January 31, 2005

Synthetic rage

I am mad! I am just furious!! So angry that I am tempted to use words like ‘tarnation!� and “consarn it!!!� Why, I feel so upset that I…

No, it’s no use. I just cannot sustain artificially created anger. And yet it amazes me that this ability seems to come easily to third-tier pundits who live in a permanent state of low-threshold fury, where the slightest provocation is enough to send them over the edge, ranting at their favorite targets.

The latest example of this comes from Michelle Malkin, to whom the Plain Dealer allocates precious space on its editorial page on January 27, 2005 to vent a thousand words of indignation at the Department of Homeland Security because it had recently sent a permanent resident (aka ‘green card’) approval form to Eugueni Kniazev, who had been killed in the World Trade Center attack.

So Ms. Malkin is outraged by what amounts to (drum roll, please) a governmental bureaucratic mistake. She hides the silliness of her concerns with the familiar pre-emptive tactic that is now used to silence any opponent: i.e., the recipient was killed during the September 11 attacks and anything said or done in their name is automatically exempt from criticism.

She takes this particular incident and that where two of the 9/11 hijackers were given flight school approval, to extrapolate into a reality-free zone and conclude that this means that the DHS is hopelessly incompetent and probably allowing vast numbers of people into the country to freely carry out more attacks.

She also invokes the grief of the family of Mr. Kniazev, raging on their behalf at the insensitive DHS for subjecting them to this reminder of their dead relative.

In the real world occupied by the rest of us, we know that correcting faulty information in the computers of big organizations is a frustrating and often futile exercise. Families of deceased people get mail for them for a long time afterwards, from the institutions they were affiliated with to marketers of credit cards, phone companies and the like, so one more mailing from some government agency is hardly likely to cause a fresh wave of overwhelming grief.

So what might actually lie behind Ms. Malkin’s fury? It becomes less mysterious if one is aware that Ms. Malkin is the author of a recent book approving the internment of all Japanese-Americans (including children) during World War II and has been on the minor-league punditry circuit arguing for racial, religious, and nationality profiling to be taken now against all people of Middle Eastern origins and of the Islamic faith.

Ms. Malkin manufactures synthetic rage over the action of some hapless (but hardly evil) clerk at the DHS in order to support and advocate actions that should cause genuine outrage. Indignation-fueled rhetoric is being used to either hide vacuity or to promote agendas that cannot stand close scrutiny. Judging by the talking heads on political talk (or more appropriately “yell�) shows, it seems like a strategy that can be translated into a lucrative career.

So excuse me while I go and practice getting angry some more. It can’t be that hard if the likes of Ms. Malkin can do it…


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Hi, Mano, good to see your blog in action.

As for Michelle "Internment Camps 'R' Us" Malkin, I've been considering a letter to the editor about wasting space on anything she has to say. This is really the historical time for right-wing writers who belong to one of the historical groups of those oppressed or marginalized by a society, i.e. women, blacks, hispanics, Asians (well, it's easier just to cite "those who aren't white European/American males").

And re her screed about bureaucratic foulups, a funny from the blog WFT is it now? Apparently a network planning a special on Johnny Carson called Rodney Dangerfield's agent to see if he (Dangerfield) would be available to comment on the passing of the legendary late-night host. Said agent replied that only if the network had a channel to the afterlife, as Dangerfield died last October. (Sorry, don't know how to link.) So I imagine we'll soon hear from Michelle "Manzanar Was a Blast" Malkin on that subject.

Keep up the good science posts. Catherine

Posted by catherine on January 31, 2005 02:15 PM

I was recently shown your blog and have been slowly reading through it.

Something to add to the discussion are two "laws" of internet communities:

Benford's Law of Controversy states that "Passion is inversely proportional to the amount of real information available." Godwin's Law states that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." If you change Nazis to 9/11, you get all conservative pundits. If you change Nazis to Bush is destroying the country, you get all liberal pundits.

Posted by Chris on April 21, 2005 02:23 AM

I myself haven't noticed any prejudice coming from white males in many years, except for prejudice against white males. It is in our laws and in the way everyday people interact.

Posted by Gene Erwin on May 3, 2011 03:47 PM