The New Anger is a term coined by Peter Wood in “A Bee in the Mouth: Anger in America now”. I havent read the book of course but have read a couple of reviews and seen it picked up in a couple of blogs. I’ve taken the liberty of extracting an extract of the book from a very good review by Stanley Kurtz on NRO books:
“New Anger involves deriding an opponent for the sheer pleasure of expressing contempt for other people….New Anger is a spectacle to be witnessed by an appreciative audience, not an attempt to win over the uncommitted.”
Even though the book is about America, it seems to me that the New Anger can certainly apply in Australia especially in the realm of politics and various community reactions – not just in the blogosphere but in general. In Australia, it seems that the New Anger is certainly one that afflicts the Howard-haters, a derogatory term that is generally used by Howard supporters. If I didnt actually personally know very many Howard-haters, I would have seen it as yet another tactic by the Right to demean their opponents and devalue their arguments.
Before I go further however, I should say that I am not a supporter of the Howard government. I believe that many of its actions, including the most recent revocation of Dr Haneef and his wife’s visa by the Immigration Minister, are morally reprehensible and a corruption of government process. My emotional reaction when I found out about it was anger and despair. I can certainly understand why intelligent and passionate Americans would feel the same under their current government.
However, at the same time, I have very little respect for Howard-haters and the New Anger. Surely the first sign of emotional maturity is the ability to control one’s emotions and to not indulge in them? Regardless of the position of one’s opponent, we must never lose sight of their humanity and the respect that we owe them, the same respect that we owe ourselves. How else can we have any discussion, any debate?