Real Men Might Get Made Fun Of

“How to build a better white guy” is a conversation that could turn academic fast, replete with all the jargon that the sneering class finds so tedious: intersectionality, emotional labor, systemic oppression, the dreaded “privilege.” But when I sat down with my friends, only one question sprang to mind, and it was personal, not pedantic.

“Do you ever stick up for me?”

.. So, if you care, how often do you say something? Maybe you’ll confront your close friends, but what about more powerful men, famous men, cool men, men who could further your career?

.. One of the subtlest and most pervasive is social ostracism — coding empathy as the fun killer, consideration for others as an embarrassing weakness and dissenting voices as out-of-touch, bleeding-heart dweebs (at best). Coolness is a fierce disciplinarian.

.. People of color not only have to deal with racism; they also have to deal with white people labeling them “angry” or “hostile” or “difficult” for objecting.

.. “SJW” is an acronym for “social justice warrior,” a sarcastic pejorative that purports to refer to online progressive zealots who cross the line from activist to moral scold. In practice, though, the term usually means “anyone asking me to adjust my behavior for reasons I deem annoying or frivolous,”

.. The “dirtbag left,” in contrast to these “warriors,” promises a world in which you can have it both ways: You can be good without ever seeming uncool in front of your buddies, you can be an advocate for social justice without ever considering there might be social forces beyond your ken, you can be a crusader for positive change without ever killing anyone’s buzz, you can be a progressive hero without ever taking identity politics seriously.

.. She testified that she and female colleagues were not invited to a business dinner with Al Gore, the former vice president. “It was said that if there were women there, the conversation would be tempered,” she said, “and it was because women kill the buzz.”

.. I’m frequently contacted by young women weighing the (iffy) benefits and (massive) costs of calling out sexism in their male-dominated industries. I always think: Why is this even our responsibility to fix?

.. One of my podcasting friends told me that he does stick up for women in challenging situations, like testosterone-soaked comedy green rooms, for instance, but complained, “I get mocked for it!”

Yes, I know you do. Welcome. Getting yelled at and made fun of is where many of us live all the time.

Speaking up costs us friends, jobs, credibility and invisible opportunities we’ll never even know enough about to regret.

.. But I need you to absorb that risk. I need you to get yelled at and made fun of, a lot, and if you get kicked out of the club, I need you to be relieved, and I need you to help build a new one.

The Bow-Tied Bard of Populism

Tucker Carlson’s latest reinvention is guided by a simple principle—a staunch aversion to whatever his right-minded neighbors believe.

“I’m so pathetically eager for people to love D.C.,” he admits. “It’s so sad. It’s like I work for the chamber of commerce or something.”

If this boosterism seems out of character for a primetime populist like Carlson, he doesn’t seem to mind the dissonance. He speaks glowingly of his Northwest Washington neighborhood, a tony enclave of liberal affluence where, he tells me, he is surrounded by diplomats, lawyers, world bankers, and well-paid media types. They are reliably “wonderful”; unfailingly “nice”; “some of my favorite people in the world.” If you’ve watched Carlson on TV lately, you know they are also wrong about virtually everything.

.. “Look, it’s really simple,” Carlson says. “The SAT 50 years ago pulled a lot of smart people out of every little town in America and funneled them into a small number of elite institutions, where they married each other, had kids, and moved to an even smaller number of elite neighborhoods. We created the most effective meritocracy ever.”

“But the problem with the meritocracy,” he continues, is that it “leeches all the empathy out of your society … The second you think that all your good fortune is a product of your virtue, you become highly judgmental, lacking empathy, totally without self-awareness, arrogant, stupid—I mean all the stuff that our ruling class is.”

.. Carlson’s true talent is not for political philosophizing, it’s for televised partisan combat. His go-to weapons—the smirky sarcasm, the barbed comebacks, the vicious politeness—seem uniquely designed to drive his sparring partners nuts, frequently making for terrific television. Indeed, if cable news is ultimately theater, Carlson’s nightly performance is at once provocative, maddening, cringe-inducing, and compulsively watchable. Already, in its few short months in primetime, Tucker Carlson Tonight has created more viral moments than it had any right to do.

.. Though he has earned a reputation among his media antagonists for being an ambush artist—luring guests onto his show under false pretenses and then humiliating them with “gotcha” questions—Carlson says he’s always upfront while booking interviewees, and strives to avoid mean-spiritedness.

.. When I ask him why he was so infuriated by Duca, he thinks about it for a moment.

Finally, he answers, “It was the unreasonableness … It’s this assumption—and it’s held by a lot of people I live around—that you’re on God’s side, everyone else is an infidel, and by calling them names you’re doing the Lord’s work. I just don’t think that’s admirable, and I’m not impressed by that.”

.. the essence of Carlson’s case against the educated elites and well-heeled technocrats that comprise America’s ruling class (not to mention his neighborhood). They are

  • too certain of their own righteousness,
  • too dismissive of dissenters,
  • too unwilling to entertain new ideas.

.. When Carlson first joined primetime last year, he assigned his show a mission statement: “The sworn enemy of lying, pomposity, smugness, and groupthink.”

.. united in their hatred of a common enemy, the smug elites who Carlson rails against every night. And while he may have spent his life happily living among them, he’s clearly demonstrated he has no qualms about taking them on.