Righteous Rage

Sunday, February 6, 2022

What Is It

Stoic philosopher Seneca wrote that anger is a form of madness. Other philosophers share this suspicion, viewing anger as a destructive emotion that leads to cruel and vengeful acts. But don't certain kinds of injustice, like the murders of black and brown people in the US, deserve our rage? What's the difference between righteous indignation and a destructive urge for revenge? And how can activists channel their anger toward political good? Josh and Ray keep their cool with Myisha Cherry from UC Riverside, author of The Case for Rage: Why Anger is Essential to Anti-racist Struggle.

Comments (3)

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Thursday, December 30, 2021 -- 10:08 PM

I have been called angry

I have been called angry often when I self-report as intense. Anger is in the eyes of the beholder. When one acts in rage, this is deemed acceptable when premised on justice. Immunity to prosecution for the killer cuckold who comes upon the act is an ancient use case.

Myisha Cherry doesn’t disambiguate rage from anger, but she does break out several forms of anger – and cherry-picks her own form “Lordean” to pertain to an anti-racist rage. Before this, she outlines several others; “Rouge Rage” – anger at injustice, “Wipe Rage” – anger with a genocidal aim to eliminate oppressor groups, “Ressentiment Rage” – reactive anger against those in power, and “Narcissistic Rage” – anger at not being accepted for one’s exceptional merit. Not all of these angers are Cherry’s, but lordean anger is. It is based on Audre Lorde’s work, which is new to my understanding.

Myisha also points to several ways of coping with anger – especially lordean anger. I have to say … I don’t get it.

There is a difference between anger and rage. Lordean is no different from road rage in my mind or when my demented loved one has a fit about something I did. Rage is never righteous, and violence is one step away from rage.

Slavery happened, is still happening. For the most part, we have always been racist, and it is part of our brain’s maturation.

I enjoyed the book. I liked the references to Portland, the advice to allies, the hope of channeling rage into productive purpose. I don’t see it. Anger is a bellwether for unjust acts (whether true or false.) We need to listen and take action with the mindset of correcting injustice and moving on. Understanding is not going to come from thinking some rage is acceptable while another is not. People don’t work that way. I’ll listen to the show and perhaps change on this. I doubt it.

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Daniel's picture


Friday, December 31, 2021 -- 7:21 PM

What if someone claims that

What if someone claims that slavery in the Americas never occurred, and the trade was one of ivory, not human beings? And let's say that someone objects to this and calmly sits down and tries to explain to the one making the claim the historical evidence which refutes it. Wouldn't one who observes this exchange be justifiably angry at the emotional indifference to the violence of such a claim and the notion that it should be entertained at all? How could one who becomes angry in response to angerlessness escape responsibility for public expression of that anger without sharing justified condemnation along with the author of the original claim?

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Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 -- 10:32 AM

When I was growing up,

When I was growing up, churchmen and women famously called anger righteous indignation. This was meant to soften that which was frowned upon by righteous folks. This is another example of something I have christened contextual reality. We are taught, in other spheres of experience that unreasoning, senseless rage is inhuman and, well, just wrong. But, there it is. Not sure where this leaves us or where it goes. Just in another version of reality, I guess?

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