One day, Whiteman found himself so angry, so anxious, that his head felt like the splitting rind of an overripe cantaloupe sitting in a south Georgia sun. The future he had planned for himself and his family was in ruins. Terrorism was all around him. Forces beyond his control were costing him his job, his home, his peace of mind and any hope for a quiet retirement. Whiteman had always valued control, and now he was losing it. All of his life, he had stayed generally honest. He had picked up the check and played by the rules. Now he felt as though he’d been played for a sucker. But played by who? He was angry.

Whiteman had always hated losing. His ethnocultural DNA hard-wired him to explore the far shore, the other side of the ocean, and conquer the hell out of what and whom he found was getting in his way. Now Whiteman felt like the little band of British soldiers in the movie “Zulu” (Whiteman’s favorite) surrounded by the impi of the African warriors moving in from all sides. He felt he was no longer the winner in this game and the anger was rising in the back of his throat like fizzy yellow acid.

Illegal immigration. Socialized medicine. Homo-sexual marriages. Gun control. Claims of global warming. Terrorism. Muslims at Ground Zero. Obama. Government taking a fascist-communist tilt, although that implied the ship of state was leaning left and right simultaneously.

Adding to these macro-fears shot into his mental landscape like so many skyrockets by a 24-7 chorus of Angry White Men on talk shows and cable TV were the everyday micro-fears that turned his fear into outright anger. It was the anger of people who were losing a secure place in the world. It was potent, and if one knows some history, carried with it a deadly cause and effect.  Whiteman’s job had vanished or demanded more work for less pay. Benefits? What’s that? Whiteman was told layoffs were coming if sales didn’t pick up before Christmas. An abyss was opening before him. For the first time in living memory, the future for the rising generation (his kids) would not be as potential-laden as was his. Mexicans couldn’t be blamed for all this.

The oldest child, just out of college, was saddled with a huge tuition debt but nobody was hiring. The youngest was in a middle school where instruction was boiled down to passing the district test and her rebellious boredom resulted in an uber-dramatic household dynamic. He remembered the 3-D storyboard his 8th grade class did of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”. It helped him appreciate the Bard for the rest of his life. Don’t schools do Shakespeare any more?

How would Whiteman express his sullen, growing anger about a civilization collapsing before his very eyes? He didn’t feel comfortable around the Yellow Snake Flag People. Their anger seemed as manufactured as their signs and their sloganeering sounded all alike.  He knew that Angry White Men ran each and every faction of the tea party movement, whose membership was mostly white men, angry, and racially transfixed by the presence of a Not-White demon in the White House. Billionaire Angry White Men paid for the movement: its signs, offices, organizers, and buses at their beck and call. Rebellion of the Masses goes better with Koch. At Yellow Snake Flag gatherings, white men seemed to be packing guns and burning with the desire to use them. Now Whiteman liked his guns. He had two long guns, a double barreled derringer and a replica of a Walther P-38.  But oft-repeated firepower displays at the yellow flag of Don’t Tread on Me didn’t impress Whiteman. Besides, Whiteman remembered his Revolutionary history and the flag in his history books showed a different snake. It was cut into bits representing the colonies and the message was very different: “Unite or Die.” Snake flag people weren’t into unity.

And then there was war. He wasn’t afraid to fight to protect and defend the nation, his community and his family. But lately, Whiteman was seeing blood and treasure pouring into the blood-soaked holes of wars that didn’t seem to make any sense. Like the Yellow Snake Flag people, he didn’t want anybody to tread on him or his kin. Yet this brace of wars over the past five decades all seemed to be orchestrated by hidden conductors, unvoiced agendas. Protection of the nation was no longer the purpose of the nation’s wars. Trillions of dollars were being sucked out of the nation and the nation suffered. These recent wars were about protecting loosely-defined national interests, like other people’s oil and showing “lesser breeds without the Law” the power of white men with guns, Predator drones, and B-2 Stealth bombers flying halfway round the world from Nebraska.

Whiteman ended the summer as angry as he had begun it. Even the “staycation” was sucky. He was painting a bookshelf, mentally replaying the speeches he had heard on the tube at the recent Glenn Beck Restore Honor rally, wondering if anything in that godawful mishmash of religiosity and bellicosity could lower his diastolic pressure a bit.

There was one thing Beck said that resonated with Whiteman: how honor could be defined as telling the truth. That was it. The magic of the Internet was the ability to cross reference practically anything and discover, if not the truth, at least the sign saying Truth This Way. Fifteen minutes on the computer was enough time to suss out practically any lie. When Whiteman heard people say Obama was raising taxes on working people, he would look it up. When he heard health care reform was socialism, he would look it up. One voice would not suffice.When he is told the next war was in the national interest, he will look it up. He would check this stuff out. Perhaps he wouldn’t be as vein-popping angry all the time.

Anger wasn’t all bad, thought Whiteman. Anger wins the “good wars.” Anger rights injustice. Anger at “what is” can usher in a new age of “what should be.” There’s much merit in saying that your’re mad as hell and won’t take it any more, he thought.

Whiteman didn’t confuse this righteous anger with spiteful, ignorant rage of the sort stoked by those bloodthirsty guttersnipes in the media and politics. A lot of what was going on was stimulated by Angry Overprivileged White Men for ratings or to make the obscenely rich even more wealthy by his impoverishment. His first research project was set.

“I want my country back,” the Angry White Men screamed over the course of the long hot summer. If this were a movie, I’d now cut to a closeup of Redman. He stands quietly. Redman clenches his fists and a storm of emotions bring the beginning of a tear. Camera pulls back. “Yeah,” says Redman. “Me too.” He walks away.

