The Butthurt Right, Or, An Outbreak of the White-Man Vapors

…so feared by a patriarchal world…

Audre Lorde

But their remedies do not cure the disease: they merely prolong it.
Indeed, their remedies are part of the disease.

Oscar Wilde, “The Soul of Man under Socialism”

Let’s start with a fact that few are willing to acknowledge:

Despite endless debates between and about the Right and the Left in the U.S., there is no substantial Left in the U.S.—a country that is solidly right of center and distinctly so when compared to Canada or European countries with a vibrant Left.

The U.S. Left is Obama and the Clintons—neoliberals who nudge at the left edge of capitalism and a country in perpetual war.

The U.S. Left is a sort of polite progressivism of rhetoric that sees almost no fruition in action of any kind.

The U.S. Left is a compromising incrementalism that sustains the disease; it is Tyrion.

The U.S. Left meekly raises it hand and whispers: “Might we consider how we could be a tad bit less sexist, racist, and homophobic—and if that isn’t too much trouble, a little less violent?”—before shrinking away for fear of the response.

And those whispers—or God forbid a direct shout—are met with what we have now in the U.S., a newly butthurt Right, an outbreak (dare I say “epidemic”) of white-man vapors.

Nicholas Kristof—nice-guy, cardboard “progressive”—thinks the nasty Left in the U.S. has excluded the Right from academia (and we all know how powerful academia is in the U.S., right? nudge nudge), and the education reform movement (a bi-partisan assault on public education that is entirely a rightwing enterprise) is all atwitter because of the contentious Left/Right divide (Gosh, they are fuming, if those nasty BLM folk don’t settle down, all the Righties will flee the reform movement!).

All of this butthurt on the Right is very much reflected in both the rise of Trump in the wake of Black Lives Matter and the silliness of Kristof and edureform butthurt.

The white-man vapors are triggered by Michelle Alexander’s relatively moderate confrontation of the New Jim Crow, the polite left-of-center Ta-Nehisi Coates, and the Norman Rockwell Obama family just as they are accelerated by BLM, Cornel West, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

And the butthurt messages come from faux-progressives (Kristof) as much as they come from the rabid Right—political leaders, religious leaders, and law enforcement publicly stating that gays slaughtered in Orlando deserved the massacre or calling on gun owners to shoot black protesters at Trump rallies and the Republican convention.

The polite and articulate butthurt punditry on the Right, like Michael Petrilli trying to shame BLM for having the audacity to name racism “racism,” is very little different from the bully racism of Trump; in fact, they are an inseparable part of the U.S.’s conservative nature reflected in the necrophilic South.

In fact, the U.S. once chided the South for its backwardness, its illogical Bible thumping and gun toting, but we stand today in a U.S. where the essence of the entire country is just like that South.

The white-man vapors are upon us, but we must not fall prey to the same-old faux-liberal solution to yelping Rightwingers; we must not shrink against the fears of the most powerful people in the country who see their ill-gained fortunes and power slipping away.

No, the butthurt Right is a sign that women, black and brown people, the LGBT+ community, and people of all faiths and nationalities are demanding to be heard, are standing on the right side of history, which is ironically on the Left.

Higher education does not need a diversity of thought that includes traditional bigotry, misogyny, and a blind faith in disaster capitalism.

And let’s hope the neoliberals (self-identified as both Right and Left) throw up their hands and exit stage right the education reform movement—which has rained terror on the vulnerable populations of students who need our public schools the most.

James Baldwin wrote in The Nation (July 11, 1966), “The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer.”

He was naming racism “racism,” both in the acts of specific police officers and as a systemic reality of the U.S. codified in the judicial system.

Baldwin was not being impolite. He was not ostracizing the Right or shaming white male patriarchy.

Baldwin was speaking necessary truth to power—and it resonates to this day because the butthurt Right slips into the vapors every time they are held accountable for the wreck of the ship they built and captained.

The barely audible Left in the U.S. has pushed the door slightly open to the House White Male Privilege built.

The owners are clutching their pearls as they lean against that door chastising the intruders to please simmer down.

We must not step back. We must push the door open, throw out the Masters, and start anew.

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