The Terrorism of Temper Tantrums: Where’s the Tough Love? By Robert S. Becker

by Robert S. Becker
Featured Writer
Dandelion Salad
September 15, 2010

edvard munch - the scream  1893

Image by oddsock via Flickr

Ever been shopping, or getting a bite to eat, and suddenly shrieking kids invade your space?  Perhaps good parents interceded, dragging ear-splitters from center stage; perhaps they’re really Tea Partiers in training.  While most families moderate small-time irrationality, in North Carolina a frustrated restaurateur had to post: “Screaming children will not be tolerated.”

Too bad no national stop sign exists to restrain spitfire tantrum throwers called “kamikaze Republicans,” willing to destroy America to save it. Or rogue Florida pastors who need to read many more holy books, not burn any.  Or bigoted, one-note media opportunists chastising diverse New Yorkers about religious tolerance.

Don’t expect tough love or compelling reprimands from our politest of presidents, even-tempered to a fault. Though passionate about his own election, Mr. Obama remains weirdly sluggish as fellow Democrats face doom.  Nor will challenged Democrats provide much splashy intercession, so scared spitless they barely peep.

Protesters hot, president cold

Oddly, while white-hot miscreants invent countless job-stealing, bomb-throwing threats under every Koran, NY street corner, or headless desert cactus, the head of the party in charge proceeds as if without serious enemies.  Right!  Those nasty tire slashers eviscerating Mr. Obama’s character, birthplace, and religion just happen to differ with his philosophy or remain indifferent to his charms.

Is this the choice, on the one hand delusions by hateful, racist reactionaries pushed by the Party of No – vs. an ambushed party and president in stark denial of America’s dark side, acting, well, like naive newcomers to the land of plenty?   All the while, these united states disintegrate into ungovernability, with the scary prospect of Congress seized by unrepentant ideologues ordering up double Bush-Cheney suckerburgers?

Progressives thus reside in no man’s land, stuck between overwrought paranoids on the right and tranquilized Democrats on the right-center.  The result: sustained, ill-tempered acting out increases without a critical mass of empowered adults who can check outbursts and exile the worst disrupters.  No tough love invites a political free-for-all food fight led by juvenile delinquents, even if fringe GOP senate nominees.

What happens when politics shifts from any consensus attempts to solve problems to the accumulation of faux grievances for grievance sake?  Queen of the All-American Grievance Campaign, Sarah Palin, of course.  What happens when disordered opportunists sniff out obscure cracks or vulnerabilities (like book-burning) before pumping them full of nitroglycerin?  Nonsense rules and it’s not trivial.

Conniption against the 20th Century

In fact, an insurgency of tantrums, thundering “No” to 20th Century America, smacks of calculated, domestic terrorism. Look at the deviant GOP nominees who want to finish the Reagan-Bush assault against the New Deal plus negate major social and rights advances since the “60s. Book-burning is the latest caterwauling, obscenely yoked to what by all rights should have been an uneventful expansion of a functional, community Muslim center in NY.

Armed with media, agents of disorder are like flu contagions, capable of pandemic impacts if widely spread. A rightwing joke about Obama’s birthplace starts, then blossoms into idiotic currency because so many extremists yammer on. Thus, Small Lies explode into Big Lies, and we’re saddled not only with the first African-American president but the first African president.  This latest intellectual hissy fit by the Newt Gingrich puppet talks up Obama’s “Kenyan anti-colonial” mindset (say, what about Afghan invasions?)

As Gene Robinson summarizes, “the American people are acting like a bunch of spoiled brats.” Or worse: such tantrums undermine our two core beliefs: “all men are created equal” and the majority rules. Obviously Muslims aren’t created equal to Yanks, and no terrorist fellow traveler deserves “our” freedoms.  Mexican-Americans aren’t equal to good Americans, for just “looking foreign” invites profiling.  Gay people are hardly equal, thus the military can drum them out on a rumor. Who doubts majority rule is next, obscured by the Rapture or divine messengers?  When your politics feeds on “faith alone,” you don’t need 51% of anything to barge ahead.

Some more equal than others

Self-entitlements of the chosen make a group “more equal than others,” especially if rightwing, white, small-town, Christian, free market types. Why should today’s “chosen people” bend to less favored groups, especially Jesus-deniers. Not to mention socialist, foreign, alien outliers. When God is on your side, there is only one “right” side: after all, doesn’t being a radical protestant means violently protesting false authority blocking one’s redemption? Thus, opponents morph into perpetual enemies, Christians battling for world domination with Islam, per the latest truly offensive Gingrich video.

The only parental, political rejoinder I know is to celebrate what there is to celebrate across our last century (and constructively criticize the rest). I don’t know why an ex-law professor cannot be the Constitution-educator-in-chief, instructing misinformed citizens galore about America’s rules of the game.  If there’s no political or social penalty, what stops feeding the politics of terrorist temper tantrums?

Good Government

The best defense here is offense: directly assail the calculated GOP decimation of working and middle-class families as contrary to the American promise. Ridicule the GOP for what they are: dishonest betrayers of the spirit and letter of the Constitution. Shred their core objective: if this president “fails,” so goes America economically. The only good news from a midterm fiasco is the subsequent 2X4 to Democrats and this administration. I doubt big changes, but shock and awe can penetrate the most tranquilized of politicians. The only way to trump false beliefs is to assert truer beliefs, to support candidates who stand for something beyond their re-election.

Ultimately, for all the negligence, stupidity and wickedness attributable to our system, modern life disintegrates without the government we have, warts and all. The rejoinder to “distrust government” is this unarguable reality: 300+ million Americans depend on government, every day. God doesn’t deliver our daily bread, but agencies oversee safety across food, drink, transportation, prescriptions, and air quality, facilitating health, flu shots, energy, electricity, even stop signs and traffic lights. Mass poisonings and pandemics are rarer here than 9/11 events, positives that reflect oversight.

Thanks to government, airplane travel is safe, highways, bridges and tunnels function (almost all the time), and nearly everyone has some police protection, however spotty or delayed. Nearly all veterans get adequate care (well, no worse than ever), Social Security is solvent, and Medicare functions more efficiently than any private insurance plan. No one on the left defends our government at its worst (imperialism, cronyism, corruption, rendition, or torture), or worries “it ain’t like it used to be.” The big issue isn’t what we have now, even once had, but what new disorder and distrust rains down if temper tantrums displace politics, and spoiled brats continue to rampage unchecked.


Let’s Have a Real Protest, Not a Democratic Pep Rally, on October 2nd by Glen Ford

A Fist in the System Oct. 2, 2010 By Timothy V. Gatto

The Truth and Its Consequences By Timothy V. Gatto

Finding common ground in these times by Roxanne Amico

Democrats’ Corporate Cocoon by Ralph Nader