Slacktivist: When a lack of anger reveals a lack of love

Fred Clark recently posted one of the most powerful endorsements of anger at injustice I have ever seen. It’s especially relevant to ex-fundamentalist bloggers, since we are regularly accused of anger and bitterness, as though having emotions invalidates everything we say.

Imagine a big muscle-bound biker walks up, knocks you over and steps on your head with his giant steel-toed boot. You respond, “Hey, get off! What do you think you’re doing?!” He laughs down at you and says, “Why should I?” You answer, “Because you’re hurting me!” And he says, “You can’t possibly argue with me while you’re this emotional. I’m going to stand on your head until you calm down enough to present a rational argument.”

Because that makes just as much sense as telling women to be less emotional about patriarchy.

Slacktivist: When a lack of anger reveals a lack of love

Most anger is a response to and a response against something less abstract and more tangible, actual and factual: Injustice, oppression, harm, cruelty, pain, deprivation, suffering, want, intimidation, bullying, tyranny, evil.

In response to and response against such harms, anger is not irrational, it is obligatory. It is precisely “what the evidence warrants.”

When confronted with injustice, cruelty and harm, a lack of anger “is a sign that you are subconsciously” failing to love those who are suffering from that injustice, cruelty and harm. If you love them, then you ought to be angry — and that anger ought to compel you to act on their behalf.

See also:

Free Believers Network: The Bitterness Phenomenon

Amazingly, our teachings have so programed our minds that if the very thought that a person might be bitter enters our brains, we instantly shut down like a computer firewall protecting itself against a virus. I think for the most part, we can’t even help ourselves anymore. It’s become an involuntary knee-jerk reaction that just snaps the moment the “B” word is spoken. Our ears instantly become deaf, our attention span goes blank, and the walls of self protection shoot up.

  • smrnda

    This is a very important point – fundamentalists will typically shut down any debate or dismiss any critiques that the person making it is ‘angry’ and probably has ‘issues’ and isn’t making a ‘rational appeal.’ Aside from the double standard (where the fundamentalists get to go into frenzies of rage over even the most trivial slights) there’s a lot wrong with this.

    First, like was said above, anger is often legitimate. Second, the whole idea that the person has ‘issues’ – meaning that their anger is misplaced – is this unfalsifiable claim that is always pulled out to dismiss anyone who says something they don’t like. The assumption going on is that ‘there’s no possibility that this person can be right.’

    the other thing is the whole ‘issues’ – yeah, lots of women who write about patriarchy have issues, but those issues are a direct result of patriarchy so they should complain about them. Yet again, it’s the whole ‘we can’t possibly be to blame’ – patriarchy cannot be criticized and it can’t possibly be what caused the issues in the first place.

    There’s also another trick with fundamentalism – every person who is unhappy just hasn’t confessed their own sins enough (translation ‘i’m trying to hijack the discussion so it’s about what’s wrong with you, not what’s potentially wrong with me) or that the person has just seen the ‘wrong type’ of patriarchy (meaning that no amount of evidence shows its harmful, just that most people weren’t doing it right, but that there’s some magic right way out there.

  • http://www.bunnystuff.wordpress.com Jaimie

    Ah yes, the “you sound angry/bitter” shutdown maneuver. Very effective and very final. My parents still use this one but it doesn’t work like in the old days. They are extremely uncomfortable with negative emotions and think they are somehow ungodly if they feel anything but happy and at peace. I feel for them because they can never be real. Thank goodness I am away from that mess.

  • http://thebackporchak.wordpress.com Ryan J. Knight

    Most fundamentalists like to gloss over the Bible’s teachings about righteous anger, unless it involves their idea of righteous ‘anger’ as it pertains to women, LGBT, minorities, and anyone else they deem to be on Jesus’ short list.

  • ScottInOH

    This really is widespread, isn’t it? It’s frequently used against the not-sufficiently-religious and against women, but it first hit me in the face when it was used against people who argued that GW Bush was running the country off the rails. “Why is the Left so angry?” Definitely a tone-troll tactic to shut down debate.

    Interestingly, I saw a *ton* of this on the various Wilsons’ blogs over the last few days. Admonition after admonition that the angry, sarcastic, and bitter responses were “unchristian.” These were usually followed by a retort that there’s nothing wrong with righteous anger…


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