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Acceptable Anger

Commentary by Greg Lewis /
January 19, 2003

It used to be that, if you were an angry young man, you could make a career of it, especially if you were a playwright or novelist in England during the 1950s and early '60s. Then, sometime during the very heyday of anger in the arts, people started talking about getting in touch with their feelings. It was as if they were saying that being one of England's angry young men and shouting it to the world didn't, somehow, qualify as being "in touch with" your feelings. Or more accurately in this case, your feeling.

So what if angry young men didn't send roses. What was it about "Damn it, I'm livid and you're not leaving this theater until you've heard all about it" that was so hard to understand? And how is it that among the things the people who wanted us to get in touch with our feelings accomplished was to close off one of the very avenues of expression of those feelings? John Osborne, would you sum up for the rest of the Anger Management group just what you've learned about yourself in tonight's session?

Of course, it's not quite that simple. Anger from certain racial, ethnic, and religious groups is today not only tolerated but encouraged. If you're an African-American hip-hop artist, you can espouse, with impunity, misogyny and murder as outlets for your anger. You'll have plenty of defenders who understand your plight and sympathize with your position.

And if you're a Muslim, especially an Arab Muslim, you can not only advocate but actually commit genocide on pretty much any scale against "infidels" and others you hate, and, again, you'll find lots of supporters for your position around the world, even among those who are the targets of your hatred.

While educators and physicians collaborate to give young American children the most powerful and addictive psychotropic drugs (including Ritalin, Paxil, Adderall, and Prozac) to get those children to mask negative feelings and exhibit desirable behavior in the classroom, the same educators wouldn't even think of recommending that, say, Palestinian "suicide" bombers, or Noel Ignatiev of Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African-American Research (the stated purpose of whose journal, Race Traitor, is "to abolish the white race"), find more constructive ways to deal with their anger. Why hasn't anyone suggested Paxil or Prozac and Anger Management classes for Mr. Ignatiev and other such demonstrably angry and misbehaving folks as the members of Hamas and Al Qaeda (or, more to the point, what's left of Al Qaeda)?

Hell, I'm sorry if the "white" race's ascension to its current position of cultural and political power is problematical for radical Islamic fundamentalists or for Mr. Ignatiev and his ilk. I'm tempted to say, "Deal with it, dudes! You want to destroy the white race? What are you waiting for? Here we are! Bring it, bro'!"

Of course, Mr. Ignatiev's inflammatory rhetoric is designed to provoke just such responses, and such responses serve to reinforce the apparent presumption that all white people (I'm not aware that Mr. Ignatiev advocates the destruction of only selected white people) are, by extension, racist, that all white people, simply because they are white, must de facto hate and desire to oppress all people of color and therefore don't deserve to live.

But, in case Mr. Ignatiev hasn't noticed, "white people" don't seem to be going anywhere. And it doesn't really matter what the terms of engagement are, those attacking us will probably get a response. Al Qaeda did. Osama bin Laden is not exactly strutting his stuff on the world stage, again, in case Mr. Ignatiev hasn't noticed.

The point is that when you attack America (and America is, of course, the symbol of "white" culture) you're not attacking just white people. And even should you find some way to wage war selectively against "white" people, you'd have a very difficult time understanding that many, if not most, "people of color" would have a serious problem with your actions. Because there are millions upon millions of people of all "colors" in the United States and around the world who understand that one's culture and one's religion and the color of one's skin are not the issues. Nor is the issue redressing the grievances that some people of color would bring against white people (or vice versa, for that matter).

The issue is not anger or skin color; it is living, or at least attempting to live, according to positive principles such as those put forth in the Constitution of the United States and the Christian Bible. (I'm not excluding other holy books, only referring to the one with which I'm most familiar.) As I read those principles, no one, not even Mr. Ignatiev (although he would probably, verbally at least, decline to accept the offer), is excluded from having the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, or from receiving the Grace of God. It seems that the way you live is much more important to people of true wisdom than is the color of your skin.

Have your say, Mr. Ignatiev. My sense is that you'll find, before too much longer, that you've bitten off way more than you can chew, even with the tacit support of your university's administration and most of its timorous faculty. For all the barren and negative and destructive ideas that you, given your privileged position among American academics, have been able to make heard, your program of hatred for so much that is good and positive is doomed to failure. You whose ideas are about to die . . . well, I'm not up to the task of saluting you, so I'll just say, "Late."

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