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“[W]e can’t come off as a bunch of angry white men.”

Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party

O ne of the enduring legacies of the 2012 presidential campaign was the demise of the white American male voter as a dominant force in the political landscape. On election night, after Obama was announced the

winner, a distressed Bill O’Reilly lamented that he didn’t live in

“a traditional America anymore.” He was joined by others who

bellowed their grief on the talk radio airwaves, the traditional

redoubt of angry white men. Why were they so angry? Sociologist

Michael Kimmel, one of the leading writers on men and

masculinity in the world today, has spent hundreds of hours in

the company of America’s angry white men—from men’s rights

activists to young students to white supremacists—in pursuit of

an answer. Angry White Men presents a comprehensive diagnosis

of their fears, anxieties, and rage.

Kimmel locates this increase in anger in the seismic

economic, social, and political shifts that have so transformed

the American landscape. Downward mobility, increased racial

and gender equality, and a tenacious clinging to an anachronistic

ideology of masculinity has left many men feeling betrayed and

bewildered. Raised to expect unparalleled social and economic

privilege, white men are suffering today from what Kimmel calls

“aggrieved entitlement”: a sense that those benefi ts that white

men believed were their due have been snatched away from them.

Angry White Men discusses, among others, the sons of small

town America, scarred by underemployment and wage stagnation.

When America’s white men feel they’ve lived their lives the “right”

way—worked hard and stayed out of trouble—and still do not get

economic rewards, then they have to blame somebody else. Even

more terrifying is the phenomenon of angry young boys. School

shootings in the United States are not just the work of “misguided

youth” or “troubled teens”—they’re all committed by boys. These

alienated young men are transformed into mass murderers by a

sense that using violence against others is their right.

(continued on back fl ap)

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© M

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MICHAEL KIMMEL is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook

University in New York. An author or editor of more than twenty

books, including Manhood in America, The Gendered Society,

The History of Men, and Guyland, he lives with his family in

Brooklyn, New York.

The future of America is more inclusive and diverse. The

choice for angry white men is not whether or not they can stem

the tide of history: they cannot. Their choice is whether or not

they will be dragged kicking and screaming into that inevitable

future, or whether they will walk honorably alongside those

they’ve spent so long trying to exclude. By explaining their rage,

Kimmel is able to point to a possible future that is healthier,

happier, and much less angry.

“Being white and male has brought unfair power for so long that some think it’s natural, both among those

claiming it and those suffering from it. Michael Kimmel has done us the life-saving favor of naming this delusion

that may endanger us more than any other. From executives for whom no amount of money is enough to white

supremacists for whom no amount of power is enough, from U.S. wars in which men die to U.S. domestic violence

in which even more women die, this illness is lethal for us all. Angry White Men is a brave, sane, compassionate,

and rescuing book.” —G L O R I A S T E I N E M , feminist activist and author

“White men still have most of the power and most of the money, so why do so many of them feel so victimized?

In this fascinating guided tour of the world of angry white men—Glenn Beck fans, white supremacists, school

shooters, men’s rights activists—pioneer sociologist of masculinity Michael Kimmel shows how ‘aggrieved

entitlement’ leads them to blame people of color, immigrants, liberals, intellectuals, the government, and above

all, women, for a society that is changing fast and, they fear, leaving them behind. No dry academic study, Angry

White Men is full of shrewd political analysis, empathy, and humor.” —K A T H A P O L L I T T , columnist for The Nation

“Michael Kimmel has written a comprehensive study of working and middle-class white men and described

their collective grievances with insight and compassion. In regard to those among them who ally with the far

right, he is equally insightful but justifi ably more critical; his analysis of their misdirected rage at minorities

and women is entirely persuasive. I enthusiastically recommend Angry White Men to the wide readership it has

amply earned.” —M A R T I N D U B E R M A N , professor of history emeritus at the Graduate School of the

City University of New York

“Men and women should read Angry White Men. Women will gain insights into the sources of male anger

and men will learn that increasing gender equality does not pose a threat to their masculinity. Rather, in this

rapidly changing society, Kimmel believes that women and men will be able to lead more satisfying lives.”

