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Stanley Crouch: Resisting mass hysteria

Sinking down into gloom and doom must always be avoided. That is the cowardly way out.

It is far better to do the harder but far less dramatic work of applying patient, nonviolent pressure to bring about change.

Yet so many of us — conservatives, radicals, so-called minorities and others — are relentlessly encouraged to lower our thoughts under the influence of the hyperbolic rhetoric that runs rampant, all designed to stoke fear and irrationality.

This is most common with the members on the dwindling far right side of the GOP, greatly disturbing Republicans like David Frum and Joe Scarborough, forming a Gang of Three with Peggy Noonan.

These serious minds warn against what the red base of the GOP is being deluded by, causing it to fight a lost cause that will shrink them more as a principled political force.

They are told the government will set up death panels or will send black helicopters. The fearmongers want them to believe that unless they hyperventilate, unless they resist with every fiber of their being, the end of life as they know it could be at hand.

We see this in reactions to the protests in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman.

To the professional hysterics and the industry of overreaction they promote, black and brown kids were supposed to be so loosely wrapped that they could not, would not, repress the thuggish or whorish inclinations that inspire the worst of hip-hop and the denigration of women.

So, when a teenager is killed by an irresponsible neighborhood watchman who chooses not to follow 911 orders, we were supposed to expect riots.

When — what do you know — protests were almost uniformly peaceful, you could almost feel the disappointment.

Or see the similarly unhinged reaction to Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, whose filibuster to stop an abortion bill from passing (it ultimately did pass) had some Democrats touting her as a future governor.

When Davis rose, and people stood with her, the right wing did all in its power to cough up an apoplectic, how-dare-she response.

The carnival barkers get ever louder, it seems, to prey on the shortcomings of human nature.

Mr. Shill, Sean Hannity, continues to profit from racial paranoia, no matter, for now, the way he is always called out by a true and rational conservative.

Joe Scarborough is whom I mean, given that he refused to join the buffalo herd of opportunists leading to the perilous future over the cliff of American reality.

But as the volume of Mr. Shill and his crew rises steadily, the sensible majority quietly but just as steadily tunes them out.

The abolition movement is the truest expression of how this dynamic works — how calm and reason ultimately bring us through the storm.

It cannot be read or studied enough how those men and women created a more illuminated path, showing by example how to fight the power.

This is why we should never be too distracted by the stubborn problems with black or all so-called minority youth.

They will eventually know what growing up means.

They will eventually understand the difference between responsible and irresponsible policy, between responsible and irresponsible action.

You can see it now in the young people in Florida, where many would expect the black asphalt to be boiling over.

But things are quite different, and that difference is a version of real awareness. Phillip Agnew, the executive director of Dream Defenders, said on MSNBC’s "All In With Chris Hayes" that "Though we could be angry, and though we could destroy cities as the media would like to say we would do, we’ve decided to direct our anger in a way that moves us forward."

Then there is the wounded nobility of Trayvon Martin’s parents, who expressed their grief far from hysteria.

They stood against any would-be revolutionary violence besmirching their son’s name, doing as much as could be done in the electronic context of talking-head reality.

Whenever the more human qualities of so-called minorities are recognized, the motion forward always continues to move.

The result is empathy of the sort that fueled the abolition movement, the women’s movement and the contemporary women’s rights movement — now symbolized by Planned Parenthood and its supporters standing their ground against Texas laws — and the parent-led gun-safety movement.

All are affirmative signs of the American soul’s ability to constantly rise from the canvas of the long battle and spit blood in the bucket while catching a breath before the bell rings again.

Such people know how to "fight the power." Someday, it will be more right than wrong. That’s the bittersweet fact of national history and national life.

Stanley Crouch can be reached by email at