Readers will note that I do not spend a lot of time writing about Trump; most of the time I neither praise or lament his activities.
That’s the first sentence of a post that I started last week in which I wanted to explain my general tendency to disengage from issues like the Comey hearings. I didn’t get very far, but kept that line as a “see, I was thinking about this before today’s shootings.” I see all the anger and shouting around me and I don’t want to be a part of it. I think that the whole notion of “righteous anger” is very risky and it’s too short a step from that, to the sort of blind anger which is very unhealthy and which worries me when I see it in other people.
I had a friend a number of years ago who was very much into being outraged at all the injustices of the world, and those which had been perpetrated against her. I haven’t talked to her in years, but she occasionally resurfaces on social media; she writes blogs, then shuts them down and makes them private, then writes another blog again some other time. When I last saw something from her, a couple months ago, she was divorcing her husband because she had decided that his lack of support for her in their battles with a willful child was not a matter of personal abilities or lack thereof, but outright abuse, and that, just as much as in the case of a woman with recurring black eyes, she was fleeing an abusive marriage. And she sees social justice as her vocation, and doesn’t have regular employment but just some freelance income, so she depended on his income.
She’s been off social media for the past couple months and I worry about her. So far as I know, she hasn’t gotten a gun and shot anyone; she’s probably busy with protest marches. Whether she reconciled with her husband, I don’t know.
But I see her story as a cautionary tale about the consequences of anger, and blending together anger about the World Around You and anger about all the Bad Things People Have Done To You. Anger that manifested itself in today’s DC shooting, just as much as the Chapel Hill killer, or the Kansas City killer. Again, she isn’t a killer. In general, I am not saying that people dealing in the politics of anger are killers. But conservatives on twitter are currently busy pulling out old tweets from leftist pundits and celebrities which make claims, more or less starkly, that some Republican or another is so heinous in his politics that he is deserving of death, or that they would celebrate his death from some other cause, or that he deserves for terrible things short of death to happen to him. (“You won’t fund universal health care? May you lose your job, be diagnosed with cancer, and be unable to find anyone to treat you for it!”) And conservatives may not play the same game, exactly, but you can’t deny that the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter was a right-wing, not left-wing extremist.
Sure, you might say that things were every bit as bad when Obama was president and I just didn’t notice. Maybe that’s true. I’m not even going to argue the point if readers say this very thing in the comments.
But it’s time to stop. It’s time to acknowledge that your political opponents are not Evil Incarnate. It’s time not to let your blood boil, or at least reduce it to a simmer, about what you read in the news.
Remember when everyone was worried that the Cold War was going to turn hot, and we would all be nuked like in The Day After? It didn’t happen after all, did it? So let’s all calm down. Please?