Headlines would leave the reader believing that there are several wars against modernity. The war on women, the war on religion, the war on drugs, the war on any other war some political marketer wants to sell. Literal war in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan (via flying death robots), standing American armies all across the globe. The enormous gulf that has emerged between the most wealthy and the most poor. The value of accreditation over intelligence. The disintegration of understanding and compassion, or even recognition of human dignity outside one’s own tribe.
There is really one war, and it is this: the inner battle of white American men, as they strive to redefine themselves and understand their loss of privilege.
I am not sympathizing with a racist man who shoots up a place of worship. I want to understand him, and understand his worldview, so I can help diffuse this tension and create a more peaceful world.
What is the experience of being a white male American today, and how does this compare with his belief of what that experience was like in the past? What does he believe that he has lost?
I don’t ask what does it mean to be an white male American. Meaning is a value judgement.
To understand him, I have to step into his world and leave my own behind. I have to willingly suspend my belief in the morals that I personally hold. I have to put myself in the center of his world, both real and perceived. I have to become that man, to see how the world looks through his eyes, and then I might be able to understand why he thinks the way he thinks and does the things he does.
If I am a white American male who grew up in a culture where I have certain privileges; where wives and mothers perform household maintenance, defer to my leadership, where I can be fairly confident that the market for my job skills is limited so my chances of employment is good, why would I NOT be offended, outraged, threatened, by the loss of this lifestyle?
Wifes and mothers no longer performing these tasks, twenty people applying for a job where there used to be five, and some of them might not even speak the language. Wages stagnating because less skilled workers will take lower pay, and then corporate bosses moving jobs overseas where the labor is cheaper still. How’s a guy supposed to get by?
This man isn’t just a poor southern blue collar worker. The corporate raiders and Wall Street traders and software engineers and surgeons and senators who have worked their way to their positions of privilege are just as vulnerable as the auto mechanic. What’s more, they might feel they have more to lose than their lower class bretheren, and while their warfare will be cleaner, it will be just as brutal.
Media adds a feedback loop of resentment. The man on the radio tells you that you lost out on the American Dream because some other guy (usually a brown guy) took “your” job. Calibrated language, designed to raise anger and suspicion, jacks up your tension further. The man calls women dames and broads and chicks, and then taunts you with them. These dames and broads and chicks are taking your job, and they’re not doing their own, and they’re flaunting their sexuality at you, but they want you to pay for their birth control (which they use with somebody else)… what’s a guy to do? He gets mad, and who can blame him?
This is the subconscious background tape of the angry white American male is listening to. If you want to stop the violence, reduce the wealth gap, and restore basic fairness, you’ve got to stop that background tape.
You’ve also got to recognize that he HAS lost the privilege he thought he was going to live with. There is no guarantee that someone will be there to perform the around-life tasks. Grocery shopping and cooking and laundry and childcare. He has to do these things himself now, AND compete with his wife in the job market. His feelings of loss and grief have to be validated, NOT because you agree that he SHOULD have privilege in the first place, but because, in order to get him to work toward a more equal future, you’ve got to demonstrate that you respect him and his past. He can’t think and reason and negotiate if he feels threatened, and right now, he feels his life is on the line.
When this threatened man is finally validated, when he knows that we know that he lost out on the good life he expected, and when he has grieved that loss, then he can start to imagine what a future might look like, and how it might be ok after all.
Now I have to decide if I have the courage to speak these unspeakable truths. Because the mantra of the left is that The Man is always wrong, and there is nothing good in him, and you should NEVER validate an angry, violent person, no matter what their reason for being angry or violent might be.
And do I have the courage to speak these unspeakable truths at the same time I’m hawking myself out as a writer, willing to sell your product lies to anyone I can get to buy them?