Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called out a small cabal of "angry old white men" yesterday, accusing them of bankrolling conservative groups to the tune of mega-multi-millions of dollars to not just influence but to buy outright this fall’s elections.
"If this flood of outside money continues, the day after the election, 17 angry old white men will wake up and realize they've just bought the country," said Reid from the Senate floor. "That's a sad commentary. About 60 percent or more of these outside groups' dollars are coming from these 17 people. These donors have something in common with their nominee. Like Mitt Romney, they believe they play by their own set of rules."
Reid's statements precede the Senate’s Republicans’ expected defeat (by filibuster) of a Democratic bill requiring disclosure of the names of all senators' campaign contributors. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) condemned the bill as a distraction which is meant to "...create the impression of mischief, where there is none."
Sen. Reid’s “angry old white male” is generally considered a pejorative term indicating a white male who harbors “traditional” or “conservative” views, especially relative to the American political landscape. The “angry white male” expresses total, unyielding opposition to racial quotas, “political correctness,” affirmative action and most other anti-discrimination and “liberal” or “left-wing” policies and practices.
Although the term may include white males from prepubescence to old age, Reid has inserted the descriptor, “old,” because the current manifestation of these people centers around a small group of white male billionaires, all above the age of 60. Age notwithstanding, the principal characteristic of Reid’s “angry white males” is a longing for the "way things used to be," and a belief that the world was better "back then" when small groups of propertied white males basically controlled without question the basic necessities and most meaningful aspects of everyone’s lives.
The protagonist in Falling Down, 1993, a former defense worker, descends into increasing rage and violence. This depiction of the angry white male centers on “Foster” as he embarks upon a violent rampage across Los Angeles in order to get to his ex-wife’s home for their daughter's birthday party. While traversing the city, he encounters the whole array of Los Angeles’ lower class and lower caste types. His violent reactions to these people and his vulgar and profane statements about them reveal a deep seated hatred of all things non-white, and non-male.
In Joe, 1970, the “hero” rampages against “hippies” and their lifestyle. He begins by murdering his hippie daughter’s drug dealing boyfriend, and then destroys a whole commune of hippies. Their freedom and disdain for authority, authority which he never had himself, but which he has always respected – that of other, higher status, white males -- fuels his hatred and murderous ways.
Gran Torino, 2008, stars as a retired, widowed, Korean War veteran who is basically mad at the world. It’s Eastwood's return as a leading man after a four year hiatus. The film features a large Hmong American cast, as well as one of Eastwood's younger sons, Scott Eastwood. Set in Detroit, it was the first mainstream U.S. film to feature Hmong Americans. Many Lao Hmong war refugees resettled in the U.S. following the communist takeover of Laos in 1975. Eastwood’s interaction with his new and very different neighbors is fraught with racial and racist undertones, and vividly portrays his desires for things as they used to be, again, when white males controlled everything. His frustration with the new dispensation ends in the fullfillment of an obvious death wish.
And so, the “angry white male” syndrome encompasses all types – from the controlling, virtually omnipotent billionaire seeking to buy an entire country to the crotchety, grumpy old pensioner, waiting for, even welcoming death to save him from this strange, new, and out of "properly" controlled world.
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