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Where Fox Geezers Come From

As a follow-up to yesterday’s Fox Geezers thread, here are a couple of things that might explain where at least some of the Fox Geezerism comes from. First, an excerpt from a 2010 Jonathan Haidt essay on the roots of the Tea Party:

To understand the anger of the tea-party movement, just imagine how you would feel if you learned that government physicists were building a particle accelerator that might, as a side effect of its experiments, nullify the law of gravity. Everything around us would float away, and the Earth itself would break apart. Now, instead of that scenario, suppose you learned that politicians were devising policies that might, as a side effect of their enactment, nullify the law of karma. Bad deeds would no longer lead to bad outcomes, and the fragile moral order of our nation would break apart. For tea partiers, this scenario is not science fiction. It is the last 80 years of American history.

Note that Haidt is not saying that the Tea Partiers are right in their premises or the logic that leads them to their conclusions. He’s only trying to point out that their anger isn’t entirely groundless. It comes from somewhere.

A second point is an excerpt that Sean Scallon posted in that thread, taken from an essay he wrote around the same time:

Let’s say you’re a white man, mid-40s to mid-60s. You’re a Vet. You’ve had some college education. You live in a mid-sized town. Over the past 20 years the middle class job you worked at disappeared due to outsourcing and you had to go work for the county highway department just to keep up the lifestyle you’re accustomed to. You see your fellow Marines dying in a foreign hellhole and outside of a some care packages by the local school and welcome home ceremonies for the local National Guard unit, no one really seems to realize we’re fighting a war. Your retirement plan was fried by the Panic and now you’ll be relying heavily on Social Security and your kids to take care of you when you get old. Your home is worth less than your mortgage and the property taxes on it keep going up. The local food processing plant in town hired immigrants from a big city with different customs, religion and language to live and work in your town because they were willing to take $5 an hour. Your taxes have to go any pay for their families’ welfare benefits at those wages. Half the signs in town are bilingual. And on top of all that, someone from the town thought to put in a European-style roundabout at one of the main intersections you still haven’t figured out how to drive in yet.

The last example may seem trivial, but its another change experience this person has gone through in a short amount of time historically which has completely jarred and upset him, none of which he asked for or voted for and yet it happened anyway.

I’ll tell you all more about this later, after I’ve done more reading and thought about it some more, and our work is complete, but this brings to mind something I’ve confronted this year. I’ve been working on a team focusing on a project having to do with black history in the South, and after going through historical data that was new to me, including a particular instance of white supremacist cruelty, I turned to a black colleague and said, in all sincerity, “I don’t know how black people in this country aren’t angry all the time.”

That is not to say that all angry black people are always justified in their anger, or to agree with their premises, or the logic that leads them to their conclusions on a given issue. Anger can blind a man to reality in any number of ways. It is only to say that the things I’ve been working with for much of this year has given me a new understanding of why things are the way they are today. You get a popular fool like Al Sharpton on the black left, or a popular fool like Mark Levin on the white right, and, depending on your point of view, you assume that anybody who is moved by their fatmouthing demagoguery must be illegitimate — that is, have little or no grounds for their anger. That’s just not true.

The problem with the kind of anger you see in Fox Geezer Syndrome, or whatever its left-wing equivalent is, is that the anger consumes everything else. Those guys aren’t able to walk away from their anger. It masters them.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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