Walter Rhett

Whipping the Frenzy

In Living, Media, National Government, Perlo on October 21, 2010 at 5:24 pm

I’m seeing crimson! The country’s unmitigated anger is not undifferentiated. It is directed, targeted, and a force to be reckoned with. Like fire storms and hurricanes, it draws its force from multiple sources, some of which are only uncovered by a careful look at history.

Three instances of similar rage are telling; one local and recent, one national and historic, on in today’s White House. When Harold Washington was elected Mayor of Chicago, a self-destructive anger consumed the council which rebelled, threw tantrums, and locked down city government, refusing to address even minor issues, blocking goverace. When Lincoln was assassinated by the same seething irrational outrage (some see a lone gunman!), the national government split along the fault lines of those who supported the massive political and constitutional changes that accompanied the end of slavery and those elected and in the population that opposed progress – including Gen. William T. Sherman, who wrote Lincoln opposing the newly freed enslaved gaining the right to vote! Within a short time, the Midwest had “sundown towns” that required blacks and other minorities to be outside the city limits by nightfall. Ironically, the time of great progress was also a time when lynchings, riots, and racial violence dramatically increased.

The third instance is seen in the almost spontaneous attempts to direct “undifferentiated” anger against the policies of Obama – while the groups and leaders at the fountainhead of the anger label any attempts at dialogue or self-examination and reflection as “desparate attacks” (witness the pushback to the NACCP’s report on racist elements within the Tea Party, a report prepared after a year of research which including interviews, direct observation, and web investigation).

These same groups and leaders have highly selective hot button issues. They ignore defense spending, the furtility and immorality of war, the disasters from the failure to regulate, the contradictions of pushing for government intrusion into births, marriage partners, mosque building, and other social issues that would expand freedoms they disagree with.

This anger is at its essence a calculated attempt to delegitimize the Obama Presidency. Do we think that Newt wasn’t aware of his distortion and intent when he spoke of the non sequitur of “Kenyan anti-colonialism,” slyly attempting to invoke the Mau Mau resistance to British rule?

The anger isn’t ditzy; it’s deliberately, methodically, puposely deceptive. So is its denial. Both the anger and the denials conceal the danger that our institutions are being attacked by those who deny that as their purpose, and whose vague plans beyond pet phrases will leave greedy hands in the world’s largest cookie jar.

While unemployment entrenches, profits expand. Look at the Fortune list of companies with record profits, market caps below book value, and companies like Sears that have over 20,000 unfilled jobs. The anger and denials deflect attention from the growing divide of haves and have nots in this country, accelerated by tax cuts that increase profits but not demand, therefore growing no jobs. Corporations have $1.8 trillion in cash on hand!

Yes, the anger strikes back and feels good and is misdirected and denied by those who roundly suggest that the bat they plan to take to our government is really for the good of the rest of us.

Young California Woman, Cotton Picker. Dorothea Lange Photo.

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