Have you ever watched reality TV shows such as Hoarders? A disgusting but all-too-common urge to both glamorize and demonize, all in the name of entertainment and celebrity?
Have you ever wondered why pop culture often turns our gaze on these people (or any group deemed profitable fodder for such filth)—and thus, turning our gaze away from other groups?
This didn’t take much effort, but let me try my hand at a similar technique, although I am merely working here in words. Consider the following:
- How Kurt Vonnegut Found His Voice and His Themes
- The New York Times Profile on White House Policy Adviser Stephen Miller Confirms That He’s Been an Asshole His Whole Life
- Is Blade Runner 2049 sexist – or a fair depiction of a dystopian future?
- In Jerry’s world, Greg Hardy is OK, but silent protest is not
- Let’s free education from the hands of the stale, pale male
- The Invention of Christopher Columbus, American Hero
- Feminism, Not Hugh Hefner, Liberated Sex
- How the Academic Elite Reproduces Itself
- Will Harvey Weinstein’s downfall change Hollywood’s culture of silence around sexual abuse?
- Stank 2.0 and the Counter-Poetics of Black Language in College Classrooms
- Police: Las Vegas gunman shot security guard six minutes before massacre
- Tragedy Mistaken for Management Theory: On Kazuo Ishiguro and the Nobel Prize in Literature
- Mike Ditka on NFL protests: “No oppression in the last 100 years that I know of”
Feel free to let me do the heavy lifting here, but also, I invite you to wade into the above for yourself: The thread running through these pieces gathered quickly and easily the day after Columbus Day is the violent, rapacious white man who hoards money and power at the expense of and on the backs of others and then uses that money and power too often to abuse and even kill those deemed weaker or lesser than these white men.
That we have failed to address the white man disease in humanity is not some great accident, however. Once with power, white men have carefully orchestrated how we view the world through keeping our gaze elsewhere, such as our manufactured fear of Muslim terrorists and centuries-long narratives of violent black men.
This slight of hand has mesmerized us into worshipping these horrible, often soulless men—Hugh Hefner, Christopher Columbus, Donald Trump—because of their bravado, wealth, and power.
White men, often themselves mediocre, have parleyed their amassed wealth (typically begun in eras characterized by the very worst of human nature) into assuring that the general public has developed a skewed system for evaluating self-worth: white men are forgiven any and every flaw because “he built this,” but everyone else cannot survive even one flaw, unless s/he is conveniently associated with the right white man.
The power of the arrogant white man is so intense, so capable of charming a people, that in the U.S. many excuse Trump minute by minute for the deplorable human he proves himself to be while following his Pied Piper lead to demonize Colin Kaepernick.
And while the rise of Trump is one of the most disgusting and oft-repeated narratives of U.S. history, it is a slow-boil story, and we are the willing lobsters who gleefully offer ourselves up for the pot.
More catastrophic—and all the more hard to understand as worthy of our disregard—is Stephen Paddock, murderous white man who is the most recent recipient of the inordinate passes white men receive: media headlines never offering his race and refusing to call him “terrorist,” family and friends shocked and confirming he was just your Average Joe, and the ultimate tone-deaf claim that there was simply nothing to tip us off about his reign of horror (because a certain kind of white man can walk through this world without any sort of scrutiny, even as he amasses an arsenal—or systematically sexually abuses women).
So let’s turn here to thinking carefully about this world built by white men—because the architects have insured this world protects them and as a consequence it works against everyone else.
While these rapacious white men use “I built this” as their shield, we must recognize it as supreme distraction; they are hiding something very insidious behind that shield, in fact: their mediocrity, their soullessness, their monstrosity.
As a white man, I speak from experience; the shield is powerful, more powerful than we tend to admit.
But also as a white man who believes to my marrow in a better world where equity and justice are achieved for every human, I am left with a disturbing quandary.
I have a fantasy that one day every worker in the service industry simply refuses to work; this act of resistance would highlight the inherent scam that is capitalism (the white man’s paradise), the false narrative that the owners and bosses are worth more than the workers.
That fantasy has a new version—one in which every black athlete in the NFL takes a knee and refuses to play a down of any NFL game so that the league and our so-called political leaders are forced to eat their words, called on their bluffs as the blow-hard balloons they are.
But these fantasies are the musings of a white man who recognizes that it is not the responsibility of the oppressed to end such inequities. yet, this system built by white men is a trap: workers are enslaved by hourly wages and tethered to work-bound insurance and retirement so that those workers have no real humanity left, no option to assert their dignity, their voices.
It’s the propaganda that irks [James Baldwin] most, the betrayal of the imagination. Baldwin has predictable issues with John Wayne, but the squeaky-clean Gary Cooper puts the most deceptive face on the killing of Indians. If you’re black, Baldwin says, you identify with Coop until you realize that the Indians are you, and that Coop, and Wayne, is a symptom of a culture that won’t “grow up” and face a history that has “no moral justification.” It’s “the lie of pretended humanism.” It’s Coop and it’s — wait for it — Doris Day.
Like Baldwin, we need this moment of recognition—that we have been duped, conned, hypnotized.
It no easy thing to admit that we are patsies, but we are being used.
Now, there is no question about white men being outnumbered, but there remains a question about whether or not everyone else is really any better than these mediocre white men ruling us.
That question terrifies me nearly as much as all the Trump-hoarders ruling this world.