Kevin Horrigan: End of the line for white guys
12/05/2012 5:59 PM
12/05/2012 5:59 PM
They say confession is good for the soul, so here it is: I am a white male.
Ever since the election, all I’ve heard is that our day is done. It’s all our fault. My kind drove America – in fact, the whole world plus the moon, too, because 12 of us landed there – to perdition. The election was our comeuppance. I read it in the New York Times:
“Mitt Romney is the president of white male America,” wrote Maureen Dowd.
“Maybe the group can retreat to a man cave in a Whiter House, with mahogany paneling, brown leather Chesterfields, a moose head over the fireplace.… In its delusional death spiral, the white male patriarchy was so hard core, so redolent of country clubs and Cadillacs, it made little effort not to alienate women.”
Nearly 43 million of my kind voted in the Nov. 6 presidential election. Sixty-two percent of us voted for Mitt Romney, 35 percent of us voted for Barack Obama. That’s something like 15 million white male Obama voters in an election where the popular vote margin was 3 million.
Doesn’t matter. White males invented the concept of collective guilt, so it’s on us.
From what I read, we’re all the same, we’re all guilty, all part of that hard-core white patriarchy, sitting here in the country club man cave on our brown leather Chesterfields (apparently a fancy kind of couch), staring at the moose head over the fireplace.
We’re all pigs. We all kept our women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. We were Ward Cleaver, keeping June at home when she could have been a brain surgeon, expecting her not only to make dinner but lunch, too, passing our 1950s porcine values on to Wally and the Beav.
I read this, by American University professor Clarence Lusane, a black guy, two days after the election in the Huffington Post:
“It is no accident that the GOP selected a candidate who has an uncanny resemblance to Ward Cleaver.”
The Ward Cleaver conspiracy. We were all in on it.
We white guys haven’t been particularly lucky in our spokesmen. If it’s not some semiliterate neo-Nazi proclaiming Aryan pride, it’s blowhard talk-show hosts. All of us white guys love Fox News and talk radio. And then this guy, Paul Kengor, writing in the highly conservative magazine the American Spectator:
“It was white males who built the Democratic Party, and built America, and stormed the beaches of Normandy, and defeated Hitler, and much more. I’m a white male. Many of us are actually decent people. My Christian white-male ancestors fought for the north in the Civil War and freed black Americans from slavery … why make fun of us? Why are so many liberals seemingly so contemptuous of white males? Why do they hate us?”
True, Franklin Roosevelt was a white guy and he built the modern Democratic Party, along with Sam Rayburn and Richard Russell and Southern Democrats bent on keeping black folks out of restaurants. Lyndon Johnson started turning that around, but we bailed on him for Dick Nixon and Ronald Reagan and the Republicans in the days when we were 89 percent of the electorate.
Reagan. Now that was a white guy’s white guy.
And true, we stormed the beaches of Normandy to defeat Hitler, but Hitler, too, was a white guy, albeit an Austrian white guy. And the white guys who fought for the North in the Civil War were fighting white guys from the South, so that’s pretty much a wash.
Still, now that it’s over, it must be said we had a hell of a run. Invented the telegraph, telephone, television, personal computer, iPhone. Automobiles. Baseball, football, basketball, NASCAR, the polio vaccine. Won a lot of Nobel Prizes, wrote some pretty good books.
Of course, people who weren’t male or white could have invented all of these things if we hadn’t been holding them down. We know that now.
We saved civilization several times, though it’s true we mostly saved it from other white guys. We were pretty darned warlike, though the history of warfare suggests this is a male thing, not necessarily a white male thing.
I don’t mean to make excuses, but testosterone is a powerful force. Makes you grow all big and strong and surly. The next thing you know, wham! You’re invading Poland or playing in the NFL or writing 30,000 e-mails to an “honorary consul” who happens to look like a Kardashian sister.
Because there were more of us than everyone else, we thought we could kick everyone else around forever. Our bad.
Now, here we are in our country club death spiral, flopped across the leather sofas in our Ward Cleaver-model cardigans, staring up at the moose head, wondering how we managed to blow it.
As George Clooney, who is one of us but who, I am pretty sure, did not vote for Mitt Romney, said in “Up in the Air”: “I’m like my mother. I stereotype. It’s faster.”