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The Angry White Man

In election 2008, don’t forget Angry White Man

by Gary Hubbell
February 9, 2008

There is a great amount of interest in this year’s presidential elections, as everybody seems to recognize that our next president has to be a lot better than George Bush. The Democrats are riding high with two groundbreaking candidates — a woman and an African-American — while the conservative Republicans are in a quandary about their party’s nod to a quasi-liberal maverick, John McCain.

Each candidate is carefully pandering to a smorgasbord of special-interest groups, ranging from gay, lesbian and transgender people to children of illegal immigrants to working mothers to evangelical Christians.

There is one group no one has recognized, and it is the group that will decide the election: the Angry White Man. The Angry White Man comes from all economic backgrounds, from dirt-poor to filthy rich. He represents all geographic areas in America, from urban sophisticate to rural redneck, deep South to mountain West, left Coast to Eastern Seaboard.

His common traits are that he isn’t looking for anything from anyone — just the promise to be able to make his own way on a level playing field. In many cases, he is an independent businessman and employs several people. He pays more than his share of taxes and works hard.

The victimhood syndrome buzzwords — “disenfranchised,” “marginalized” and “voiceless” — don’t resonate with him. “Press ‘one’ for English” is a curse-word to him. He’s used to picking up the tab, whether it’s the company Christmas party, three sets of braces, three college educations or a beautiful wedding.

He believes the Constitution is to be interpreted literally, not as a “living document” open to the whims and vagaries of a panel of judges who have never worked an honest day in their lives.

The Angry White Man owns firearms, and he’s willing to pick up a gun to defend his home and his country. He is willing to lay down his life to defend the freedom and safety of others, and the thought of killing someone who needs killing really doesn’t bother him.

The Angry White Man is not a metrosexual, a homosexual or a victim. Nobody like him drowned in Hurricane Katrina — he got his people together and got the hell out, then went back in to rescue those too helpless and stupid to help themselves, often as a police officer, a National Guard soldier or a volunteer firefighter.

His last name and religion don’t matter. His background might be Italian, English, Polish, German, Slavic, Irish, or Russian, and he might have Cherokee, Mexican, or Puerto Rican mixed in, but he considers himself a white American.

He’s a man’s man, the kind of guy who likes to play poker, watch football, hunt white-tailed deer, call turkeys, play golf, spend a few bucks at a strip club once in a blue moon, change his own oil and build things. He coaches baseball, soccer and football teams and doesn’t ask for a penny. He’s the kind of guy who can put an addition on his house with a couple of friends, drill an oil well, weld a new bumper for his truck, design a factory and publish books. He can fill a train with 100,000 tons of coal and get it to the power plant on time so that you keep the lights on and never know what it took to flip that light switch.

Women either love him or hate him, but they know he’s a man, not a dishrag. If they’re looking for someone to walk all over, they’ve got the wrong guy. He stands up straight, opens doors for women and says “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am.”

He might be a Republican and he might be a Democrat; he might be a Libertarian or a Green. He knows that his wife is more emotional than rational, and he guides the family in a rational manner.
He’s not a racist, but he is annoyed and disappointed when people of certain backgrounds exhibit behavior that typifies the worst stereotypes of their race. He’s willing to give everybody a fair chance if they work hard, play by the rules and learn English.

Most important, the Angry White Man is pissed off. When his job site becomes flooded with illegal workers who don’t pay taxes and his wages drop like a stone, he gets righteously angry. When his job gets shipped overseas, and he has to speak to some incomprehensible idiot in India for tech support, he simmers. When Al Sharpton comes on TV, leading some rally for reparations for slavery or some such nonsense, he bites his tongue and he remembers. When a child gets charged with carrying a concealed weapon for mistakenly bringing a penknife to school, he takes note of who the local idiots are in education and law enforcement.

He also votes, and the Angry White Man loathes Hillary Clinton. Her voice reminds him of a shovel scraping a rock. He recoils at the mere sight of her on television. Her very image disgusts him, and he cannot fathom why anyone would want her as their leader. It’s not that she is a woman. It’s that she is who she is. It’s the liberal victim groups she panders to, the “poor me” attitude that she represents, her inability to give a straight answer to an honest question, his tax dollars that she wants to give to people who refuse to do anything for themselves.

There are many millions of Angry White Men. Four million Angry White Men are members of the National Rifle Association, and all of them will vote against Hillary Clinton, just as the great majority of them voted for George Bush.

He hopes that she will be the Democratic nominee for president in 2008, and he will make sure that she gets beaten like a drum.

Gary Hubbell is a regular columnist with the Aspen Times Weekly.

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Response to the "Angry White Man" column

This article, written by a columnist of the Aspen Times, addresses some of the themes of I, too, am a white man living in the United States of America. I, too, am occasionally angry. But I would not want my own identity to be defined by anger. is, after all, about choosing a positive identity for oneself. It is about the quest of finding a better self, rooted in authentic experiences but allowing freedom to decide such things for oneself.

