CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Why Are They So Angry?

May 16, 2007

Anyone involved in public debates, the blogosphere, or discussion about controversial issues in the public arena will know that it can get pretty hot out there at times. Public controversies are certainly not for the squeamish or the faint of heart.

One quickly discovers that developing a thick-skin is necessary to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of public debate. There is often far more heat being generated than light. Much of what passes for argument and debate is really just a lot of name-calling, ad hominem attacks, character assassination, and thinly disguised hatred. Indeed, over the years I have certainly received my fair share of abuse, hatred and bile, especially from the secular left.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins is of course a classic example of this rage. Indeed, go to his website – if you dare – and see how his groupies savagely attack anyone who dares to challenge the reigning atheist dogma. While some proper argument is found there, more often than not, it is just a lot of abuse and personal attacks.

Countless other websites of the secular left could be mentioned. There seems to be a lot of anger and bitterness out there. Of course this is not to deny that conservative websites and commentators are free from such emotion and/or tactics. But for the most part, it seems the ugliness and hatred is found much more on the left side of the debate.

One American commentator, who happens to be both black and conservative, takes up this theme in a recent column. Thomas Sowell asks in his May 15, 2007 townhall.com, why is the left so angry? He begins:

“That people on the political left have a certain set of opinions, just as people do in other parts of the ideological spectrum, is not surprising. What is surprising, however, is how often the opinions of those on the left are accompanied by hostility and even hatred. Particular issues can arouse passions here and there for anyone with any political views. But, for many on the left, indignation is not a sometime thing. It is a way of life.”

He continues, “How often have you seen conservatives or libertarians take to the streets, shouting angry slogans? How often have conservative students on campus shouted down a visiting speaker or rioted to prevent the visitor from speaking at all? The source of the anger of liberals, ‘progressives’ or radicals is by no means readily apparent. The targets of their anger have included people who are non-confrontational or even genial, such as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. It is hard to think of a time when Karl Rove or Dick Cheney has even raised his voice but they are hated like the devil incarnate.”

There are many examples of this, not only from overseas, but here in Australia as well. Consider the case of one conservative and religious blogger that I know. His site has attracted so much negative attention from those on the left, that he has been forced to make big changes.

The lefties became so threatening, nasty and ugly, that my friend was left with no alternative but to pull down the entire web site and start over elsewhere. In this case the intimidation, stand-over tactics and bullying of the left paid off. And that is just what they want: to shut down proper debate, and just shout down any opposing viewpoints.

In truth, many of them really are not interested in debate at all. They can talk all they want about tolerance and acceptance, but often they can be the most intolerant and bigoted people I know.

I am reminded of an example of this some years ago, when Pauline Hanson was involved in politics. Whatever one thinks about her political viewpoints, one would have thought that in a democracy she had a right to share her opinions in public. But recall time after time when she sought to give a public lecture, she was physically threatened, abused and attempts were made to prevent her from speaking.

I recall at one Melbourne university there were large posters around campus urging students to prevent her from speaking. The posters urged students to do all they could to prevent her from even getting a hearing on campus. “Do not let Hanson speak” shouted the poster, or words to that effect.

Given that universities are in theory to be all about openness to ideas, freedom of expression, and the discussion of important issues of the day, it is quite strange to find such a totalitarian mindset among the campus lefties.

More recently I noticed posters on another campus saying John Howard was due to visit, and students were encouraged to “come along and give this warmonger the welcome he deserves”. The poster said in large letters that Howard was “Not Welcome Here!”. So much for openness, tolerance and diversity – something the left so much rants and raves about.

And given that this poster was supported by Students Against War and Racism, one would expect that if peace is their aim, then peaceful activities would be something they would want to promote. But if past experience is anything to go on, their presence at the Howard meetings will be anything but peaceful. Indeed, with words like “give him the welcome he deserves,” one can imagine what kind of reception he will get. These words amount to little more than incitement to riot. So much again for the “peaceful” left.

So why the left is so bitter, angry and hate-filled remains to be answered. I suppose they are entitled to their twisted and negative emotions. It is just so ironic that this nastiness comes from those who so often talk about the need to be loving, peaceful and tolerant. Nice theory, but pity about the reality.

So it is up to us to respond in the opposite spirit, to show that we can respect others even as we disagree with them. The other side may resort to bullying and low-down tactics, but we must aim for something better. Indeed, as Jesus prayed about those who wanted to put him to death: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.

www.townhall.com/columnists/ThomasSowell/2007/05/15/the_anger_of_the_left

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11 Responses to Why Are They So Angry?

  • Bill, yes, I also know of someone who has had to use ‘strategies’ to protect himself when opposing blog commentators got threatening.
    It would be an interesting study to perhaps go into what makes up the Leftist mindset that seems to be conducive to this kind of hostility. It’s almost a tradition of the Left, this entitlement to anger. I have a theory that it’s not a natural world view and has often been brought about through a sense of injustice because of wrongs they’ve seen or experienced and that anger about their own experience comes out in their politics as an outlet.
    I was reading something on Gates of Vienna the other day, a comment made under one of the posts which talks about how the West has been elevated by its great wealth out of the ‘natural selection’ process. In other words, it’s been spared the normal sink or swim processes that go on in most societies, where people hold traditional values, i.e. strong masculinity or femininity, a willingness to protect one’s moral values or country. Because of this, those who would have perhaps had to conform to some extent (there’s that terrible word ‘conform’) to societal norms have had the freedom to run wild with all kinds of individualistic diversions and indulgences. This has led to a kind of pampered deviation from what sane thinking would have otherwise ensured to be the continuation of our culture.
    Although this doesn’t exactly explain the anger, it does lend itself to a certain ‘un-whole’ view of the world, and it could have produced such things as experimental parenting, neglect as both parents work such long hours and more divorce, which could, in turn lead to anger against the establishment and hostility.
    That’s my opinion anyway.
    Dee Graf

  • Dear Bill, Why should we be surprised about hatred from secularist and atheists? When we experience the sudden volcanic hatred from a normally self-controlled, highly intelligent, articulate and urbane person, screaming at us :-

    “I have never met such a narrow-minded bigot in all my life”

    such blind rage is incomprehenisble apart from a spiritual force. Perhaps we forget that intellectual argument does not exist in a neutral territory; we inhabit a spiritual world. Beneath the cool, reasoned argument of the atheist lies an intense rebellion and shaking the fist against God. What else should we expect if we are proclaiming the truth and exposing lies?