—M A D E L E I N E K U N I N , former governor of Vermont, author of The New Feminist Agenda: Defi ning the Next

Revolution for Women, Work, and Family and Pearls, Politics, and Power: How Women Can Win and Lead

“In this timely book, Kimmel shows us that in these times, even those who have historically been powerful and

dominant are becoming victims as they fi nd themselves slipping between the cracks and falling behind. Kimmel

has his fi nger on the pulse of their anger and by revealing their fears and growing desperation, he reminds us

that their problems are ours as well.” —P E D R O N O G U E R A , Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education

at New York University


8/12 8/14



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Also by Michael Kimmel

The Guy’s Guide to Feminism (with Michael Kaufman)

Misframing Men: The Politics of Contemporary Masculinities

Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men

The History of Masculinity: Essays

The Gender of Desire: Essays on Masculinity and Sexuality

The Gendered Society

Manhood in America: A Cultural History

The Politics of Manhood

Against the Tide: Pro-Feminist Men in the U.S., 1776–1990

Men Confront Pornography

Men’s Lives (with Michael Messner)

Changing Men: New Directions in the Study of Men and Masculinity

Absolutism and Its Discontents: State and Society in 17th Century France and England

Revolution: A Sociological Interpretation

9781568586960-text.indd ii9781568586960-text.indd ii 8/16/13 12:30 PM8/16/13 12:30 PM




Michael Kimmel

New York

9781568586960-text.indd iii9781568586960-text.indd iii 8/16/13 12:30 PM8/16/13 12:30 PM

Copyright © 2013 by Michael Kimmel

Published by

Nation Books, A Member of the Perseus Books Group

116 East 16th Street, 8th Floor

New York, NY 10003

Nation Books is a co-publishing venture of

the Nation Institute and the Perseus Books Group.

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of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without

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critical articles and reviews. For information, address the Perseus Books

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Books published by Nation Books are available at special discounts for

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other organizations. For more information, please contact the Special

Markets Department at the Perseus Books Group, 2300 Chestnut Street,

Suite 200, Philadelphia, PA 19103, or call (800) 255-1514, or e-mail

Designed by Pauline Brown

Typeset in 11 point ITC Giovanni Std

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Kimmel, Michael S.

Angry white men : American masculinity at the end of an era /

by Michael Kimmel.

pages cm

Includes bibliographical references and index.

ISBN 978-1-56858-696-0 (hardback) — ISBN 978-1-56858-964-0

(e-book) 1. Men—United States—Attitudes. 2. Whites—

United States — Attitudes. 3. Masculinity—United

States. 4. Equality—United States. 5. Civil rights—United

States. I. Title.

HQ1090.3.K55175 2013



10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

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For Amy and Zachary,


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Preface: American Masculinity at the End of an Era ix

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction: America, the Angry 1

1 Manufacturing Rage: The Cultural Construction of Aggrieved Entitlement 31

2 Angry White Boys 69

3 White Men as Victims: The Men’s Rights Movement 99

4 Angry White Dads 135

5 Targeting Women 169

6 Mad Men: The Rage(s) of the American Working Man 199

7 The White Wing 227

Epilogue 279

Notes 287 Index 301

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American Masculinity at the End of an Era

That bawl for freedom in their senseless mood,

And still revolt when truth would set them free.

License they mean when they cry liberty . . .


Whenever people have asked me about the subject of my new book, I’ve barely managed to tell them the three words of the title before they’ve regaled me with stories of blind rage being directed at them, daily incivility witnessed or experienced, outrage they’ve felt, heard, or expressed. I’ve heard so many recountings of the shouting across the aisles of Congress, the TV talking heads, or the radio rag- ers. They’ve talked of being enraged at demonstrations, confronted by equally enraged counterdemonstrators. I’ve heard of people behaving murderously on freeways, of my friends being frightened to sit in the stands at their children’s hockey games or on the sidelines of their soc- cer matches. And nearly everyone has complained about Internet trolls who lurk on news websites and blogs ready to pounce viciously on anyone with whom they might disagree.