The above article refers to white-male anger directed against Hillary Clinton. Yes, I have also had those feelings. Hillary’s personality leaves something to be desired: a certain insincerity, falling back on political cliches and appeals to special interest groups. The Hillary haters remember how, at the outset of her husband’s presidency, she said she would never be content baking cookies and doing those other things that loving housewives sometimes do for their families. She was a feminist, focused on power. She personified the "Mamma knows best" philosophy of the Nanny State, wanting to take away our freedoms.

Hillary Clinton gave the impression of wanting to use government to alter power relationships within society and within the family. In the name of equality, her type of politics gave preference to women, minorities, homosexuals, and others in the coalition of officially disadvantaged groups. White men were stigmatized as abusers, even when they were powerless as individuals.

But anger directed against Hillary Clinton is personally corrosive, as any kind of anger is. We can feel better about ourselves if we let go of this anger and perhaps even feel a bit of sympathy for this old nemesis, now experiencing defeat. Surely, we would not want to define ourselves in terms of hating someone. We should define ourselves by our own ideals and aspirations.

The columnist gets to the question of positive identity with this statement: "He’s .... the kind of guy who likes to play poker, watch football, hunt white-tailed deer, call turkeys, play golf, spend a few bucks at a strip club once in a blue moon, change his own oil and build things. He coaches baseball, soccer and football teams and doesn’t ask for a penny. He’s the kind of guy who can put an addition on his house with a couple of friends, drill an oil well, weld a new bumper for his truck, design a factory and publish books.”

Well, maybe this description fits some white males but it doesn’t fit me. Publishing books is the only thing that rings a bell. I am not a hunter. I do not own a gun. My football-watching or card-playing time is quite limited. I doubt if I could put an addition on my house or find friends to help me. Instead, I am an intellectual, a man of ideas, the kind of person that the archetypical white male loves to hate. So where does this self-identification leave me?

My ideals are stuck in the past, in the world of the 1950s and 1960s when I grew up. I could be proud of Detroit’s automobile industry. Men like Henry Ford, William S. Knudsen, and Walter P. Chrysler were men of vision and ability who put our nation on wheels. I could also be proud of Walter Reuther and the union people who fought the automobile companies but contributed to progress in their own way. The more the creative “greatness” of that place was ignored, the more I would want to celebrate it.

With respect to intellectuals, I remember economists like Milton Friedman, E.F. Schumacher, and Kenneth Boulding who took a broad view of the “dismal science”. These were not “gatekeepers” like today’s academics who set themselves up to exclude people from participating in certain fields but persons who encouraged others to participate. They were persons of immense intellectual curiosity who liked to argue about ideas. I also remember and respect historians like Arnold Toynbee and inventors like Buckminster Fuller. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not the only “great soul” who lived during that time. I wish we could recreate its world in which the “pursuit of truth” meant something.

But now we are living in a world in which both education and journalism have become thoroughly politicized. It is a world which is ideologically hostile to me as a white male. While a poetess such as Maya Angelou is praised to the skies, my poetic friend and singing companion, Robert Bly, is viewed with suspicion. No wonder the “angry white man” retreats from the world of ideas, finding solace in hunting deer, drinking beer, and watching professional football games. This world is ideologically stacked against him. He would be a glutton for punishment if he sought to enter, argue, and make a difference.

Our salvation lies in recognizing the extent to which America’s respected institutions have deteriorated; we must create our own more congenial world. An angry man is a man who has lost what he once had. So long as he is angry, he remains a loser. Therefore, let go of Hillary Clinton. Let her be. Instead, get angry at people like Dick Cheney and George W. Bush who have disgraced the idea of American white males - and Yale men, in particular. We have been betrayed by our own representatives. Make them pay by withholding respect for them personally, and then move on.

It would be good if President John McCain redeemed the honor of our group; but if Barack Obama became president, this would not bother me. I have nothing against him as a black man - or a man half black and white. As Obama himself says, we must get beyond that divisive mentality.

Yes, we have a problem with loss of our jobs to illegal immigrants and to call centers in India. We are encouraged to put a Mexican or Indian (or Chinese) face on the problem and hate these people when it is actually U.S. corporate executives and their sycophants in government who have orchestrated the flight of jobs from our country or winked at illegal crossings of our southern border.

Maybe we Americans were privileged to grow up in a land blessed with abundant natural resources and an economic infrastructure that created material wealth; and if the rest of the world wants to share our prosperity, who can blame them? Rather than demonize the Chinese as being “communist” or habitual “cheaters” on currency adjustment or intellectual-property protection, recognize that the leaders of the Chinese government are merely asserting their national self-interest as our leaders ought to be doing for us.

None of this moralizing helps. The anger is misdirected. The problem of our place in the emerging global economy is a challenge that ought to be approached objectively. Surely rational people around the world can find ways to cooperate to mutual advantage.

So I don’t think we white males ought to be pleading for sympathy from others, as the Aspen Colorado newspaper columnist seems to do. We need first to plead for sympathy from persons like ourselves - i.e., stop the self hating. Then, perhaps, likeminded persons who have stopped hating themselves or being distracted by hating others can come together in an enterprise of common salvation. Rational steps can then be taken to build that better community which once existed in America but which has lately been lost.

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