Is Political Venting Cathartic?


Outrage is expressed across the internet at the (Friday, August 11, 2017) white nationalist march on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville. A gathering that is described as one of the largest of its kind in recent memory. The Democratic Party is, once again, tearing itself apart. With Berniecrats and centrists accusing each other of latent racism.

Is this the beginning of the end? Or the end of a beginning?

I do not like racism. I don’t like any –ism. I don’t condone any behavior which is driven by mindless posturing. Without any recourse to reflection and temperance. Especially if it leads to violence. And frankly, that includes much of the behavior of organizations like the AltRight – and BlackLivesMatter. If you care about an issue – especially what you might regard as targeted deaths. Do something about it. Don’t just respond to hate with more hate. And certainly not with violence.

But that appears to be the political order of the day in our world at the moment. What is important is not what is done. Not what is accomplished. Not what is real. Not the hard work, that takes years, and is most often done most effectively behind closed doors, away from photo ops. No. What is most important is what can end up in a Tweet. On Facebook. On Instagram. What gives us the fifteen minutes of attention to which we all now feel we are naturally entitled. What satisfies our immediate feelings. Regardless of consequence.

Deep in the heart of the CNN article about the most recent spat in the Democratic Party is the use of the phrase ‘tone police.’ And that sums it all up. The spat, as with so much in politics at the moment, is not about substance. It is about ‘tone.’ And to be brutally honest, much of that comes back to political posturing. Political profile. Political positioning.

I have no time for the Trigger Brigade or Call-Out Culture. Words are words. Yes, they can hurt. But they are not batons. They are not rubber hoses. They are not attack dogs. Whatever else may be happening in US society today. Whether we are happy or not with our President. Our Democratic leadership. The seeming whiteness of the Berniecrats. The apparent intolerance of BlackLivesMatter. Matched by the seething intolerance of the AltRight. Whether we like a statue or not. The name of a student hall. Indeed, whether or not we like the Trigger Brigade or Call-Out Culture. Whatever is happening. None of this is taking us back to the Fifties and before. None of it is violent revolution. The only ‘revolution’ using that moniker publicly, at the moment, is led by a peaceful 75-year old from Vermont. That is the context. Put it all in perspective.

But should we?

It would be easy to say, hey, just calm down. Stop playing to your gallery. Tone it down – on the subject of ‘tone police.’ Take a deep breath. Find common ground. But, you know. Whenever I’ve been in a facilitation, the first thing a moderator does is say, take five, vent, get it out. Leech the poison. Then, we can get down to business.

I’ve been as ‘guilty’ as anyone of encouraging more fruitful discussion. But maybe I’m wrong? Maybe all this venting is good? Needed? In which case, folks. Take a deep breath. Put it in perspective. There were no lynchings in Charlottesville. No white people have been shot at a BlackLivesMatter protest. The petition-bearers at the DNC weren’t sent to segregated bathrooms. A statue is just a statue. And words are still just words.

So. Vent away. Maybe all this polarizing and demonizing is a good thing? Maybe we need a President who is a demonizer-in-chief? If only for a while? Maybe, our society has been building up so many different heads of steam for so long now, that they all need to blow off for a while? Maybe we could all do with a period during which the poison is leeched?

Provided we keep it to just that. Provided we constantly self-monitor (so as to keep it all in perspective). Provided it does not lead to more hate and to violence. Provided we do admit, if only to ourselves, that more often than not it is just political manipulation. Political posturing. Provided we realize that, at some point, it can become harmful, if, as with facilitation, we do not eventually sit down, and start to engage meaningfully. To look for solutions. To undertake the hard work of substantive progress.

So. Be appalled. All you like. But then. Roll up sleeves. And begin to be grown up …

(Facebook comments are here.)

(This is the first of a batch of posts I wrote about the incidents in Charlottesville, and the following ‘debates’ about racial hatred in the US, the Confederate South and Trump’s behavior in respect of the same. I took the view that the ‘batch’ had about it the air of a series. So, I created a new blog for these posts, called Hate No-one.)

Published in: on August 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

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