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TYRRELL: It depends on who’s angry

Livid left is cool; raging right is taboo

- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2013

A derogatory term in American politics has come to my attention. It is the "angry white male." I am apparently a member of this lowdown grouping of Americanos. According to Wikipedia, "the free encyclopedia," the term delineates a male who is "characterized by opposition to racial quotas, political correctness, affirmative action, anti-discrimination policies, and other liberal policies." With the possible exception of "anti-discrimination policies," that pretty much describes my politics, though I would add a few other prejudices to the mix, such as advocacy of free-market economics, opposition to socialism or any form of statism, opposition to totalitarianism, and preference for cafe noir.

I doubt that the preference for such policies is the exclusive enthusiasm of angry white males. Most of the women I know and admire are with me on these political issues, and most of my nonwhite friends — women and men — are, too. All of us feel that these values have done a lot of good for America. Yet up there in the kultursmog — in that rarefied stratosphere where American culture supposedly is determined — these values are presented as inimical to the good life.

Up in the kultursmog, being angry is not a desirable or even acceptable characteristic. This is a surprising change of tune. Only a few years ago, the kultursmog very much admired anger, viz. the anger of the vaunted "angry left." The angry left gave the country an exemplar, a righteously indignant citizen of progressive disposition, an American who was not going to take it anymore. Anger gave the left a kind of authenticity. From roughly 2006 to 2008, the kultursmog saw the anger of the angry left as something that America was going to "just have to deal with," to negotiate with, to placate.

What made the angry left acceptable and the angry white male unacceptable and at times frightening? No one knows. The kultursmog relies on dogmatic and unproven statements, on ipse dixitisms, as the grammarians call it. Ipse dixitism is the metier of the kultursmog. Up there in the smog, the angry left is fine. The angry white male is alarming and anti-social, and he ought not to own or carry guns. Roughly translated from the original Latin, ipse dixit means he himself said it or they themselves said it. So there you have it. We live with a culture, certainly a political culture, that is defined by dogmatism, and the dogma is neither yours nor mine.

How many of you remember the days when the angry left was passed off as salutary by the kultursmog? Today, we do not hear much about it. It went the way of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the other Occupy movements. Now in the smog, anger is a bad thing, and it is associated with white males. It even has Republicans uneasy. Just a couple of weeks ago, the chairman of the Ohio Republican Party at a national meeting of other Republican eminences spoke for them all when he said, "We need to understand that we can't come off as a bunch of angry white men." Of course, he was using a term shaped by his enemies. Some Republicans are not very smart.

Now that we have the Brothers Tsarnaev on the scene, the term angry white male is going to be handled gingerly by the kultursmog. The brothers certainly have exhibited anger. In addition, they have resorted to gun violence as well as violence with explosives, and they are white. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, they apparently indulged in carjacking and, if reports are true, it was a car made laughable with that idiotic "coexist" bumper sticker on its rear bumper. Yet they are Muslims, people of faith. What does this mean? How will this be factored into the kultursmog's judgment?

Again, no one knows for sure. We shall just have to wait until the smog forms around the case of the Brothers Tsarnaev. When you are dealing with political culture that comes up with unproven statements from an ipse dixit source, anything is possible.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator and adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute.

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