I’m Enraged; You’re Enraged

Two movements find their roots in inchoate anger; which one is righteous and which one infantile?

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“I’m angry,” says Suanne Martin of Nashville, “at the way corporations have taken over our country.”

“I’m angry,” says Dee Close, down the road apiece in Memphis, “that those who are elected hijack the country.”

Two Tennessee belles, one good and one evil, a blonde and a brunette, I imagine.

Two furies, one righteous and one dangerous, depending of which Orrin Hatch happens to be talking that day.

“They are going to get people very angry,” the Grumpy Old Republican said last week, about those liberal kids playing hacky-sack on his lawn, “They’re alarming, and I’ll tell you we are going to get more of it. We are going to have riots in this country because of what these people are doing.”

“A lot of these Tea Party people are angry — and I’m angry too,” the six-term senator said back in May 2010. “I mean my gosh, they’re mad. They have a right to be mad and I think these Tea Party people are doing the country a service.”

(MORE: Can Orrin Hatch Tame the Tea Party?)

And so the Tea Party’s pique, which cost our country its good name this past summer, is patriotic, while the current disgruntlement camps are a threat to our national security. And not just almost treasonous, but unserious.

The Occupy Wall Street gang is like “a kid having a temper tantrum because their parents won’t buy them the whole ice-cream store,” said Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express, in one of the 1.3 million hits you get when you Google TEA PARTY TANTRUM. “Their demands are ridiculous, absurd,” she added knowingly.

I, for one, don’t understand this need to demean the anger of others, to in effect, pee on the opposing camp’s bonfire (which I cannot recommend). Surely there’s more than enough aggravation to go around, and embraceable hate on both sides. Most right-minded people can agree that politicians are plain awful, that Republicans are inveigling demons sent to befoul our souls, and that Democrats are nincompoops. And it is demonstrably true that corporations, freed of burdensome federal regulation, would spoon skinned kittens into cans and call it salmon.

I think that Suanne and Dee should meet somewhere in the middle, which on Interstate 40 would put them at Parker’s Crossroads, site of one of the most confusing battles of the Civil War. There’s a nice Olive Garden there. The women could hash out their wrath preferences over tea; Ms. Close would take hers steeped, Ms. Martin, a member of the local Teapot party, smoked. And perhaps over a few cups and bowls they would come to see that they both have an infinite capacity for rage, that they needn’t limit themselves to one institution or class or race, that they can, if they put their hearts to it, be mad at the whole world, excepting themselves, of course.

Or maybe they’ll just kill each other. That would be fun, too.

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