Justifiable Outrage

Outrage is an emotion that must be used judiciously.  The wanton flight to outrage denigrates reasoned discourse and cheapens its own power.  Like many with strong convictions and passionate beliefs my trigger for outrage has become overly sensitive.  My defense is a self-imposed delay before reacting.  Oftentimes a reaction other than outrage emerges as a more effective alternative.  Sometimes, however, outrage is wholly justified.  Sometimes it is the only reasonable reaction.  This is one of those times.

The Chief of Staff of the New Black Panther Party is urging the group to form its own military, first to lay siege to the Republican National Convention putting their “feet on the motherfucking necks” of white Republicans.  The NBPP wants all black people to rise up “to drag whites out of their houses, skin them, hang them in trees, drag them behind trucks, and pour acid on them.”  During the recorded call another New Black Panther Party member suggests firebombing hospital nurseries to ensure white babies never have the chance to grow up.

The shocking hate-filled, racist, violent scheming and threatening go on.

The threat should be taken seriously.  This is after all the group that put – and maintains – a bounty for the killing of Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman, and the group claims to be stock-piling weapons and ammunition.

Anger and exhortations to violence have always been a mainstay of fringe hate groups, but a critical difference is the official reaction to such hate.  The news media does not deem this a story.  Our Vice President, Joe Biden, only just (in his best pandering diction) told an audience estimated to be about 50 percent black that Republicans “want to put y’all back in chains.”  President Obama, who infamously refused to condemn the bounty on Zimmerman because he “didn’t have all the information” (something that did not stop him maligning the white cop in the Henry Louis Gates case), has since defended the Biden statement.

Looking past the New Black Panther Party is nothing new.  Despite videotaped evidence of voter intimidation at Philadelphia polling places during the 2008 election, the Justice Department under Attorney General Holder dismissed any charges.

Meanwhile Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security is vigilant for domestic terrorists that fit a certain profile described by DHS as including “returning Vets, tea party participants, and” others who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority.”  Of course we know now that those massive tea parties held across the country resulted in no recorded instances of violence or arrest.  Conversely, the Occupy movement is responsible for nine deaths, millions of dollars in property damage, and dozens of rapes.  That would be the same Occupy movement Homeland Security has deemed to be “peaceful activists” in a February 2012 announcement.

Yesterday’s shooting at the conservative Family Research Council went largely ignored.  CNN waited nearly three hours before reporting it, a time mirrored by the wire services.  Given the media’s breathless leaps to accuse (erroneously) right wing gun nuts in the Aurora, Colorado shooting, the Gabby Giffords assassination attempt, and the attack on Milwaukee Sikh’s, the disinterest in the FRC assault seems deliberate.

Outrage is appropriate amidst the growing sense that justice is not equally applied.  One can blame this on a faceless “system” or the calculations of the Obama administration, it matters little.  America needs to strive to be a land of “equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or political,” said Thomas Jefferson during his first inauguration.  Unquestionably that standard has rarely been met, even by Jefferson himself, however, that does nothing to diminish the merit of the ideal.

Before political affiliation, before religious loyalty, or racial solidarity, or anything else, Americans must love justice and equality before the law.  Without that cornerstone the entire edifice of America will crumble.  Each and every act that seemingly or actually weakens that cornerstone must be met with outrage.  I will wear my outrage as a badge.

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8 thoughts on “Justifiable Outrage

  1. A point of clarification.
    I hope I am wrong. I want to be wrong. I would be happy to learn that all this is in my imagination. Go ahead, convince me that justice is being equally applied to all political persuasions.

  2. And here I thought you were going to outrage about the DOJ failure to prosecute Jon Corzine! In which I would have joined you in outrage. Quite a number of U.S. attorneys general have been weak non-entities, and sadly Holder is just another among them. As to the matters you raise, just a few points of interest. While NBBP is most hateful indeed (the best profile is of course at the Souther Poverty Law Center http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-files/groups/new-black-panther-party… and I assume your outrage causes you to support SPLC, no?), I hope you understand it is little more than a vile clown show and has no connection to any mass movement of the kind typified by the original BPP? Certainly vicious criminals should be prosecuted, but speaking as someone far more likely to be targeted by NBPP than you, let’s keep our shirts on… With regard to the FRC shooting, this time take it from a former wire-service reporter: unless you have access to a time-stamped original feed, you have no way of knowing how long it took them to move an item, or whether they were advising editors at CNN or elsewhere that fact-checking was under way, or whatever. And you omit to cheer the statement of condemnation issued by a number of gay-rights organizations and which has been quoted by a number of blogs both left and right: https://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/joint-statement-from-lgbt-organizations-on-frc-shooting (which I do agree should have been joined by every think tank or lobbying organization — whichever you think FRC is — in Washington). Finally, though you’ve said before you don’t do links on Yawper, I’d like a link to the Obama “not enough information” reaction that you allege. I don’t say you’re wrong, but I do want to read it and can’t find it myself. I’ve provided links; so should you. Your Obama derangement continues to amaze me. Have you read Jonathan Haidt’s book The Righteous Mind? While it’s not uncontroversial, even with me, it does tend to explain the “religious” tone of these discussions better than I can.

    1. Thank you. Good link, with the source correctly characterized, and I have no problem with fact-based comparison whatever their politics. The ABC coverage strikes me as rather odd, but at least its length is consonant with the depth of the outrage (agreed). I observe only that I no longer watch any TV news except PBS (and I have big problems with them, too). It’s sad for a former newsie to watch so much cant and so little critical thinking on the air.