And they’ve told me that they’ve found themselves angrier than they’d been. Some were concerned that they’re far angrier than they

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x Preface

remember their parents being. Others have tried to maintain a bound- ary between political anger and raging against their families, though even there the boundary seems, to some, elusive. “The national blood pressure is elevated,” said my friend Dan, a doctor given toward phys- iological metaphors. “It’s at a frighteningly high level. Cultural beta blockers are in order.”

This rise in American anger has been widely—and angrily!—noticed. Pundits lay the blame on greedy corporations, gridlocked legislatures, cruel and angry local and state governments, demographic shifts that infuriate the native born, and special interest groups promoting their special interest agendas. Mostly, they blame “them”—some group, organization, or institution that has acted so egregiously that outrage feels justified, righteous. The groups or individuals change; the scape- goating has become a national pastime.

And I admit, I’ve been angry too. I’m outraged by the arrogant religious sanctimoniousness of churches shielding pedophiles. I get impatient waiting on the telephone talking to yet another “menu of options,” righteously indignant when crazed drivers swerve across three lanes of traffic to gain one car length, and aggravated by political gridlock and smarmy politicians. I’m easily ired when receptionists in offices or hosts in restaurants sigh loudly at my innocent request that they actually do their jobs and call the person I’m meeting or find me a table at which to eat. I’m generally not a grumpy person, but some- times it feels that every other person is either smug, arrogant, infuri- ating, incompetent, or politically inane—sometimes all of the above.

Often I get angry about politics. How can I not? I’m incensed by intransigent, obstructionist Republicans in Congress who won’t admit the mandate that the president received in his trouncing of Mitt Rom- ney and irritated by a feckless and spineless Democratic majority that can’t seem to seize that mandate. I fume about the inordinate influ- ence a bunch of highly organized gun advocates have over public pol- icy, even when popular opinion swings the other way.

There are other emotions besides anger, of course: anguish when I read of young black boys shot by the police; heartsick for gays and les- bians still targeted for violence by hateful neighbors for loving whom they love; torn apart at stories of women raped, beaten, and murdered, often by the very men who say they love them; horrified when people

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Preface xi

are blown up simply for running in a race or children are massacred simply for being at school.

On the other hand, I’m also aware that despite all, it’s probably never been better to be a person of color, a woman, or LGBT in the United States. Yes, old habits die hard, and assumptions may die harder. But it’s a pretty easy case to make that whether by race, gen- der, or sexuality, America has never been more equal. (Class is another story—and one I will tell in this book.) So I’m also thrilled that I’ve lived long enough to see a black man in the White House, women heading national governments and major corporations, lesbians and gay men proclaiming their love for the world to see.

Let me be clear: I am in no way saying we have “arrived” at some postracial, postfeminist, post–civil rights utopia; and even less am I saying that some switch has been thrown and now men or white people or straight people are the new victims of some topsy-turvy “agenda.” I’m simply saying that women are safer today than they have ever been in our society, that LGBT are more accepted and freer to love whom they love, and that racial and ethnic minorities confront fewer obstacles in their efforts to fully integrate into American society.

To be sure, I’m temperamentally an optimist. As both an academic and an activist, I often think of optimism as part of my job descrip- tion. As an activist, I believe that through constant struggle, our society can, and will, be shaped into a society that better lives up to its prom- ise of liberty and justice for all. And as an academic, I believe that if I can inspire my students to engage more critically with their world, and help them develop the tools with which they can do that, their lives, however they choose to live them, and with whatever political and ethical orientations they may have, will be better as a result.

Surely, the arc of history points toward greater equality. Slowly, yes, and fitfully. But definitely.

And that comment leads me to a discussion not of the book’s title, but of the book’s subtitle. If this is a book that is about American mas- culinity “at the end of an era,” what era, exactly, is it that is ending? And why is it ending? And is ending a good thing or a bad thing?

