phase of our country's history is going to be. Although that phase will certainly involve things to be angry at, perhaps they'll be different things. And perhaps, in whatever the next phase brings, lie the seeds of a society that will require less anger to navigate on a daily basis.

I'm not unsympathetic to the points Amanda Marcotte made at Pandagon yesterday, as she took on some of the myths about anger. One thing is certain--in the United States right now, all the cool kids are angry. But I suspect that means a lot of the cool kids are very, very tired, too.

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