I'd like to address the letter from Tuesday, Oct. 4's issue of The New Hampshire from the program director of the UNH College Democrats. While not going into a discussion of the particular ideology he espoused, I'd like to examine one statement from the letter: "Get angry, get involved, make change happen!" Okay, so really it's two words in this sentence: "Get angry."
I've been suspect of this mantra since I first heard it. The first time I came across it was on a bumper sticker: "If you're not outraged you're not paying attention!" Brilliant. I know the punk-rock mentality impresses upon us at an early age (Hey, I love it too), but is anger in itself a good thing to promote? Does it really facilitate the change you are looking for directly? Too often, I turn away from activist displays and activist groups on campus because it seems that being angry about something is their primary goal. Too often I see people cling to a cause that they have never examined, or buy into a platform of an entire party because that party appealed to some sort of reactionary teenage rebellion within them.
Now, don't get me wrong. I love rebellion. It served to get this country started, regardless of how that country turned out. But the anger that we feel towards injustice should be harnessed as a fuel for action, not a tool for action's implementation. The only result is the destruction the process that real discussion provides, which leads us towards a better understanding of what we want when we're "in it together." Anger, when used like this, prevents us from ever being on the same page.
I've seen this happen so many times on campus, in particular with the topics that had made TNH's opinion section such a hotbed in the past. Many activists and ideologues on campus have brilliantly created a paradigm in which one cannot argue against them, but that you are immediately wrong for questioning them given that they are so very much emotionally involved in the topic. They create an environment where it is impossible to attack their ideas without attacking them as people. Moreover, the environment is such that not only can you not refute them, you cannot distance yourself from them. "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."
It's ingenious, really, and allows them an open billboard on which to proclaim whatever they want as truth. If you question them, you're ignorant. If you ignore them, you're heartless. If you get angry with them, you're a bigot.
I encourage people to be careful with their anger and really examine what it is they want out of their actions. This is not to belittle the importance of passion, but to remember its place - especially here at a university.