In a sense, these latter questions are too late. I am not chronicling a change that is coming. I’m describing a change that has, in most re- spects, already happened. It’s a done deal. The era of unquestioned

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xii Preface

and unchallenged male entitlement is over. This is a book about those men who either don’t yet know it or sense the change in the wind and are determined to stem the tide.

The end of that era leaves those of us who have benefited from the dramatic social inequality that has characterized American society for so many years—we straight white men—with a choice to make. We know what the future will look like twenty years from now: same- sex marriage will be a national policy (and neither heterosexual mar- riage nor the traditional nuclear family will have evaporated), at least one-quarter of all corporate board members will be women, universi- ties and even the military will have figured out how to adjudicate sex- ual assault, formerly illegal immigrants will have a path to citizenship, and all racial and ethnic minorities (except perhaps Muslims, who will still, sadly, be subject to vitriolic hatred) will be more fully integrated.

So our choice is simple: we can either be dragged kicking and screaming into that future of greater equality and therefore greater freedom for all, or go with the tide, finding out, along the way, that the future is actually brighter for us as well. (Data here are plentiful that the greater the level of gender equality in a society—whether in a relationship or marriage—the lower the rates of depression and the higher the rates of happiness.)

This is a book about those men who refuse to even be dragged kicking and screaming into that inevitable future. They are white men who aren’t at all happy about the way the tides have turned. They see a small set of swells as one gigantic tsunami about to wash over them.

It’s about how feeling entitled by race or gender distorts one’s vision. Racial and gender entitlement knows no class system: working-class

white men may experience that sense of entitlement differently from upper-class white men, but there are also many commonalities, many points of contact. White men of all classes benefit from a system based on racial and gender inequality. Whether we are working-class plumbers or corporate financiers, we’re raised to expect the world to be fair— that hard honest work and discipline will bring about prosperity and stability. It’s hard for us to realize that we’ve actually been benefiting from dramatic inequality.

Think of it as if you were running in a race. You’d expect that every- one plays by the same rules—start at the starting line, and run as best you can, and that the fastest runners win the race. You’d bristle if some

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Preface xiii

groups had a different starting point, were allowed to enter where they pleased, or were allowed to tie others’ feet together—or if some people ran in one direction with the wind at their backs, while the rest of us had to run into a strong headwind.

It may be hard for white men to realize that, irrespective of other factors, we have been running with the wind at our backs all these years and that what we think of as “fairness” to us has been built on the backs of others, who don’t harbor such illusions as “meritocracy” and “fairness,” who have known since birth that the system is stacked against them. The level playing field has been anything but level—and we’ve been the ones running downhill, with the wind, in both directions.

Efforts to level the playing field may feel like water is rushing up- hill, like it’s reverse discrimination against us. Meritocracy sucks when you are suddenly one of the losers and not one of the winners. In fact, it doesn’t feel like a meritocracy at all.

We didn’t just inherit privilege as an unexamined birthright. It’s less about the “having” and more about a posture, a relationship to it. Even if we didn’t think of ourselves as privileged, we thought of ourselves as entitled to privilege, entitled to occupy the leadership positions.

Just because those in power are straight and white and male doesn’t mean that every straight white man feels powerful. That’s a logical fal- lacy as well as politically inaccurate. (The compositional fallacy holds that if all As are Bs, it is not necessarily the case that all Bs are As. The classic example: all members of the Mafia are Italian; all Italians are not members of the Mafia.) But just because straight white men don’t feel powerful doesn’t make it any less true that compared to other groups, they benefit from inequality and are, indeed, privileged.