  3. Obama derangement you say…

    Three points:

    In the first Obama opposes and insults every one of my core values. It would take a long time to catalog, but I think you can imagine the bulk of it, from his comments on American Exceptionalism to the bitter-clingers smear and more. The guy is my ideological opposite.

    What makes that worse is that while his principles oppose mine, he is neither honest enough to state them and then cowardly enough to jettison them in the interests of power. Obama seems most honest when off-teleprompter such as telling Joe the Plumber about spreading the wealth around to tell small businesses “you didn’t build that.” On issues I thought he had a principled take on – use of drones, closing Gitmo, etc. – he abandons them when convenient. This may seem like I am trying to make mutually exclusive arguments (an ideologue who abandons his beliefs) but what I mean is that he my philosophical counterpoint yet is more committed to gaining and maintaining power than anything else. He is, academically speaking, a dishonorable opponent. Put another way, prior to becoming President he had the most liberal voting record in the Senate and a history of voting “present” (in the State Senate I think… I didn’t look it up just now) with disturbing regularity.

    But there is a great problem with Obama. I actually have a written Yawp on this that I have been hesitant to post. But for me, the great tragedy of Obama is the discarded opportunity. When elected, America stood ready to love him. America wanted to love him. Commentators who knew better told us not to believe the voting record, or the more radical past, but to embrace this centrist, this unifier, this man of hope. By governing closer to the center, by communicating with less disdain for his opponents, by maintaining higher standards of integrity, Obama could have done so much to heal racial divisions if not effectively end them. Folks would have carved his face on to Mt Rushmore… maybe even Mt. McKinley. Obama had a chance to live up to the dream his campaign pledged. I never believed he would, but he need not have done so much damage to it.

    Instead I think Obama is leaving America worse off in pretty much every way. We are weaker abroad, weaker at home, and our people are divided along lines of race and income more than we have been in a long time.

  4. Thanks, Jason. Your explication is helpful but still puzzling. Yes, politicians say stupid things, and often act as if they had no core beliefs at all, and Obama has done both. After all, he has very little experience, and we all knew that, even supporters, and beyond that very few have risen to high office while holding fast to principle of any kind. It might surprise you how many of the specifics of your charges I agree with. But what surprises *me* is you seem like a guy who respects general intelligence and deliberative character, which which I believe he does exhibit, and which I find important in times of danger, in which we certainly dwell. It would seem to me a sound conservative principle to respect those qualities, but I guess you just don’t see them as I do. At any rate, I very much doubt you’ll find anyone running for office who does much better, though you may find some who mouth or pretend to believe what you identify as your core values. (Yes, losing battles and all.) Any way, none of what you cite seems to justify the hate that sometimes blasts through your posts, albeit hedged by your fine sense of decorum and style.

    Now, as to the newsbusters link. It’s actually a broken link, but let’s grant it. Here are some further observations: If it’s as you’ve quoted above, it pertains to something Jay Carney said, not (as in your original post) the President, and I would recommend not representing it as the latter. You know I’m already on record as believing that no press secretary should *ever* appear on video or be quoted on the record about anything of substance. We have a right to hear from our sworn officers, and it’s a cowardly evasion to let a flack speak for the President, the Secretary of State, or any other officer. I can’t understand why Obama allows it, but I don’t charge what Carney said in his name to him. Clearly it was an offensive and stupid thing to say, and I hope Obama took him to the woodshed, to use a historic term.

    I was glad to see that your source was what I would consider a “legit” journalist covering the White House. Too often, in my opinion, my “conservative” friends (what does that mean any way? clearly not the same to some as to others) seem to dwell in the fever swamp of highly emotional and partisan sources. For my part, I try never to quote or rely on HuffPo or Daily Kos (except when the quote is fall-down-funny for its polemic style) though I check both more than occasionally, because they are fundamentally unreliable on matters of fact. In sourcing, the straighter the better. Official texts the best. I love C-SPAN and hate CNN. Incidentally, some sites you’d probably never read because they’re too “liberal/progressive/whatever” do a decent job at quoting in full, at length, in context and with citation passages they strongly disagree with. BTW you didn’t say if you’ve either read or read of the Haidt book.

    Finally, and it’s the merest quibble that I mention only because my expectations for your writing are so high, you have misused the word “disinterest,” which — to the good, conservative wordsmith who respects traditional English — means unbiased, not lack of interest. But carry on. Yawper continues to fascinate if sometimes disturb me.

  5. Okay, last return volley.

    I absolutely respect intelligence and, as you call it, deliberative character. I see neither in Obama. The only thing impressive about the man is his credentials, and you know that while I think fancy degrees can be an indicator of intellect, they provide no guarantee and are in fact a poor substitute for actual intelligence. The relationship of those fine credentials to wisdom is entirely nonexistent.

    I have not read the Haidt book. I heard of his premise in passing, thought it crap (isn’t this the guy who basically said conservatives are fearful people while liberals are enlightened?). I never gave it more than 2 seconds of thought – too many other good books I have yet to read…

    I should not have put the quotes marks there. Otherwise I think it is absolutely fine and appropriate to accept that the President’s spokesman speaks for the President. I should have treated it as a paraphrase, not a quote.

    Of course you are right about disinterest. My dumb error. If I could hire a proofreader, or find enough time to proofread myself, a number of mistakes could be avoided. It can be tough to balance the desire for quality with the reality that this is but a hobby shoehorned in between everything else. That is a reason, not an excuse.

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