Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Anger: The Right’s Best Weapon

Anger is a wind which blows out the light of the mind. –Robert Green Ingersoll

For decades, now, certain entities in this country—pundits, conservative “think tanks,” major corporations, GOP politicians—have been spending a lot of money and energy trying to make you mad. Mad-making is a very lucrative business. How else would a know-nothing blowhard like Rush Limbaugh get rich enough to be thinking about buying a football team?

Why would people pour billions of dollars into enterprises—from cable TV and nationally syndicated radio shows to allegedly “grass roots” web sites and “tea parties”—that are designed to do nothing but stir up anger by whatever means?

Why make up idiotic lies about everything from the president’s birthplace to “death panels”? Why keep dragging emotionally charged non-issues, like abortion and gun control, into every so-called “debate”?

Simple: you can’t be really angry and think at the same time. And these people don’t want you to think. People who are thinking are hard to lead around by the nose.

Anger is often a secondary emotion. Frighten people badly, and as soon as the perceived danger passes, they’re likely to be pissed off. Take something away from them and they’ll feel grief, shortly followed by anger.

In America, the political right has elevated mad-making to an art and practiced it ruthlessly in pursuit of their goals. I’m not saying the left has never been guilty of manipulating people through anger—and it’s a despicable, dishonest practice, whoever does it—but in this country, “conservative” and “pissed off” have come to be practically synonymous. That’s no accident.

When people are angry, they look for a cause of their anger. In this country, there’s a huge, well-funded industry of mad-makers continually standing by to point out who we should be mad at: the president and Congress, of course. Look no further.

Habitual anger isn’t good for people. It raises blood pressure, causes ulcers, and makes us vulnerable to all sorts of stress-related illnesses. But in case anyone’s missed the point in recent months, the “right” doesn’t care about your health. And like a lot of other things that aren’t good for us—from cigarettes to sugar—anger, like any emotion, can be habit forming or even addictive. The people devoted to keeping the right people on the right rich—they know this. They dish out anger like cigarette companies used to give away free cigarettes, and for the same reason—to get you hooked.

Sadly, millions of people are still buying.

Stay tuned for more on this subject in the days to come.


Idna said...

My, my ... you really MUST do something about your anger at the Right.

Your definition of "political right" seems to be anyone who points out truths that you can't handle. So attack the messenger and ignore the message. There's a reason conservatives are labeled right ... beacause they ARE right.

Sue said...

Oh, come on. Idna and Jane, you both know better than to use such broad generalities as "truth." Yes, Jane, some people do get angry because of the comments of people who are trying to stir them up. But may people listen to the same comments without having that result. And yes, Idna, sometimes conservatives are "right" but you know perfectly well that they're not always, and that sometimes people on the left are also "right." The vast majority are in the middle somewhere and they may also be right. Believe it or not, most people do not succumb to ideology but are trying to make sense for themselves out of complicated issues. And some people join "tea parties" and other grass-roots activities/organizations because they see it as a way to express their concerns.

There is an old saying: "Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad." It's not clear whether "mad" is used to mean "angry" or "insane." I'm not sure there's all that much difference between the two. I do know that if we who are intelligent and civilized humans don't curb our anger and fail to give others the benefit of the doubt when they legitimately disagree with us, we (individually and as a society) risk succumbing to the sort of "madness" that will destroy us.

I love some of the exchanges that occur on this site, but the polemics (comes from the Greek for "warlike") are likely to ruin it. There's plenty of room for legitimate differences of opinion and civilized discussion of same.

Six said...

"How else would a know-nothing blowhard like Rush Limbaugh get rich enough to be thinking about buying a football team?"

Just curious about your thoughts on Michael Moore?

Citizen Jane said...

I've never seen a Michael Moore film. I heard him interviewed recently on NPR, though, and I was surprised by how articulate and reasonable he sounded. (I'd heard that he was a left-wing nut job, just as Limbaugh is a right-wing nut job.) But I can't express an opinion one way or the other.

I may watch the new Michael Moore movie--if for no other reason, to know what I'm being accused of when people accuse me of liking his stuff.

Six said...

Well if by 'people' you imply me, clearly I did not write that you liked his stuff as I was asking what your thought about him was... =/

My greater point is that you seem to be very quick to point out the lies and attacks by idiots on the right and blame them for inciting the oh-so-dangerous ANGER. You give all of a small token half-sentence acknowledgement out your multiple paragraph blog that some on the left do it too. Moore is just one example of someone on the left who twists and misrepresents facts to lead you to a conclusion Where is your rant about him?

Perhaps YOU are the one getting caught up in the hype here.......??

Anonymous said...

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