That is the era that is coming to an end, the “end of an era” to which the subtitle of this book refers. It’s not the end of the era of “men”—as in the misframed debate recently over “the end of men.” It’s the end of the era of men’s entitlement, the era in which a young man could assume, without question, it was not only “a man’s world” but a straight white man’s world. It is less of a man’s world, today, that’s true—white men have to share some space with others. But it is no longer a world of unquestioned male privilege. Men may still be “in power,” and many men may not feel powerful, but it is the sense of entitlement—that sense that although I may not be in power at the moment, I deserve to be, and if I’m not, something is definitely

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xiv Preface

wrong—that is coming to an end. It is a world of diminished expecta- tions for all white men, who have benefited from an unequal system for so long.

There are still many in this generation of men who feel cheated by the end of entitlement. They still feel entitled, and thus they iden- tify socially and politically with those above them, even as they have economically joined the ranks of those who have historically been below them.

This is a book about those angry white men, men who experience a sense of what I here call “aggrieved entitlement”—that sense of en- titlement that can no longer be assumed and that is unlikely to be fulfilled. It’s about rear guard actions, of bitterness and rage, about fin- gers shoved in the crumbling dikes, trying, futilely, to hold back the surging tide of greater equality and greater justice.

But if this is the end of one era, the era of men’s sense of unques- tioned entitlement, it is the beginning of another, the beginning of the end of patriarchy, the unquestioned assumption men have felt to access, to positions of power, to corner offices, to women’s bodies, that casual assumption that all positions of power, wealth, and influence are reserved for us and that women’s presence is to be resisted if possi- ble, and tolerated if not.

There is a way out for white men, I believe, a way for us to turn down the volume, redirect our anger at more appropriate targets, and find our way to happier and healthier lives. The data are persuasive that most American men have quietly, and without much ideological fanfare, accommodated themselves to greater gender equality in both their personal and their workplace relationships than any generation before them. And those who have done so are actually happier about it—happier about their lives as fathers, partners, and friends. It turns out that gender and racial equality is not only good for people of color and women, but also good for white people and men—and, most of all, for our children.

Perhaps that’s what the Greenwich Village writer Floyd Dell was thinking as he sat at his desk on the eve of one of the great woman suffrage demonstrations in New York City in 1916. A well-known bo- hemian writer, Dell was also one of the founders of the Men’s League for Woman Suffrage, who marched with women in support of their right to vote. In an article published in the Masses, called “Feminism

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Preface xv

for Men,” he came up with a line that I think captures my argument. “Feminism will, for the first time, allow men to be free.”

Perhaps today we might qualify it a bit and say “freer”—but we’d also add happier, healthier, and a lot less angry.

Brooklyn, New York May 2013

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This book, like all my work, is part of a conversation, among col-leagues, friends, allies, and adversaries who have pushed me to clarify, change, refine, and abandon my arguments. I’m happy to ac- knowledge them here, sure that they’ll know where they fall on the adversary-to-ally continuum: Harry Brod, Richard Collier, Martin Du- berman, Warren Farrell, Debra Gimlin, Donald Huber, Jackson Katz, Mike Messner, Rob Okun, and Sophie Spieler. And I’m grateful to Lil- lian Rubin and Michael Kaufman for arguing with me about every- thing, reading every word, keeping me honest, and pushing me beyond where I often felt like going. None of them will agree with everything I’ve written, but I hope each feels I made my case honestly and honorably.

My agent, Gail Ross, and my editor at Nation Books, Ruth Bald- win, have been amazing to work with, offering just the right amount of support and criticism, knowing when to push and when to back off.

I’m also grateful to Bethany Coston, Randi Fishman, Charles Knight, and Grace Mattingly for their support of the research.

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xviii Acknowledgments

I’m grateful always to my family and friends, who never seem to tire of conversations about neo-Nazis, rampage school shootings, Rush Limbaugh, or antifeminist men’s rights guys. (If they do tire, then I thank them for faking it so well.) Mitchell and Pam, Shanny and Cliff, Marty and Eli, Mary and Larry, thank you for so many years.

What enables me to delve into topics that make me so angry, sad, and frustrated is how stable and grounded I feel in my private life. I often feel like I’m in the center of one of those busy street scenes in a digitized movie, where I move slowly and deliberately while the rest of the world rushes by frantically in a sped-up time-lapse framing. Amy and Zachary anchor me, give me a place to stand, and thus a place from which to move. I could not be more grateful, nor love them any more. This is for them.

