11 June

Fanny: “Who Gives A S—?” About Angry Old White Men

by Jon Katz

The other day, writing about the importance of truth,  I said some and bad things about Angry Old White Men, who I have come to dislike lately.

I see them as arrogant cheerleaders for hate and fear and skilled manipulators of embattled working people. They preach hatred and grievance, they embrace lies to succeed.

I know some Nice Old White Men who are not at all angry. We are embarrassed about our fellow old white men.

One of the sacred duties of older men, especially white men, in my mind, is to be gracious and get out-of-the-way of the people behind me. The future does not belong to me. After watching Angry Old White Men enthusiastically embrace the destruction of the world for money, I am eager to let other people give world domination a shot: women, young people, people of color.

They have to do better than we did.

The Angry Old White Men are hanging on for dear life, closing the door behind them as loudly and firmly as they can.

They are doomed, but determined to make life miserable to the bitter end for all of us. These are good reasons in my mind for me to dislike them. Everybody else is free to make up their own mind.

Yuk.

It didn’t occur to me that my squawking about Angry Old White Men could be seen as controversial. Just look at the news, it’s right there.

A long-time blog reader, Janet, did not like my ruminations about Angry Old White Men.

Angry white men? Sexist,  racist,  comment, Jon. Not cool.” she wrote.

Well, on one level I was proud.

My workshop teacher John Updike said if a writer didn’t piss somebody off every time he wrote, he or she was spiritually dead and probably worthless. But I hit the Trifecta with Janet.

In a way, it’s kind of a hat trick to be accused of being racist and sexist and uncool for dumping on Angry Old White Men. I mean, Janet, have  you looked at a photo of me on the blog lately?

I am an Angry Old White Man, who is angry at other Angry Old White Men, and am the very antithesis of cool, for which Angry Old White Men are not generally known.

At my age, the best I can hope for is funky, or to be seen as a character.

I mean I might not be the brightest bulb in the shed, but I’m not sure how that would work, even in the time of the Twitter Thought Police.

Also ironic is the fact that I was writing a post about the important of telling the truth, no matter what people think.

This being the era of the Twitter Thought Police, and the joy of sending messages without having to think much, it seemed surreal to be called racist, sexist and uncool for telling the truth about my peeps and allegedly not caring what people think.

Social media often reminds me of Middle School, where name calling always overwhelmed thought or discussion. Whenever my classmates wanted to get to me, they called me a “fag” or a “fairy.” In our day, the equivalent is to call me “racist” or “sexist.”

The true racists in our country’s history – the KKK, the lynchers, the slaveholders, the white nationalists, etc., etc. – would be horrified to think if me as a peer. I hope you never run into one, Janet, you might be more careful about the words you toss around.

But I think in America, perhaps the worst thing one can be called is uncool. Racists get to work in the White House and become U.S. Senators and cable TV commentators.

Sexists are taking a pounding, but they are as resilient as beetles.  You can never kill them all, they regenerate without sex (obviously, without sex).

If you look at the photo of the Alabama white, ban-abortion, legislators (Angry Old White Men to a one) then you can see the sexists aren’t doing bad either.

If Janet is right, my moment is coming, I should be famous and influential any second.

To lick my wounds and ponder truth, I went out, as I often do, to commune with my wise and all-knowing donkey, Fanny.

Donkeys have been with human beings for thousands of years, they have seen it all. No man is a hero to his wife, valet, or donkey. Fanny doesn’t give it away, but she has always tolerated me and deigned to let me rub her neck when she feels like it.

I can’t claim not to care what Janet wrote about me, I mean, being a racist, sexist and uncool old white man is not where I hoped to end up, I was hoping for E.B. White.

I didn’t work so hard all these years for this.

I have never had a valet, but I do have a wife and a donkey, and I can tell you my wife would not get into bed with an uncool racist and sexist. Strike Ten!

She wouldn’t let me touch her breasts in bed for one minute or let me sleep like a spoon or   even sit down and have dinner with her. She doesn’t care if I am cool or not, but she has no love for racists or sexists.

