Saturday, April 15, 2006

Whatever Works

The Washington Post profiles Maryscott O’Connor, keeper of My Left Wing:

In the angry life of Maryscott O’Connor, the rage begins as soon as she opens her eyes and realizes that her president is still George W. Bush. The sun has yet to rise and her family is asleep, but no matter; as soon as the realization kicks in, O’Connor, 37, is out of bed and heading toward her computer.

Out there, awaiting her building fury: the Angry Left, where O’Connor’s reputation is as one of the angriest of all. “One long, sustained scream” is how she describes the writing she does for various Web logs, as she wonders what she should scream about this day.

She smokes a cigarette. Should it be about Bush, whom she considers “malevolent,” a “sociopath” and “the Antichrist”? She smokes another cigarette. Should it be about Vice President Cheney, whom she thinks of as “Satan,” or about Karl Rove, “the devil”? Should it be about the “evil” Republican Party, or the “weaselly, capitulating, self-aggrandizing, self-serving” Democrats, or the Catholic Church, for which she says “I have a special place in my heart…a burning, sizzling, putrescent place where the guilty suffer the tortures of the damned”?

Darfur, she finally decides. She will write about Darfur. The shame of it. The culpability of all Americans, including herself, for doing nothing. She will write something so filled with outrage that it will accomplish the one thing above all she wants from her anger: to have an effect.

Go read the whole profile and check out her site if you haven’t already been reading it. I susupect that there are a lot of people who feel the same way she does. You’re looking at one now.

The righties tut-tut and dismiss us on the Left for letting our anger take over and cloud our judgement. Apparently they don’t read such sites like Free Republic or Town Hall or ignore such commentators as Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and the droning chatterers that call in to C-SPAN. They chide us for our anger, conveniently forgetting that they were the ones who gathered pitchforks and torches, went after Bill Clinton for getting a blow job, and shut down the government while they put him on trial. And given the performance of the current administration in handling everything from our worst nightmare to a predicted and planned-for natural disaster, even the most ohjective observer would have to be angry about the ham-handed and arrogant manner in which they’ve responded. If not, they just haven’t been paying attention.

Freud noted that anger turned inward is depression, so it must do some good to let it out in some fashion. Better to take out your anger on a $20 keyboard and the broadband of a blog than abuse your spouse, your child, your pet, or your liver, and better to share it with the world and let others know that they are not alone in their frustration. Everyone has their own style; for Ms. O’Connor it’s the acerbic style that gets things rocking. Some — like me — go for the smart-ass comment, the quip, the raised eyebrow, the rimshot. Whatever works as long as the point gets across and we actually do something.

And I think we’re actually making a difference.

Update: After reading Maha’s excellent post on this topic, I added this comment:

There’s also a difference between anger and hatred, which the righties conflate for their own purposes — and because they don’t see the difference. [A]nger can be productive and constructive (emphasis on can, not is) whereas hatred is just a blind emotional explosion with no productive end result. Anger is what started the American Revolution. Anger is what changed the civil rights laws in the 1950’s and ’60’s. Anger is what moves us to not accept what is and work for what can be.