The Right Should Reject Tucker Carlson’s Victimhood Populism by D. French
I am a conservative – but I am repulsed and amazed at how so many other conservatives minimize or are else blind to the problem of sexism in American culture, and they feign ignorance of what Toxic Masculinity means. Conservative talk show host Tucker Carlson is among those conservatives.
One of my pet peeves with fellow conservatives is how they fault liberal, secular feminists for supposedly maintaining a “victimhood culture” in regards to women, but all the while, the same conservatives making this argument often paint men as being victims.
I’ve blogged on that topic before:
Here is an editorial by David French addressing conservative Tucker Carlson’s victimhood mentality (Carlson shows a continued failed understanding of what “Toxic Masculinity” means, and he regularly has on his program, as guest commentators, conservative women who bad-mouth liberal feminism and who claim boys and men are under attack in American culture – in other words, Carlson gives air time to the notion that males in the United States are victims who should be pitied and protected):
Carlson accurately identifies certain maladies, but they are maladies that public policy can’t cure.
Yesterday Tucker Carlson delivered the monologue heard around the conservative world.
He addresses one of the fundamental questions of our time — why, when GDP is rising and America is immensely rich, are so very many of our fellow citizens dying deaths of despair? As he bluntly says, “Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot.”
He says many true things – that people long for connection with each other, that we can’t separate economics and family life into distinct spheres, and that men suffer from a unique challenge in modern American life.
But he also says false things. He says that manufacturing “all but disappeared over the course of a generation.” It hasn’t. He says, “increasingly, marriage is a luxury only the affluent in America can afford.” Yet a healthy, faithful marriage is often the gateway to affluence. Affluence is not a prerequisite for marriage.
He casts American boys as a generation of burnouts, yet the best evidence shows that marijuana use is only on a slight uptick and is still way down from its highs in the late 1970s and early 1980s. (Some evidence even suggests its use has stabilized in recent years.)
…Carlson is advancing a form of victim-politics populism that takes a series of tectonic cultural changes — civil rights, women’s rights, a technological revolution as significant as the industrial revolution, the mass-scale loss of religious faith, the sexual revolution, etc. — and turns the negative or challenging aspects of those changes into an angry tale of what they are doing to you.
But the reality is that responsibilities are reciprocal.
Yes, we need public officials to do their best to create and sustain a government most conducive to human flourishing, but the primary responsibility for creating a life of virtue and purpose rests with families and individuals.
In fact, it is still true that your choices are far more important to your success than any government program or the actions of any nefarious banker or any malicious feminist.
It is a simple fact, that when people make bad choices, there are a cascade of negative effects that follow. The extraordinarily difficult challenge of public policy is considering how to mitigate the effects of those mistakes and providing pathways to overcoming bad decisions. And nothing about that is easy.
…I agree with Carlson that more radical forms of feminism have turned too many of our institutions against boys. I agree that affirmative action based on skin color is divisive, unconstitutional, and unfair. But while these policies and cultural trends may create impediments to personal success, these impediments are speedbumps — not impenetrable barriers.
…The problem with populism — and indeed with much of American politics — is that it focuses on the political at the expense of the personal. As I’ve argued many times, there are wounds that public policy can’t heal.
But populism too often pretends otherwise. It tells a fundamentally false story about Americans as victims of a heartless elite and their “worship” of market economics rather than the true story of America as a flawed society that still grants its citizens access to tremendous opportunity.
…We should channel men’s masculine impulses into virtuous pathways without mocking them and seeking to change their fundamental nature.
…We should do all these things and more. But we must not create a victim class of angry citizens. We must not tell them falsehoods about the power of governments or banks or elites over their personal destinies. We must not make them feel helpless when they are not helpless.
Regarding this portion:
I agree with Carlson that more radical forms of feminism have turned too many of our institutions against boys.
Er, no. I don’t agree that institutions have been “turned against boys.” Certainly not the school system.
Regarding this portion of the editorial:
We should channel men’s masculine impulses into virtuous pathways without mocking them and seeking to change their fundamental nature.
I assume the author there refers to critiques of Toxic Masculinity and I suspect that this author, like Carlson, doesn’t understand what the phrase means.
Those who discuss Toxic Masculinity are not saying that all “masculine impulses” are wrong or bad – there is a reason, after all, why the modifier of “Toxic” is applied before the word “Masculinity.” As in, masculinity is just fine, but not the toxic forms it takes, if it takes on a toxic form.
I’m at least happy that a conservative author has noted that Carlson is advocating that Americans (I guess American men specifically) take on a victimhood mentality, which is something guys like him (Carlson) criticize feminists for supposedly doing.
Toxic Femininity, the Flip Side of Toxic Masculinity, and the Love of Scientific- Sounding Jargon to Endorse Sexism – Sexist Beliefs and Practices are Acceptable so Long As There is a Scientific Study That Defends Them