A reader, after seeing my post about Trump’s privileged hypocrisy over Mike Pence’s being booed at Hamilton, observed that she would have re-posted it on Facebook but my message was too angry.
As it happens, I wouldn’t have posted it on Facebook, either, because Facebook, unlike a blog or column, is a chat room intertwined with people’s personal lives. But her comment begs a larger question, which some of we progressives (especially we progressives of color) hear a lot, about our being “too angry” about our nation’s cruelties and injustices, including those of the ascension and incoming regime of Donald Trump.
So, for the record: Not being angry about Trump’s obscenity – and the 400 years of rich white straight male presumption to which it appeals – is a luxury that I do not have. Millions of we black and brown Americans, and disenfranchised white Americans, have been very angry for a long time, with good reason, and it is now long past time for those who have enjoyed a bubble of privileged “normalcy” (by race, gender, orientation, religion, or plain denial) to catch up with the larger reality. The new rich-take-all normal for an increasing swath of suffering white Americans is the old normal for many of the rest of us, and we will not wait to act while those who have been relatively sheltered from these centuries of abuse now fret over how angry they are willing to be.
If now, after all this, is not a time to be angry, what is? America flirts passionately with fascism, in a chilling parallel to the way in which the intelligentsia of 1930s Germany mocked the seemingly ludicrous appeal of the legally-elected Adolf Hitler, but anger would too greatly disturb the daily routines of those who wish it were not so? Imagine how it would sound today to have told fervent anti-fascists during the rise of the Third Reich, “You’re too angry in your opposition to Hitler! Your protests are too inflammatory for me to share them with my friends.”
At a certain point of extremist national change, previous “normal” standards for everyday conversation and political opinion no longer apply, whether those who have been relatively insulated care to acknowledge it or not. Being afraid to be angry about a modern norm of economic and human rights outrages, and clinging instead to mild-mannered Democratic Party business-as-usual prescriptions (Clinton’s “Stronger Together” platform never even came close to addressing the need and desire for deep economic and political change) at a time when many people's lives are falling apart, lost Hillary this election.
Anger – grounded in a righteous love of fairness and of building a better society for one another – is an appropriate and necessary response. Repressing or denying the anger is worse, both for the health of the country and for our personal well-being as people who hunger for better (and who often suffer and die for the privilege, whether through stress-induced illness or selective targeting by police and policy).
Some of us are forced to that recognition sooner than others.