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Introduction America, the Angry

What happened to the country that loved the

underdog and stood up for the little guy? What

happened to the voice of the forgotten man? The

forgotten man is you.




“What’s a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn doing in a place like this?” I ask myself as I slide into my booth at the roadside diner. I’m right off Interstate 81, near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, along the southern tier of that state’s border with Maryland, near the actual Mason-Dixon line. I’m here to meet “Rick,” a thirty-two-year-old father of three from Shippensburg. I had met him yesterday, and I invited him to meet me for breakfast at the diner so I could interview him.

I had driven to Shippensburg to attend a gun show that was held, as many are these days, in the gymnasium of the local high school. (The schools rent out their facilities to local merchants to raise extra funds.) At the entrance to the show, a long table was filled with literature— some advertising circulars for gun merchants and army/navy supply stores, a couple of catalogs of survivalist gear, and some pamphlets from Patriot groups, some anti-immigrant organizations, and even a

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single photocopied informational sheet from David Duke and “to- day’s Ku Klux Klan” (KKK). “How the government is taking away your rights!” announces one pamphlet.

Rick was standing behind the table, talking with a few other guys. “Is this your stuff?” I asked, picking up the leaflet. The guys turned and looked at me. No one looked especially hostile, though they certainly didn’t look friendly, either. More like “Do I know you?” Like “You’re not from around here, are you?”

“I’m a writer, and I’m on a research trip, and wanted to talk to you.” They eye me suspiciously. I am not very tall, obviously “ethnic,”

older, balding, and wearing a button-down shirt. “What are you writ- ing about?” “Who the fuck are you?” “You Jewish?” “How’d you hear about this?”

“Wait,” I said. “I’ll answer your questions. Yes, I’m Jewish. I’m a sociology professor from New York. I am writing a book about what is happening to white guys like you in our country. I’m really concerned about it.”

“You’re concerned about it!” snorts one guy. “We’re livin’ it. We’re concerned about it.”

“I hear you, really. I’m trying to figure it out. With all the economic changes in our country, and the social changes, I want to understand what’s happening to guys like you. Guys like Joe the Plumber,” I say citing a name that’s now familiar to every American since the 2008 election. (Chambersburg is along that long industrial corridor from Chicago to Harrisburg that flows through Gary, Toledo, Akron, Cleve- land, Pittsburgh—and Holland, Ohio, where Joe Wurzelbacher is ac- tually from.)

“Ha!” one guys laughs. “You just try getting a job as a plumber around here these days! There are no fuckin’ jobs at all, ’cept for Walmart hostess.”

“That’s what I’m trying to understand,” I say. “I want to know how America’s changed and what direction we’re going in.”

“Oh, I’ll tell you,” says the guy I eventually come to know as Rick. “We’re going down the fucking toilet, that’s what. I mean, just look around. There’s illegals everywhere. There’s Wall Street screwing every- body. And now there’s a goddamn . . . ” He pauses anxiously, a grimace on his face. Another second goes by; he’s obviously sizing me up. “Oh, fuck it, I don’t care if it is politically incorrect. We got a fucking nigger

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in the White House. We’re all screwed. Nobody gives a shit about us guys anymore. It’s all over.”

“That’s what I want to write about!” I say. “I’ll listen to you. Seri- ously. I won’t agree with you, but hey, that’s not my job. I’m not here to convince you of some blue-state liberal agenda. My job is to under- stand how you see all this. I promise that I will listen to you. Would you be willing to talk to me?” I say, directly, to Rick.

His pals now look at him. “Yeah, Rick, you go talk to this guy.” “Yeah, I sure as shit don’t want to talk to no Jew.” “Yeah, Rick, go ahead, make his day.”

Rick, now seemingly put up to it by his pals, agrees to meet me the next morning for breakfast.