Read the other installments: Springtime for Turd Blossom | Springtime for Turd Blossom Part III

Boyd Lewis

Boyd Lewis

New Orleans family. War baby. Family moved a lot. Secondary and college education in Memphis, TN. Just before 1967 graduation, commissioning and tour of leafy, lovely Vietnam, banged up in auto accident. Decided to go into journalism. Tennessee mountain weekly, small Mississippi daily and nearly three decades in Atlanta. Black and alternative newspapers, freelance photojournalist, public radio news and documentary producer, news writer for CNN. Married Deborah James, followed her to Los Angeles for job. Quit the dismal trade and became middle school English teacher in LA barrio school. Quite happy.

  1. Great post. No, sensational. You are one gifted writer.

    1. Will Cantrell

      Ditto for me. Boyd, you’ve captured the situation so well that its downright scary. The piece should be required reading —for everybody. Thanks for a really great job. Will

      1. Thank you. Scary times call for scary wordcraft

  2. Frank Povah

    Thank you, Boyd. iIn Australia I was often castigated for saying “Now you know how the Nyoonga/Koori, Noonga/Murri felt” when talk back callers complained about immigrants taking over “their” country. I’d like to share this with you. It was written by Norm Newlin, a Koori friend of mine.

    felix Australis
    New Holland
    the Great Southland

    all the names
    this land was called
    until they decided on

    someone asked my Koori friend
    what it was called,
    before the whiteman came
    Chris just smiled
    and answered

    “OURS” before the white man came

    “This land” from “Where there’s life there’s spirit”, © Norm Newlin, 2000

    1. You captured the spirit of the piece with that poem. We’re all here now, mate. Let’s make the best of it.

  3. Terri Evans

    Boyd, I am still marveling at this piece. As you well know, this topic has been written about many times, but in my humble opinion, never so brilliantly. Seriously. Really appreciated the concept of “macro fears” and “micro fears,” and still achingly recall what it was like when we had our own middle-schooler, which you captured perfectly… “her rebellious boredom resulted in an uber-dramatic household dynamic.” This reads like it could be a magnificent speech and I don’t mean screaming rhetoric. Will you be delivering this tome somewhere?

    1. I dunno about speeches Terri. I teach middle school and am terrified every day to stand before these 12-year-old critics to deliver imparted wisdom. The perfect illustration must be credited to Lee Leslie. I marvel at how the canteloupe was so perfectly shopped onto the exploding head.

      1. Terri Evans

        Other audiences would not be as tough.

  4. Terri Evans

    And one more thing: kudos to the guy who created the perfect art to go with this piece.

  5. Alex Kearns

    Well done, sir! I have been stunned and transfixed by the bitter rage that fuels so many of late. It’s rather like the sickening sensation when one can’t tear one’s eyes away from a grisly accident on the highway.
    From the local bars to the boardrooms, the media to the aisles of WalMart, the blogs to the grandiose bloviating of media-whores such as Beck – it is a feeding frenzy of They’re To Blame-ism. And yet no one can tell me (with any modicum of sanity) who They are. The leading contenders appear to be Mexicans, Muslims and Democrats (aka “bleeding-heart liberal socialists”).
    Oddly enough the very people who clamor to “take the country back” and flag-whip others are the ones who seem to most despise the results of the democratic system.
    There appears to be three ways in which people are reacting to the new Age of Anger: 1) Join in and thrash about looking for a target 2) Decry the trend 3) Withdraw and leave them all to it. The first is abhorrent to me; the second may be a quixotic effort and the third, though understandable, merely grants the lunatics a free pass.
    And so the writers continue to write…

    1. Jim Fitzgerald

      Very insightful Alex – “the ones who seem to most despise the results of the democratic system.” How true!

  6. Jim Fitzgerald

    Boyd, I join the chorus in praise for such an insightful and very well composed piece of literary work. I look forward to hearing more from you.

  7. Of course. They can’t shut me up.

  8. All the praise from the others — agreed totally… and this: thank God! Somebody knows that fascist and communist aren’t synonyms! About the only angry name not thrown at this president has been “white” and he’s as much that as any of the others, and more than most.

  9. Brother Boyd

    You capture the essence of what I call the FUDDIES, those whose lives are operating by their FEAR, UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT. Gotta love the quote of FDR “there is nothing to Fear but Fear itself”, and Forrest Gump “Stupid is as Stupid Does”. These guys run around looking for Satan and ready to wield their mighty righteous swords to slay the evil around them. It took a black man, Rodney King, beaten beyond recognition to get it right. “Why can’t we just all get along”. after the LA riots in the early 90’s. Then comes OJ on the tail end of those riots…if the glove doesn’t fit you must aquit. That’s when the Angry Whiteman raised it’s ugly little head again. And bigotry came out in the open.

  10. Cliff Green

    Have you noticed that the nameless, faceless, racist cowards who need guns to extend their peckers have not written one word in response to Boyd’s brilliant post?
    Silence says it all.

    1. Thank you. As a career white man with decade upon decade of experience among other white men, I was inside the tent, as it were. I think I was sort of like the ornery brother-in-law at Thanksgiving who knows too much about the family to openly confront. I didn’t feel the need to lecture my confused, messed-over, stereotyped bretheren who are being propagandized that our president is a goddamn Kenyan Muslim who plans to destroy democracy, seize their popguns, chop off their heads and hand their wimmenfolk over to swarthy, lustful terrorists who come swarming out of the Ground Zero hole in NYC like the scarab beetles in that mummy movie. White men who are being relentlessly played like a $10 fiddle by a smarmy cabal of rich racists may have been forced to stop and think. Had I been a black Jewish lesbian saying the same thing, the Angry White Men would have locked and loaded and hunted me down like a moose on the Alaskan tundra. Hmmm. It IS awfully quiet. Too quiet.

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