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.