Newsweek’s iteration of this Persecuted White Guy story, which claims that the economy is now rigged to make sure white males “don’t have a freakin’ prayer,” follows USA Today’s implication that “older white males [are] hurt more by this recession” than anyone else, and New York Times columnist Ross Douthat’s (subsequently discredited) argument that “white anxiety” is justified because white working-class students are supposedly among “the most underrepresented groups” at elite universities.
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In each version of the legend, the characters and specific events change — sometimes the stars are beefy white guys watching factories leave “real America” for Mexico, other times it’s celebrated “Office Park Dads” in coastal enclaves seeing their jobs offshored to China. Either way, the establishment media’s official story never seems to deviate from the tale of D-FENS in the 1993 film “Falling Down”: Virtuous, patriotic white males are under more intense assault than any other group.
To be sure, many individual white males have been hurt by past recessions, and many more have been hit hard by this one, too. But the obsessive and disproportionate focus on the plight of this particular demographic actually contradicts the underlying theory of white victimhood. Far from being “forgotten,” persecuted or “without a freakin’ prayer,” white men still very much retain their cherished privilege, so much so that their problems are presented by the media as the most pressing national emergency — even when, on the whole, white men still occupy a comparatively enviable position in our economy.
I found this article by David Frum fascinating. It’s about how and why he has begun to move away from his original libertarian views. I’m fascinated by this because it’s so rare to see a political type openly (and apparently genuinely) discussing how their views changed. (It’s quite common for positions to change– but usually the people in question try to pretend it didn’t happen.) For me, it’s important to read this as an optimistic reminder that– despite appearances– people’s views aren’t forever fixed: there is some hope of changing the minds of those (we take take to be) wrong. It’s also, to be honest, a salutary reminder that our political opponents are (at least sometimes) people who think, and who care, and who revise their views in light of these things. It’s far too easy to forget that at times.