He arrives on time. (I’ve arrived a half hour early and parked my car a few blocks away.) He slides into the booth across from me. He wears a weathered Pittsburgh Pirates hat, a flannel shirt, open to ex- pose a Confederate flag T-shirt—“I wore this special for you,” he says, laughing at his own joke—jeans, and work boots. He has not shaved. Actually, neither have I.

He orders his breakfast; his coffee arrives. Milk, two, no, three, sug- ars. I take out my tiny portable tape recorder.

“Oh, shit,” he says. “Are you a fed? I can’t talk to you.” “No, no, not at all,” I say. I take out my wallet, show him my uni-

versity ID card. I put away the tape recorder. We begin to talk.


Rick is one of the men you will meet in this book, men who feel they have been screwed, betrayed by the country they love, discarded like trash on the side of the information superhighway. Theirs are the hands that built this country; theirs is the blood shed to defend it. And now, they feel, no one listens to them; they’ve been all but forgotten. In the great new multicultural American mosaic, they’re the bland white background that no one pays any attention to, the store-bought white bread in a culture of bagels, tortillas, wontons, and organic whole-grain designer scones. They’re downwardly mobile, contemptu- ously pushed aside by fast-talking, fast-driving fat cats and bureaucrats. And they’re mad as hell.

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You see them pretty much everywhere these days—yet they’re of- ten invisible. They patrol America’s southern border, determined to keep out Mexican immigrants. They tune in to venomous talk-radio hosts who translate economic anguish, psychological distress, and po- litical confusion into blind rage. They swarm into populist Tea Party rallies, hoping to find like-minded kinsmen willing to join with them to turn the country around. Some even take up arms against their own country, establishing semiautonomous enclaves and blowing up fed- eral buildings. And, of course, when threatened by external forces, they muster up their coldest steel-eyed Dirty Harry imitation and say, “Make my day.”

In suburbia, they’re the ones who cut you off on the freeway, screaming with rage if you dare to slow them down. If their kid doesn’t make that suburban soccer team or that heartland hockey team, they’re the ones who rush out onto the field to hit the coach or strangle the referee—or start a fight with another equally enraged dad. They hiss with rage at their ex-wives (and their ex-wives’ lawyers) in family court. Further up the economic ladder, they’re the guys seething in the corner of the corporate “diversity training” workshop, snarling that they are now “walking on eggshells” around the office, or stewing when their company hires a woman or a minority, because, they say, affirmative action is really reverse discrimination against white men. And some of their teenage sons are strolling through deserted suburban train sta- tions at night with a bunch of friends, looking for immigrants or gay men to beat up—or kill.

They are America’s angry white men. Actually, one might say more simply that they’re just America’s white men—they just happen to be angrier than ever before in our recent history. Journalists duly record the decrease in compassion and the increase in untrammeled selfish- ness, and pundits decry the collapse of civility in political discourse, even as they shout at each other at the top of the best seller lists. One guy’s a big, fat idiot! The other is a big, fat liar! The current political atmosphere in Washington has been called the nastiest and angriest in our history.

The past two decades have witnessed mainstream white Ameri- can men exploding like never before in our history. They draw their ranks from the middle class (office workers, salaried salesmen) and

9781568586960-text.indd 49781568586960-text.indd 4 8/16/13 12:30 PM8/16/13 12:30 PM


the lower middle class (the skilled worker, small farmer, or shop- keeper). They’re the “pa” in the ma-and-pa store, Richard Nixon’s “silent majority,” and “Reagan Democrats.” They’re “Joe Lunch- bucket,” and “Joe the Plumber,” and just plain Joe. They feel they’ve borne the weight of the world on their backs, and they can’t hold it up any longer. And now, suddenly, some of these regular guys are re- inventing the American Revolution with Tea Party, Minutemen, and Patriot organizations, while others are further out there, organizing militias and joining survivalist cults, waging war on “feminazis,” rampaging through their workplaces, promoting protectionist and anti-immigrant policies.

They’re listening to angry white men like Rush Limbaugh, Mike Savage, and a host of other

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