Angry white Guys forced to deal with the reality of a changing world

May 5, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Posted in African American, American Racism, Congress, Democrats, Emancipation Proclamation, equality, European American, GOP, justice, minority,, Prejudice, President, President Obama, presidential election, segregation, socioeconomics, the Republican Party, The Thirteenth Amendment, Theda Skocpol, U.S. Supreme Court, whites | Leave a comment
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The 2008 election of Barack Obama, an African American, as President of the United States was a monumental experience in America. His election was extremely significant because it represented a major acknowledgement in the progress of social change. That social change for many people represented progress towards America achieving a higher level of positive movement in the direction of its democratic principles. Not all Americans, however, viewed Obama’s election as progress or even as positive. Thomas Magstadt, in an article entitled “Angry White Guys: The Roots of Reactionary America,” in “ “discussed his reasons for the negative reactions of some “White Guys.” The reason for the anger, according to Magstadt, can be viewed as political anger.
In describing the anger of the European American guys, Magstadt first took a look at Charlie LeDuff’s book, Detroit, An American Autopsy, and made the statement that “It’s a powerful book that speaks volumes not only about Detroit but also about most big cities in America today—cities where petty crime, gang violence, drug addiction, prostitution, poverty, vandalism, filth, abandoned buildings, arson, and despair have been on the rise for decades.” LeDuff was angry because for him Detroit is a “city suffering from a chronic condition that has taken an ugly turn and become terminal.” Basically, we are told that LeDuff’s anger was “with leaders who don’t lead and politicians who make promises they don’t even try to keep.” He blamed both political parties for the problems. So, we recognize one level of anger.
Next, Magstadt shifted to a work by Theda Skocpol, Obama And America’s Political Future, which took a look at the Tea Party and its objective to move the county in a certain direction. Although she praised the party as committed, dedicated “and unstinting in their effort to move society in the direction they desire,” she noted that much of the Tea Party’s criticism of Obama “is unrealistic.” To this charge of criticism of Obama being unrealistic, Magstadt wrote that “If so, the main reason it’s unrealistic is that Obama has, quite simply, run into a brick wall erected by rightwing Republicans in the U.S. Congress. These Republicans–including the Tea Party Caucus—are nothing like traditional Republicans.” Magstadt contended that the “extreme right-wing Republicans in Congress are not taking their cues from the grass-roots Tea Party rank-and file but are in fact cynically using them, manipulating symbols and issues that move this mass of disenchanted gray hairs, embattled blue-collar workers, anxious job –seekers, financially stressed homeowners, and beleaguered taxpayers to accomplish other aims altogether.”
After some reflection, Magstadt noted “The question is not how they [Republicans, conservatives, and Tea Partiers] can believe the nonsense they spout. The question is, why are they so damn mad? What is the source of this seeming inexhaustible wellspring of anger?”He presented a number of theories that reflected politicians, and political issues from civil rights to global warming, health insurance and Obama. He talked about the changes in America during the 1960s and ‘70s and even Ronald Reagan of the 1980s. Then he stated: “Ask yourself who [during this time] stood to gain the most? Answer: the very people who in the past had always been the losers. And who stood to lose the most?”He came to the conclusion that we Americans were led to believe that the “…tectonic shift in American society in the 1960, and 70s was not simply about rich versus poor. It was not about ‘class warfare,’ and it still isn’t.” He goes on to tell us that the biggest losers are the “..white males who dominated the home, professions, business, banking, unions , politics, sports, entertainment, higher education, radio and television—well, just about everything worth dominating.”
Magstadt brought his discussion home when he said that things in America are not “fair or equal or just, but much different from the society of the 1950s.” In effect, the changes that have occurred and are still occurring are the cause of the anger:
The angry white guys who dominate the Republican Party in Congress represent all the angry white men in America who cannot accept what they’ve lost forever—namely the exclusive right to take all the best jobs, run everything, make all the decisions, and oh yes, keep everybody who doesn’t look, act, and talk the way they do out of the good old boys club. Even Augusta National and the Masters have finally bowed to the inevitable.”
We can certainly agree with Magstadt’s assessment of why some European American males are angry, but not on his timeline. The realization of the loss of power was felt by the ruling European American male in America after the Revolutionary War by extending the vote to the un-propertied males. Since each state established it own voting requirements the laws were not uniform. The actual loss of domination by the European American males was not the same as the fear of loss. The fear became a concern right after the Civil War and the passage of the 13th and 14 Amendments. The fear of the loss of dominance showed itself during the Reconstruction period in America when many law were created by the states that served to re-enslave the African Americans; social conventions kept the women from enjoying many freedoms. Sharing the rights and liberties of America with all Americans was not the concept of freedom many European American males possessed.
The fear began to change into anger in 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Change had come to their European American male dominated society that took away their power to segregate in public schools. Naturally, efforts were made by the losers to regain control of their schools, but the law prevailed. The changes in American society that Magstadt makes reference to in the 1960, and 70s had a devastating affect on the European American male; his dominance was not only being challenged, but also the loss of it was being threatened.
One of the major changes that affect the European American male that Magstadt did not focus on had to do with Obama’s election to the Presidency. As long as the biased European American male did not have to acknowledge his loss of dominance, he could still, to a degree, save face. However, when Obama was elected president, this loss became a reality. If he accepted Obama as President, then he could no longer claim superiority by color. So, regardless of the excuses used to denigrate Obama, his administration, his policies, his character, his leadership, etc…all these antics and more are simply expressions of the anger and fear of the European American males represented by the rightwing Republican Party, Tea Party, conservatives and other biased groups lamenting their great loss and the fact that all their efforts to regain their dominance are forever gone.
If Magstadt had known about this blog, he could have arrived at the point he makes regarding the angry white guys a few years earlier, but, better late than never. Nevertheless, we appreciate his efforts.

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