My wife makes vulva postcards and posters and writes about and admires Goddesses who eat men for lunch.

If she agreed with Janet, the front door would open, and Red would come out first, followed by Bud, my computer, my camera, and then me. She might keep Red (not Bud.)

When I met her, she and her wolf dog Frieda were proud man-haters. Frieda is gone, but my wife is still not crazy about men, she does concede that there might be one or two good ones out there. She doesn’t mention any names.

And she has even less tolerance for Angry Old White Men than I do. I went to see a donkey hoping some of her wisdom might rub off on me.

“What do you think, Fanny?,” I asked my donkey this morning as she stood pondering me. She is generally  fond of me – except when she isn’t – and tolerates my shortcomings.

Fanny gave me one of her level and eye-rolling stares. “Jon,” she said. “Go get me a carrot, will you, and stop dicking around.  In the blink of an eye we will both be dead and who gives a shit what Janet says?”

16 Comments

  1. From one non-angry old white man to another, this is the best thing I’ve read in months. I’m not afraid to say I want to send you an internet hetero-hug. You rocked this one in a very too-cool-for-old-school way! You will always be my Journeys Hero.

  2. Has Janet taken a peek at the United States Senate lately? Have you seen Mitch in action? (and I don’t mean the “Sing Along with” one.)

  3. Jon – My own take on this is that if your words had been about angry young women of color, then I think that they definitely should be classified as racist and sexist. But are they if they are directed at people who are in the same color, age and gender group that you yourself are in?If I complain about angry old white women, am I being racist and sexist, being in all of those categories myself? Interesting philosophical question.

    1. Barbara, thanks, I don’t really pay attention to rules like that. I just what what I believe, and it will fall where it falls. In our world, everything is controversial, and everything I write is controversial. I just try to tell the truth as I see it, knowing it is not everybody’s truth. I dont’ gauge whether it is safe or appropriate, just whether it is honest and not hurtful.

  4. Jon, you had me nodding in agreement and laughing all the way through, then a total guffaw erupted from me when I read your last paragraph! Fanny, you are sooooooo right! 🙂

  5. Animals are wiser than we know!! I’ll bet my sometimes bitchy alpaca named Felicia is a lot like like your donkey Fanny!

  6. If this were being performed in a theater, at the end, I would cheer and clap and give you a standing ovation. I loved this! Thank you so much for making me laugh and think..at the same time. I, too, love what Fanny said. She’s got it right. Just wonderful! Thank you, again.

  7. Bravo, that was a fantastic response and you put a lot of thought into it without being unkind. I appreciate that. Rock on, angry old white man! 🙂

    1. Thanks, I have to smile, if there’s any group I’m qualified to write about it, it would be old white men, angry or not..

  8. Hi Jon, I am smiling. I think I hit the trifecta with you, too. I’m weary of men being dumped on because I love men, Always have. My father was an amazing man/father. He left me well provided. No one has loved me like my father did. I am so fortunate to have had his care. After my mother died, I didn’t hear from my women friends for a long time, just my men friends who helped me get through the first week. Surprised? I’m not. I raised a man. He’s the bomb. Men are my heroes.

  9. This was brilliant. And I am saving this one. You’ve reminded me that the one good thing about my Ex divorcing me is that I have not had to live the past 27 years with An Angry Old White Man. Due to my forgiving nature, and a willingness to be kind to him, what with children and grandchildren and all, he is now thinking he might live with me part of the year, once he can no longer live on his boat. It’s a crap boat, his life’s dream, but that’s a completely different story. But now I can ‘splain it to him. He chose to divorce me. And if he thinks for one minute that I will choose to live for one day with An Angry Old White Man, he can stuff it. I’ve read your blog for 17 years, and now, thank you very much, I know why.

  10. The world is like a pendulum at times I think. One radical idea swings way out and then gravity pulls it back to center and out in the opposite direction. Perhaps perfection is that little tiny bit in the center. Our minds give names to things and assign meanings to those names but behind the mind in a place of stillness where there are no names, no differences between Fanny, or you, or I, and bliss resides.

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