The tectonic cultural shifts in our society are pulling in our kids toward a culture of emotional outrage. Is encouraging emotional outrage a form of abuse, especially when it is kindled in our youth as a form of voicing resistance?
Is it abuse when children are given a script to believe in, not provided all the facts and then pushed onto the front lines of an ideological war?
It very likely is.
Across the board, children are being pulled into adult issues instead of being allowed to be children. While there is merit in teaching children the key skills they need to organize and get their voice heard, there is also a high risk of
- Indoctrinating children into our own agendas under the banner of activism
- Encouraging the use of rage of a tool of resistance
A leader in the movement to prevent violent extremism, Christianne Boudreau, writes a compelling article “Will We Be Heard If We Only Shout Loud Enough?” In it she shares how groups from environmentalists to communists, white nationalists to Islamists, all “tend to bring the discourse to a higher level of emotion.”
Boudreau is right. As a feminist, I was alarmed by some of the rhetoric I saw in the Women’s March of 2017 and 2018, which was specifically designed to stoke rage. Along with rage came:
- Vulgar images and phrases that shouldn’t be considered appropriate in public spaces, let alone where children are present
- Arguments that lacked, well, an argument. They were little more than incoherent ramblings and emotional hysteria
The Women’s March, originally a well-intentioned movement stemming from the imagination of one Hawaii-based nurse, turned into a something monstrous — fueled by collective rage.
However, as I wrote in a Federalist article in October of 2018 around the time of the hearings over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh,
Rage is a process; it is not a solution. [It was] another trigger point for the tide crashing against the shore of a larger orchestrated movement that is not necessarily in the best interest of women: the Women’s March and the Me Too movement. I don’t see movements led with feminine strength, grace, and compassion. It is not a quiet push into a new paradigm. Instead I see hysteria and chaotic emotion. We smashed the patriarchy and didn’t replace it with anything. What we have now is a drunken free for all.
The Me Too movement has been blurred because of an inability to distinguish genuine victims of sexual abuse and exploitation from reconstructed memory along the lines of “well he looked at me the wrong way five years ago and now my life is a mess” to outright fabrications by women against innocent men in order to ride the victim wagon for 15 more minutes of fame. All of this is made possible through the hyperactivity that emotional outrage brings.
The Women’s March also has largely died down because of the problematic views of its public figureheads. Those views include Black nationalism, Islamism and anti-Semitism. However the movement had a strong two-year run that drew in a generation of little girls as young as six- and seven-years old.
Newer movements (now directly involving children because, of course, what kind of monster would deny a child this “education”) are shifting into increasingly polarizing political arenas where children are not allowed to explore all options; they’re simply fed the narrative.
In the case of climate change for example, the simpler, more wholesome narrative would be to encourage environmental conscientious, to reduce waste and encourage practices that are more beneficial to our eco-system. Instead the narrative is climate change and the latest weapons deployed are children. And of course, high emotional outrage…from children.
The incident between Senator Feinstein and children who marched into her office demanding change illustrate this point:
In the case of Senator Feinstein, how many of those kids came in from playing outdoors and decided to organize and head to an elected official’s office versus how many of them were talked into it by their parents? How many of those children were groomed over and over again into how to look at the issue, what to say, how to think and feel, and finally how to weaponize that emotion as a political tool?
Boudreau outlines how damaging this culture of elevated emotion is:
“It is our youth that bears the brunt of much of the collateral damage being done by these groups. Young people are often made to feel they must choose a side. If you’re not with one group, then you must be with the other. The middle ground in public discourse has all but disappeared, and those that try to stay in this space by keeping silent don’t have an opportunity to have their voice heard – leading to much frustration.”