The roots of male rage, on show at the Kavanaugh hearing

American men do have genuine reasons for anxiety. The traditional jobs that many men have filled are disappearing, thanks to automation and outsourcing. The jobs that remain require, in most cases, higher education, which is increasingly difficult for non-affluent families to afford. We should indeed tremble for the future of both men and women in our country unless we address that problem, and related problems of declining health and well-being for working-class men.

.. Three emotions, all infused by fear, play a role in today’s misogyny. The most obvious is anger — at women making demands, speaking up, in general standing in the way of unearned male privilege. Women were once good mothers and good wives, props and supports for male ambition, the idea goes –but here they are asserting themselves in the workplace. Here they are daring to speak about their histories of sexual abuse at the hands of powerful men. It’s okay for women to charge strangers with rape, especially if the rapist is of inferior social status. But to dare to accuse the powerful is to assail a bastion of privilege to which men still cling.

.. Coupled with anger is envy. All over the world, women are seeing unprecedented success in higher education, holding a majority of university seats. In our nation many universities quietly practice affirmative action for males with inferior scores, to achieve a “gender balance” that is sometimes dictated by commitment to male sports teams, given Title IX’s mandate of proportional funding.

.. But men still feel that women are taking “their” places in college classes, in professional schools.

.. Envy, propelled by fear, can be even more toxic than anger, because it involves the thought that other people enjoy the good things of life which the envier can’t hope to attain through hard work and emulation. Envy is the emotion of Aaron Burr in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton”

.. And then, beneath the hysteria, lurks a more primitive emotion: disgust at women’s animal bodies.

.. In the United States, we observe this dynamic in racism, in homophobia and even in revulsion toward the bodies of people who are aging. But in every culture male disgust targets women, as emblems of bodily nature, symbolic animals by contrast to males, almost angels with pure minds.

.. Disgust for women’s bodily fluids is fully compatible with sexual desire. Indeed, it often singles out women seen as promiscuous, the repositories of many men’s fluids.

.. as with the apparent defamation of Renate Dolphin in Kavanaugh’s infamous yearbook, men often crow with pride over intercourse with a woman imagined as sluttish and at the same time defame and marginalize her.

.. Disgust is often more deeply buried than envy and anger, but it compounds and intensifies the other negative emotions.

.. Our president seems to be especially gripped by disgust: for women’s menstrual fluids, their bathroom breaks, the blood imagined streaming from their surgical incisions, even their flesh, if they are more than stick-thin.

Max Boot’s Weak Defense of Harvard’s Affirmative Action

“You don’t necessarily want a student body made up entirely of bookworms . . .” This point is often made in defense of race-conscious admissions policies, but it always seems to me to be an attack on a strawman. Who argues that colleges should ignore musical talent, charitable works, or athletic ability? And where’s the evidence that positive non-academic qualities are generally correlated with race? From the proposition that not all students should be bookworms, it does not follow that therefore colleges should put a thumb on the scale for whites over Asians and for blacks and Hispanics over whites. But that logic would have to be valid for Boot’s argument to be pertinent to the controversy.

.. The Supreme Court, by the way, has rejected this kind of remedial justification for racial preferences, in part because it frowns, for obvious reasons, on using race as a proxy for other variables.

..  “There is, moreover, value in a diverse student body. You learn more about life if you go to class with people who are different from you — who have different abilities, different geographic origins, different social classes, different sexualities, different religions, different political views and, yes, different ethnicities.”

.. Boot has only so much space to make his case, so it would be unfair to infer from the fact that he does not substantiate or specify the alleged benefits of this diversity that it cannot be done.

.. Are we really supposed to believe that Harvard is trying with all its might to ensure that the campus has plenty of Pentecostals, Italian-Americans, and Trump supporters?

 

Why Trump Supporters Distrust Immigration and Diversity

But is he addressing legitimate interest-group concerns or is he pandering to racial fears? There is a rather one-sided debate over what motivates Mr. Trump and his supporters. A wave of new books and articles still invoke stereotypes trotted out on election night: Mr. Trump’s “angry white voters” were motivated by racism, resentment, “whitelash,” declining economic or social status, irrational fears of economic or demographic change, or all of the above. They are deluded, confused “Strangers in Their Own Land,” as suggested by the title of a book by the sociologist Arlie Hochschild.

.. “the diversity machine.” This powerful policy juggernaut has quietly and questionably blended together two trends that threaten working- and middle-class whites.

.. It’s the old story of costs and benefits of building America on the backs of cheap immigrant labor.

.. Economic competition fuels ethnic antagonism — and nativism, racism and the like.

.. There has been very little scholarly or public attention paid to a second policy trend that intensified the antagonism born of this ethnically split labor market. In the 1990s, affirmative action’s original mission to right past wrongs against African-Americans was transformed into an expanded list of preferences in the workplace and in higher education for immigrant subgroups (for example, Hispanics, Asians or Pacific Islanders).

.. from 2013 to 2016, medical schools in the United States accepted 94 percent of blacks, 83 percent of Hispanics, 63 percent of whites and 58 percent of Asians with top MCAT scores of 30 to 32 and grade-point averages of 3.6 to 3.8;
.. The presidential candidates in 2016 were largely silent on affirmative action, but Mr. Trump said in 2015 that he was “fine with it” though “it’s coming to a time when maybe we don’t need it.”
.. Institutional racism remains a problem, as does immigration and the balancing of assimilation and pluralism. But identity politics and identity policies may have become too divisive and complicated in both theory and practice.

Black people aren’t keeping white Americans out of college. Rich people are.

What better time to change the conversation and re-energize the base? And what better way than by raising the lightning rod that is affirmative action?

.. Justice Department officials attempted to play down the initiative after the story broke, stating that they planned to investigate a single complaint involving Asian American applicants, not whites. But it barely mattered. The message was sent.

.. Affirmative action is a consistent hobbyhorse on the right because it combines real anxieties with compelling falsehoods.
.. At 38 top colleges in the United States, more students come from the top 1 percent of income earners than from the bottom 60 percent. Really leveling the admissions playing field, assuming the Trump administration actually cares about doing so, would involve much broader efforts to redistribute wealth and power. A focus on fringe campaigns against affirmative action suggests it does not.
.. Addressing inequalities in K-12 education, for instance, could help at-risk students of all races increase their chances of attending a top college
.. Pressing universities to drop legacy preferences, following the example of other elite schools such as the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge, could free up spots for those without that built-in advantage. Trump’s own wealthy-parent-sponsored education at the University of Pennsylvania, followed by the subsequent admission of three of his four adult children, makes that particular initiative seem unlikely.
.. the Trump Justice Department’s proposed attack on affirmative action is a microcosm of how the president won the 2016 election and continues to maintain a base of support.
First, Trump taps into a mainstream concern, one tied to how America’s economic system is changing and how some individuals are left at the margin:
  • Employment?
  • Immigration?
  • College?
  • Take your pick.
Then, instead of addressing the issue in a way that embraces both its complexity and well-established research, officials opt for simplistic talking points known to inflame an already agitated base: Immigrants are sneaking into the country and stealing your jobs! Minorities are pushing you out of college!

.. The Trump administration assumes that picking race-focused fights is the most successful way to distract from its failures and to pander to a grievance-inspired base. The level of support for this latest attempt may prove it right.