    David Skinner

  • Anger is only from the left. I think not! Besides anyone who is interested in oppressing women, persecuting refugees and promoting hatred against those of other sexualities and religions (like Muslims) deserves the strongest opposition. One of the slogans of the Greens in the last state election sums the religious right up perfectly, “hate is not a family value!”

    If you cannot stand the heat, you should get out of the kitchen.

    Michael Boswell

  • Thanks Michael

    But so typical of the left, you misrepresent my position, then attack it, and then think you have won the debate. I made it perfectly clear that the left is not alone in such hatred – just that it tends to be found there more often.

    I am afraid your comment is a good example of the Orwellian doublespeak so characteristic of the far left. In their view, anyone concerned about the institutions of marriage and family somehow oppresses women and hates minorities. I fail to see the connection.

    And those concerned about people flying airplanes into buildings, seeking to kill as many women and children as possible, or using Mickey Mouse to teach kids how to hate Jews and others, are somehow hating all Muslims. And those concerned about national sovereignty and border protection are somehow persecuting refugees.

    Methinks Alice in Wonderland would be proud of such convoluted thinking.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Anger is only from the left
    No, that’s not what Bill is saying. I’m not Left, never have been and never will be. I’d rather die. And I’m very angry. The difference between those angry people on the Left and those on the Right is the way that anger is expressed. I seem to remember a couple of years ago, several protest marches through the streets of Sydney of anarchic Leftists which got so bad they were even damaging the cars of their own party leaders. I think even Bob Brown was a bit worried about his car. The police had to be called in and their incoherent head organizer could barely string a few words together to explain her position. When do you see violent crowds of Conservatives having to be controlled by police on horseback? And this is just one example. We all know that there are many others.
    Dee Graf

  • The sad thing is that Christians are not filled with the righteous anger that Christ often demonstrated, especially at those who would lead children astray. Equally we should not be indifferent to the terrible fate that awaits those who shake the fist at God, for as C.S. Lewis said: “In the end that face which is the delight or the terror of the universe must be turned upon each of us either with one expression or with the other, either conferring glory inexpressible or inflicting shame that can never be cured or disguised.”
    Savid Skinner, UK

  • Bill, I think David Skinner has hit the nail on the head.
    If you stand for God, you are right-eous, and upright.
    If you oppose God and Christians, then you are un-right-eous : you are of the left, and spiritually opposed to God. Young’s concordance gives some of the meanings of unrighteous as:iniquity, vanity, violence, perverse, injustice and lawlessness. Obvious fruits of the Left.

    This appears to be a rule-of-thumb standard in political classification, and apparently accepted from both sides of politics.
    Some good, well-meaning Christians are in the camp of the Left, however, they are captives of the spiritual malaise that comes from being slaves to misotheistic policies of Leftist parties.
    Some misotheists are also in right-wing parties, but really they want to have the benefits of Christian society and its heritage without acknowledging the debt they owe to Godly righteousness. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Thank God for Christians who make a righteous political or public stand for God and the family, such as Fred Nile, Australian Family Association and the Family First Party.

    Michael Evans

  • Michael B, the Greens party may have been on a crusade to stitch up the evil “religious right” in the recent NSW state elections. But for them to take the moral highground when it comes to family values in preposterous, even laughable (“hate is not a family value!”)

    Apart from wishy-washy justification, I’m interested how the Green Party’s policy to abolish drug prohibition would contribute to ‘family values’. If we were to remove the reality of consequences, perhaps this ideology would make sense ie ‘religious right’ = hatemongers; ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law’ = utopia.

    Luke Beattie

  • Though I’m not meaning to be yet another person to take sides against Mr. Boswell, I must say I am disappointed to see reason going. With postmodernism becoming more popular and as it seems that any one can throw away any value or truth they want – what is left to hold our society together?

    What if the law of governments becomes subjective? If we deconstruct Christian leaders, which we are doing, then where do we stop? Who is really concerned about the “fabric” of society? Oh, my apologies, should I not say the “individual strands” of society.

    I am also curious as to why Mr. Boswell, you seem to think you have the right to vilify Christianity in a public arena? So for one last question, if you are bold enough to answer, who is it exactly who presented you with this “educated” predisposition?

    Jesse Smyth

  • “Why do the heathen rage…”
    I have just finished reading Psalm 2, the Bible Society Reading for today, 19 May. David saw the same thing in his day and prophetically wrote down what we see today.
    Psalm 2 goes on to remind us that God has it all in control, and one day the Righteous One will reign.
    Stephen White

  • I agree with you Michael Boswell in that the people who do the things you say should be condemned, in fact the Christian scriptures teach us these things.
    I consider myself to be right wing but I do not oppress women (ask my wife and sisters), I do not persecute refugees (my closest friends are from Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Korea, Lybia and Singapore, my wife is also a refugee (having arrived here from Germany).
    I do not hate people of different sexuality and religion but I do maintain my right to disagree with them without being persecuted.
    What have I done to deserve the discrimination that his people promote against me?
    Jim Sturla

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