I’ve read a bit over the years about left brain/ right brain, or lizard brain, flight or fight, the fear factor and such.
And I know from observation that people who are engulfed by fear tend to shut down the rational part of their brains.
It’s only natural – when you’re watching a predator coming to kill you, you don’t evaluate the larger moral implications of the act of killing – you either beat feet or turn and fight. And if running isn’t an option, you fight for your life with every ounce of strength and every strand of fiber. The trick, of course, is to accurately assess the existence of danger in the first place; and the appropriate reaction to the perceived danger so that it is in reasonable proportion to the threat.
Now, this instinctive reaction is apparently not limited to individual interactions, but to entire communities of people. People who do not know each other, but who share certain identifiable traits or fall within the category of prey, or endangered species.
Take the stereotypical white American male heterosexual, employed, 2.3 child having, stay at home (or wanna be stay at home) wife having; suburban living, Christian (with a capital “K”), gun-toting, nigra-hating (or any other brown, red or yellow un-American types); gay bashin’, patriotic, red-blooded Republican --- I’d say they most definitely qualify as an endangered species. Not far enough along the road to extinction for my tastes, but dwindling nonetheless.
If only from a demographic perspective, the white population as a whole is diminishing in numerical dominance in the U.S. But the Angry White Male Syndrome (AWMS) is less about the white male demographic for which it is named than it is about a mindset of entitlement based on unsustainable expectations founded upon fallacious historical accounts of the “Good Ol’ Days” that never were.
In the civil unrest of the ‘60s, the ‘50s were lauded as the Good Ol’ Days --- when children cut their hair and respected their elders. But the same was said in the ‘50s about the rebellious, Buddy Holly/ Elvis Presley – listening kids of that generation. And on and on it went back through time.
But while it can be said that each new generation has caused much hand wringing on the part of the older one – what had never changed, until now, is the foundation of white male privilege that underpinned it all.
So when today’s sufferers of AWMS (and they are legion) long plaintively for the Good Ol’ Days, what they really long for were the days when they could: (1) discriminate against, lynch, beat, rape or anything else you wanted to do to people of color; (2) keep women out of the well-paying jobs you wanted for yourselves; (3) control the reproductive rights of any woman under your thumb (which, since they were dependent on you economically, was pretty much all of them); (4) live near, work with or go to school with nobody but other white folk; (5) keep the queer boys in the closet for your own personal enjoyment but never for public display; (6) go off to war and kick anyone’s ass on the planet (OK, well, except for Vietnam, and by golly we’d have won that one too if we coulda dropped the bomb on those gooks); (7) not have to speak Spanish to navigate in certain parts of most major cities; and (8) most important of all --- maintain the purity of the white race by outlawing mixed marriages and requiring any mixed race bastards you happen to sire to take the racial classification of the mother --- unless of course, the mother’s white in which case she’s a slut or a rape victim and the kid’s either a mud person and/or an outcast but not a real by golly white American.
Now, the funny part that AWMS sufferers forget, or never knew, is that while all those benefits did accrue to white males, it was rich white males who were the benefactors. And that is no different now than it was then. The super rich (and their contemporary minions, Corporate America) have always crafted society to their liking, conferring benefits on whom they see fit.
Your average ordinary white male schmuck in the past was just as oppressed then as he is now. The difference is that the power elite have done a masterful job of convincing their victims that they are fellow perpetrators.
It’s always easier to oppress huge swaths of the population when you have buffers. The Confederates knew it, which was why light-skinned, mixed race slaves were afforded higher status than their darker brethren. The Romans knew it, which was why they promised Roman citizenship and equality under the law to Roman colonies. The French knew it, which is why they took a page from the Romans’ book, and dangled French citizenship before its African colonies – a tactic I’m sure they regret right around now and in fact are trying to repeal.
So all that has really happened is that the buffer has been realigned --- it doesn’t matter so much to the power elite if a few women, a couple of Blacks, or a handful of openly gay people reap the benefits of honorary white guy status.
As long as there is a massive underclass – and it hardly matters who they are – to support those at the top of the heap, that’s what’s truly significant.
In the meantime, though, before AWMS sufferers are completely engulfed by the demographic shift that is underway, you’ve gotta whole lotta angry, entitled, fearful and dangerous individuals running amok.
Rather than placing the proverbial toe in the ever-changing sea of humanity and testing the waters, AWMS sufferers are clinging even more fiercely to the last buoy on the Titanic.
They are letting their intense fear of annihilation hasten their demise. They are alienating everyone around who does not share their view of the proper world order or their lies about the blissful past. They are hated abroad and at home. Magnifying their repugnant tendency to swagger through life bullying those not in the club, instead of adjusting to their new environment; we’re likely to see some ugly thrashing about for the next several years.
The meteoric rise of the Religious Right (and the AltRight for that matter) is a manifestation of AWMS. Substituting “Christian values” for “family values” AWMS sufferers seek to define a society in which the hypocritical mores of the past rule.
To them (and to an unfortunate number of non-AWMS sufferers who have been duped into believing their linguistic legerdemain) having “family values” means being anti-choice (as if abortion was created in the last 30 years), having non-working white mothers (I say white, since every Missy Anne needs a Kizzie to do the real housework), limiting non-whites to menial jobs only; practicing hatred of all peoples not white or Christian or heterosexual, having guaranteed employment through retirement (like that’s ever gonna happen again), and having all the luxuries of life affordable to a high school educated blue collared white guy (yeah, right). Those are the tenets of their faith --- and they match almost identically the previously described traits of an AWMS sufferer. Imagine that.
And “new” groups like the Soldiers of Odin, or the Proud Boys or some of the AltRight followers who have just repackaged the credos of the Klan without using the "n" word all well and truly come within the umbrella organization of AWMS.
So when it seems like we are becoming more war-like, when tolerance and cooperation are the only hope for a species as bent on destruction as ours --- blame it on AWMS.
When it feels like criminalization of the poor runs rampant despite all we know about the nexus between poverty and crime --- blame it on AWMS.
When you can hear our planet groaning under the weight of our toxic waste and our noxious emissions, killing scores of species every day --- blame it on AWMS.
When race hatred and divisiveness is moving closer, not farther away from a Jim Crow society--- blame it on AWMS.
When our bellowing braggadocio throughout the world is equaled only by our ignorance of any culture other than our own --- blame it on AWMS.
And when it becomes clear that what we are seeing are the death throes of a largely imagined way of life --- pray to the Goddess that this planet can survive the sickness.