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Legitimate Passions

Anger in politics is the hot topic these days.  The media has declared anger on the Right completely illegitimate, creating a Climate of Hate so intense that it provokes random nutjobs who aren’t even conservative to go on killing sprees.  Meanwhile, the media goes to surreal lengths to pretend anger on the Left doesn’t even exist.

The reason they do this is simple and cold-blooded: they want to stigmatize dissent from their preferred agenda, and bloody atrocities provide an excellent opportunity.  Some of the more fervent media janissaries sincerely believe every bad person belongs to the Right, by definition.  Most of them, however, knew perfectly well that the Climate of Hate narrative was nonsense.  It’s a framework of lies they deliberately constructed, fully aware of all the incendiary liberal rhetoric they would need to bury beneath its foundations.

Even taken at face value, the Climate of Hate concept makes no sense.  Why should anger, or any other passion, render someone’s arguments completely invalid?

I’m not talking about direct incitements to violence, like the “Kill Sarah Palin” Facebook pages liberals have been cooking up this week… but then, neither was the mainstream media.  All of their nasty insinuations came with disclaimers that they were talking about policy ideas, which they felt were based in anger at the government.  Here’s how the editors of the New York Times put it:

“… It is legitimate to hold Republicans and particularly their most virulent supporters in the media responsible for the gale of anger that has produced the vast majority of these threats, setting the nation on edge. Many on the right have exploited the arguments of division, reaping political power by demonizing immigrants, or welfare recipients, or bureaucrats. They seem to have persuaded many Americans that the government is not just misguided, but the enemy of the people.”

The Times is explicitly holding Republicans, and their “most virulent supporters,” responsible for a “gale of anger” that produces threats.  They have absolutely no proof whatsoever of this connection.  They just think excessive anger at the government, and the glorious Democrat Party that represents its interests, naturally leads to threats of violence.  When they say “demonizing immigrants,” they mean “insisting on border security and opposing the DREAM Act.”  When they speak of demonizing bureaucrats, they’re referring to budget cuts, and holding the Obama Administration responsible for outrages like economy-killing EPA mandates or the Net Neutrality power grab.

Why shouldn’t people be angry about those things?  A lot of people are unemployed because of this Administrations’ policies.  Their health care has been ruined, by a bill that was shoved down their throats, over the loud objections of a strong majority.  Their children will be expected to pay off a titanic national debt, which swelled by a trillion dollars in half a year.  They’re grappling with the fallout from an economic crisis caused by leftist ideology.  A carnivorous government is aggressively reaching into every area of our lives, and it does not entertain polite requests to stop.

Consider things from the liberal perspective as well.  Someone who believed half the things liberal leaders say about their enemies would be angry as hell.  Liberals are instructed to hate those who resist tax increases, for such resistance can be nothing but heartless greed.  They are told the only reason anyone could possibly oppose Barack Obama is racism.  They are commanded to view Republicans as the paid servants of shadowy corporate predators.  They have been taught the expansion of government is “progressive,” so all talk of limited government and liberty is therefore “regressive.”

The power to decide whose anger is “legitimate” would grant ultimate power over all political discourse.  Passion is a great motivator.  If conservatives accepted the notion they’re not allowed to be passionate, while liberal rage is cheerfully excused, they would be unilaterally disarming themselves.  Accepting the speech codes hammered out by the munchkins at liberal news networks would make it difficult to communicate effectively at all.  How else do you talk about diverting extraordinary resources to a particular congressional race, without saying you have “targeted” it?

The shameful media behavior of the past few days was a carefully orchestrated attempt to make conservatives believe their passions are nothing but blind rage, and therefore toxic.  This is why liberals were so desperate to extract “repudiation” from Republican leaders.  The objective was to shame their voters.

It is proper to expect passion to inform reason, rather than transcending it, and those who actually do encourage violence have left the arena of ideas altogether… but there is no way to “dispassionately” oppose a government built upon emotional appeals, and sold with moral imperatives.  Liberals certainly appreciate the importance of passion to politics.  After all, how was anyone who accepted the “Climate of Hate” narrative supposed to feel about conservatives?

Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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