Political Rage

Though skimming through Fox News Headlines is never factually informative, reading them is often a good way to assess the hate building up in the insular and misinformed pot that is the modern-day Republican party: every now and then this pot whistles and steams, and we’ll get to witness disturbing things like conservative protestors carrying signs that read “we came unarmed (this time)” or, more recently, the human blockade of a bus carrying immigrant children soon to be deported, a display of racial tensions and general ignorance that should be telling about the Republican voter base in place like California and the American Southwest. But the pot hasn’t actually boiled yet.

That’s what is truly worrying about skimming through the headlines: it hints at worse to come. It wants to become something more than just rabble-rousing. This circle of disinformation can only go so far through story titles like “Time to Restrict Muslims Doctors from Entering America?” after a failed car-bombing attempt in the U.K. by several Muslim Physicians, and naturally has to resort to its pundits and “experts,” from Rush Limbaugh to Mark Levin and even including the occasional Ann Coulter, to say what needs to be said in this country. That Jon Stewart is a self-hating Jew for not wholeheartedly supported Israel’s bombing of a medical facility in Gaza. That Benghazi was a secret scandal, and that Obama is complicit in the murder of US Diplomats. That if Glenn Beck were President, he’d “recall all our troups and pound our enemies into glass.” That, if anything, “enhanced interrogations” aren’t being carried out enough, both in Guantanamo and at home.

This is beyond misinformation: these are carefully manipulated media talking heads trying to drum up popular sentiment for war crimes, racial profiling, and the full-scale use of American military power for very slim reasons. When things get more desperate for a voter base that has already proven itself able to condone these horrible actions, are we to believe they won’t begin acting on them? An armed populace has existed in this country since its inception, and we can continue the gun control debate elsewhere, but what might even be more deadly is the propaganda. We’re dehumanizing Muslims. We’re accusing dissenters of not only being wrong, but being traitorous. Sentiments like this are, at their base, violent. In the past this has been the sort of thing to start pogroms and race-riots, and create rallying cries for senseless wars.

I myself have trouble not being enraged in return: it’s hard not to meet these people every so often in your daily life. One of your family members undoubtedly, in his expert opinion, believes that “nuking the Arabs” is a wise and sound foreign policy that stands on its own. “The Mexicans,” (now the term not only for Mexicans, but also Nicaraguans, El Salvadorians, Brazilians, and even, oddly, Puerto Ricans) are taking someone’s jobs at any given time, and your grandmother probably feels tired of being a slave to “political correctness” when she can’t use the racial epithets she’s been getting nostalgic about lately. When I meet them, I have trouble being patient and civilized: it’s a personal flaw, probably exacerbated by a bit of mental illness, and I’ve been working on it, but I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how hard I try to employ restraint and reason when dealing with such people, people who make the most radical policies of the Republican party increasingly main-stream through their support, it will not pay off. They’ve become too deluded, and their prejudices have been played upon for too long for them to just “snap out of it.” They probably aren’t even bad people, but they wholeheartedly support bad things.

I wonder what the solution is. When the Republican party has shown that it no longer wants to rely on logic whatsoever whenever it doesn’t support their arguments, that it will cross any boundary that seems convenient to them to cross, and that it will fully endorse some of our worst acts as a nation as patriotic rallying cries, is rage the appropriate response to rage? Is it OK to be utterly intolerant of intolerance? At what point does violent and hateful political rhetoric translate into action in the United States’ current political climate? I don’t like to pander toward the cathartic, what with Bill Maher’s long rants about “bitch-slapping” “tea-baggers,” but anger is not wholly unwarranted, and if the Right wing has anything to teach the Left, it’s that anger is an excellent motivator, and a far more abundant resource than reason.