Picture it: 2016. A month or so before the U.S. presidential election. I have inexplicably found myself in the employ of a highly liberal think-tank secretly funded by Bush/Reagan era Republicans. My main job is to create educational video games on recycling, empathy, and mining asteroids.
One day, we have a round-table brainstorming discussion with a Democratic operative literally wearing a man-bun. He asks us what we think is going to be the single most important social issue impacting the next ten years.
When it’s my turn, I say that we are raising a whole generation of angry young males with no healthy sense of Self, purpose, male identity, or their place in the wider community. A number of factors (societal, genetic, economic) have come together within these young men to create a “perfect storm” of ennui and rage that makes them perfect candidates for radicalization by one ignominious group or another. My solution? Well, for one thing, we need more outreach and special attention for these boys in school. But we also need to explore the wider sociological/emotional/existential reasons for WHY so many of them seem lost, unstable, and in despair. Because **if we DON’T**, not only is there going to be a sharp uptick in “lone wolf” massacres committed by this demographic, but an entire “lost” generation of unemployed, angry incels in their middle age are going to create havoc in the next twenty years.
And the response to me saying all of this was basically…to disregard what I just said on the basis of “Well if we try to understand why they’re doing all this, it’s tantamount to giving them sympathy.”
You know, so the basic idea was: we just gotta force these young men to respect women, embrace diversity, have empathy for their fellow human, and so on. And if they fail to observe these basic societal rules of etiquette…well, they’ll just be shunned, pushed off of online forums, publicly shamed, and so on.
And MY response to THAT response was:
So we have…three news stories within the span of a week concerning 19-year-old males (exactly 19 years old) suddenly (“suddenly”) going bug-fuck insane and causing horrible violent death:
Vancouver natives 19-year-old Kam McLeod and 18-year-old Bryer Schmegelsky, suspected of at least three gruesome deaths and currently fugitives across the Candadian wilderness…
19-year-old California native Santino William Legan, who shot up the Gilroy Garlic Festival and was subsequently killed by police…
Finnegan Lee Elder, 19, and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 18, San Francisco natives on holiday in Italy–suspected of stabbing an unarmed cop to death.
Outside of the ongoing online debate (jfc, people’s fucking “priorities”) as to whether Italians are really “white” (per the Legan case), the basic consensus of a large amount of people regarding these and other similar news items is: white males are dangerous.
I understand where the sentiment “white males are dangerous” comes from. Further: I agree that there is a significant terrorist element of white supremacists and so on in the United States.
Simply repeating over and over again that white males are dangerous & incels are horrible ISN’T GOING TO FUCKING FIX THIS PROBLEM, is it?!
To which someone might reply to me: “well, when it’s a white terrorist, everybody asks about their psychological problems, but when it’s a ‘brown’ terrorist, they’re just evil, right?” –> and yes, I’ve seen this attitude all over the media and such. It’s a double standard, to be sure.
But what I am trying to tell you is: at the core of ANY radicalized young man–from the Middle East, Europe, the United States, Japan, wherever–is a fundamental existential lack of Sense of Self, Sense of Purpose, Sense of Context within the larger community, and, perhaps, maybe even a lack of Sense of (healthy) Masculinity.
And sure: economic pressures may exacerbate this. And certainly, in places like the Middle East and Central America, the legacy of shitty U.S. foreign policy has created instability and resentments that have in turn filled terrorist rosters.
But then you see some young man from an upper-middle-class suburb in the United States go radical and read turn-of-the-century racist anarchic texts and suddenly mow down children at a food festival…you need to get to the deeper issues. And that’s not about having sympathy for this asshole…it’s about trying to solve this fucking horrible problem.
But you see: this whole situation is messy.
Messy, murky, uncomfortable, and ambiguous.
Instead, they have an innate desire to fit everything into: Good vs. Evil.
Any maybe that primal instinct is the correct one…the one that ensures the survival of the species…
Or maybe not.