One of the big jokes in the blogosphere has been the fact that a Tea Party protest comprised in no small part of smiling grannies (a term I use with great love and respect) standing outside an Obama appearance, was met with riot police:
Yesterday, I asked jokingly just how stupid those riot police felt guarding granny, and I wasn’t the only one in the blogosphere who found the whole thing humorous in way that does not reflect well on the powers that be:
The photos and videos sparked a wave of blogger reactions, including the following comments:
* I hope the riot police have full auto assault weapons with armor-piercing rounds. I hear false teeth can deflect normal NATO rounds.
* Those poor police have to be embarrassed.
* These guys and gals look like my mom or the people in my church. Wake up America!
* Why can’t these racist, violent tea parties be civil like the peaceful pro-illegal immigration rallies we saw in Phoenix!?
* The cops really have to worry since protesters are shown on tape throwing bottles at them. Oh wait …
* SWAT was there because it looked like the ladies were going to break out in a bingo game. Those daubers have ink, ya know.
* Oh my G-d. How beyond ridiculous. This country’s “leaders” have gone stark raving insane.
* Yeah, they look like real hoodlums. Next they’ll be going after the elementary school kids singing those crazy patriotic songs!
* When will the AARP condemn this threatening behavior by team Obama?
Given how the media has been describing the “angry” Tea Parties, I guess the authorities would have been remiss not to take such a protest seriously. Still, I don’t recall any riot police blocking the protesters who were literally demanding Sarah Palin’s blood when she came to speak in the San Francisco Bay Area. Of course, by 2008, we’d gotten inured to the eight-year long orgy of blood lust swirling about those Progressive crowds, while I guess it’s still surprising to see smiling grannies with protest signs lauding America and its values. For the authorities, it’s apparent that “new” automatically translates into “dangerous.”
The very different protest styles of the Left and the Right, with the former engaging in violent rhetoric and violent acts, and the latter acting, mostly, like the Church social, have gotten me thinking about the difference between people being angry, on the one hand, and angry people, on the other hand.
We are all, of course, capable of anger when the situation merits it (and, as every parent knows, occasionally when the situation doesn’t). Most of us, though, don’t value anger. Our lives have meaning because of family, community, work, spiritual beliefs, etc. When we’re tired, when people for whom we’re responsible don’t cooperate, and when the things we value are threatened, we will get angry and we’ll act on it, but these occasions are the exception, not the rule, in our lives.
This doesn’t mean we’re pushovers. I’m certainly an assertive person, when I need to be, but I don’t operate from a wellspring of hostility. In confrontations, I like to find common ground that enables me and my opponent to work towards a mutually agreeable solution.
What I dislike so much about anger is that, for me, it’s a very damaging emotion. It destroys my ability to think rationally, or do any thinking at all, it makes me paranoid, and it makes me destructive. I don’t want to work with my opponent, I want to destroy him. If a situation that makes me angry occurs, I usually find myself shaken at the end, and less than pleased by the outcome. Anger so seldom produces smart outcomes.
Those angry people I know are different at a fundamental level from me. Anger isn’t just a passing emotion that interrupts their lives. It is, instead, a power that gives energy and meaning to their lives. They relish a fight, because the fight means that they’re proving themselves to themselves. There is something about anger that validates them in a way I can’t even begin to understand. It’s as if their philosophical model isn’t “I think, therefore I am,” it’s “I’m angry, therefore I am.”
The practical effect of being an angry person is that anger is your first response. You don’t try to downplay differences, you don’t offer excuses for the other person, and you don’t look for face-saving ways out of a situation. Instead, you just go storming in, guns blazing. For you, it’s a good day when you leave the battlefield littered with the dead and wounded. Never mind that you took significant hits yourself. Never mind even that you lost an entirely unnecessary battle. Your loss and your wounds are just fuel for your next round of anger.
I’ve commented before that the Obamas (both Barack and Michelle) strike me as angry people. For both of them, when they’re off teleprompter, their default setting is a worrisome amalgam of paranoia, disdain and hostility. The same goes for those with whom they surround themselves. Rahm, for example, is legendary for the anger he wields as both sword and shield. (Dead fish and knives in the table, anyone?)
Ordinary people have a range of reactions to the angry ones. On the positive side, sometimes we admire the pure flame that burns within them. We follow them when they seem to be leading us someplace we’d like to go, because their anger gives them a courage we may lack. On the negative side, though, we recognize that unbridled anger often leads a culture to the guillotine or the gas chamber. We also know that, at a personal level, nobody really wants to spend much time in the company of a truly angry person. It’s too much work. One is constantly placating, excusing, and apologizing, leaving no time for life’s simple pleasures.
Which wraps me back around to the Tea Party protests. The angry Left will always have its angry people, ready to transform their personal paranoia or their carefully inculcated identity victim status into a screaming street protest. It makes for good television, but the average happy person, even the average happy person who is angry about a political situation, does not feel a sense of identity with that foam-speckled ranter. Instead, those of us who are not driven by a deep and terminal anger that permeates every area of our lives are drawn to Happy Warriors. We like smiling grandmothers and other friendly people with whom we feel we can make common cause.
So Tea Partiers: keep smiling. It matters, and it is what will, in the long term, leave the MSM narrative in the dust, all the while attracting ordinary people to the cause of individual liberty and economic freedom.