Yesterday’s News

She put on a brave smile this morning, ate some French toast, and saddled up to go help teach at shul. Pretty Wife made sure our teen was snugly ensconced in her little Toyota, engine fired and seat belt on, before looking away from the window and letting the tears come.

There are no safe spaces for our not-so-little girl.

She’s tall and strong and brave and smart. She regularly knots a well-earned brown belt around her gi. She has prospects in this world. The biggest risk to my youngest daughter is the same as the biggest risk to my eldest daughter.

It’s guys like me.

Cranky, middle-aged, entitled white guys as the archetype of rampage killing aren’t a joke anymore. We’re not setting an example of amused tolerance, or gently rolling our eyes at the silliness of today’s youth. We’re gathering in the no-longer-dark corners of the internet, polishing our vendettas and laughing at the idea of empathy for anyone not quite like us.

Our youngest doesn’t perform duck and cover drills at her school. Today’s organizing fear is the mass shooter, so they drill for the day when some bearded fogy in training (like me; like my friends) pops his cork and decides to crack open his gun safe, lock and load for the last time, and go out in a blaze of gory.

Our eldest daughter also pays close attention to the people around her, especially when she’s in public with her lovely family. That would include her black partner and their tiny offspring, the most achingly beautiful granddaughter a guy like me could ever hope to know. In case you’re wondering, they never worry about being set upon by Antifa. BLM is not on their threat radar.

It’s guys like me.

School kids in New England and Florida, country fans in Nevada, federal office workers in Oklahoma, Sikhs worshiping in Wisconsin — from sea to shining sea, men like me, feeling left out of the future, put our trigger fingers to the task of taking our country back.

It’s guys like me.

We don’t stand together, though. Every time (and there are far too many times) a disgruntled white male bombs a clinic, shoots pretty women in an incel tantrum, empties 9mm magazines into a crowd, or mails out a dozen or so pipe bombs, we predictably fail our obligation to introspection.

We never look inward. We just blame outward. We bury accountability under a thousand excuses, trading our talking points like baseball cards. Within minutes of the news of an attack by a guy like us, we’ve found a dozen ways the poor sap is not like us. We ignore that he voted the way we vote, dressed the way we dress, preferred our own favorite rifle, proclaimed himself a brother in our Christian faith, splashed his angry rhetoric on our own favorite web pages…it doesn’t even matter if we secretly (or not so secretly) think he kinda had a point. We disclaim those losers without a second thought. Dumbass shoul’t’na have got caught.

It’s guys like me.

We don’t stand with our victims. We buttress our awareness against them. On a thousand message boards across red America, otherwise honorable men — veterans, cops, coders, Rotary members — coin terms like “crisis actors” and corrupt terms of art like “false flag operation” to shield our sensitive natures from the gritty truths of our victims. We tell rape victims they’re too ugly to have been attacked. Whistling past the graveyard of known facts, we reassure each other that massacre victims brought it on themselves by not having the right gun on them at the right time — a fantasy belied by the deaths of armed and trained police officers, but we can overlook that if we squint hard enough.

We force false equivalencies, pretending that punching an avowed white supremacist in the side of his carefully trimmed head is the moral equivalent of street beatings, mass killings, and outspoken calls to genocide. Self-shriven in glittering isolation, we who play for the home team deny the simple humanity of our victims: they were faggots, niggers, beaners, kykes. We wallow contentedly in jokes about the bomber being a Democrat plant ’cause ya KNOW if he’d been a Republican, those bombs would have gone off. Ha HAH!

Only guys like me are amused by that. Poor silly-assed libtards can’t even execute a proper mass murder. Funny stuff, huh? Yeah, buddy! Now check out this “ROPE” meme of Obummer…

Yesterday’s guy like me didn’t think President Trump’s derision of immigrants went nearly far enough, so he took it to the next level and decided “all Jews must die” for their sin of advocating for refugees. That killer is the political heir to southern men who murdered Jewish poll workers in the South for their sin of daring to register black voters.

The guys like me who pretend yesterday’s murderer can’t be a guy like us are the philosophical descendants, not of Southern lynch mobs, but of the “many fine people” in 1940s Germany who just didn’t care to know about all that messy business in the camps.

It’s all around us. We built it, tall and proud and unforgiving. We wrote the lyrics and every note of it. We pasted it across the billboard of history. If you don’t see it, if you don’t hear the chorus, it’s because you don’t want to. It’s because you’re pretending it doesn’t sound melodic to you.

This poison of “othering,” fueled by the nearly naked advocacy of our self-identified nationalist leadership, touches us all. Simply running out the short and spindly spokes of my own little family is instructive: today my daughter walked between police officers to enter our synagogue. A dear friend’s family members live within walking distance of the Tree of Life synagogue. I once dated a woman from the Pittsburgh neighborhood where that temple quietly sits, pretending as hard as it can to form a peaceful sanctuary against worldly evil. My wife’s former rabbi, who officiated the marriage of she and her lesbian partner in a time when that was still considered outrageous, assisted at Tree of Life services on Friday night before it was shot up yesterday morning. Those Jews were slaughtered in their own sanctuary, sacrificed to an arrogant hatred, on the day they gathered to perform a naming ceremony and bris.

Next weekend, I’ll attend a christening for my grandbaby. I want to think of that as risk-free family joy — guys like me don’t generally nurse our bloodiest grudges toward Episcopalians — but being a mixed-race baby growing in red cap country is as dangerous in my America as being Jewish in…well, anywhere.

Guys like me like to think of ourselves as competent, even-keeled, savvy fellers. We’re not sensitive snowflakes, hothouse flowers, safe space seekers. If that’s true, why do we rage so virulently at anyone who challenges our place?

Where the hell did our confidence go? When did we become such a pack of entitled pricks? If “they” are challenging us based on merit, it’s time for guys like me to step up our game. The Greatest Generation isn’t coming back to wipe our noses, and we don’t get to claim a shadow credit for the efforts of the Founding Fathers. If an immigrant with limited English skills can steal your job, you suck by any objective standard. Get better, or get out — isn’t that the meritocracy we claim to posit?

I envision middle-aged white guys as bright, energetic men who build moon rockets, infrastructure, and constitutional republics. These days, it seems what we build is pipe bombs and walls. We may hold a white-knuckled grip on literally every lever of American power — including all federal government branches, and the military, and law enforcement, and the media, and academia, and even written history — but that doesn’t stop us whinging about dangerous liberal incursions on our inherited paradise of angry white men.

Nonsense. We run the place, hunnert p’cent. If anyone’s left guys like me behind, it’s because they were more aggressive, more privileged, more successful white guys. Yes, there are plenty of millionaire black athletes and entertainers. They generally work for billionaire white team owners and producers. Who run da world? WHITE MEN RUN THIS WORLD, AND DON’T YOU FORGET IT.

Refugees from the smoking remains of Honduras do not constitute a viable threat to the mightiest military force in the history of human existence. The two percent of America who are Jews don’t secretly manipulate all the world’s finances to your detriment — and those few who do (paging Jared Kushner and Steve Mnuchin…) are working for a guy like me (i.e. Donald Trump).

Most of us learned early not to kick someone when they’re down, yet we take savage delight in kicking the stuffing out of marginalized groups from LGBT to BLM (because how dare those uppity blacks pretend their lives matter?) to Muslims (religious freedom is for US, damn it!) to, once again, Jews.

Wait — is it still Jews’ turn in the bucket? Well, yeah. It’s always a hard week to be Chosen.

Yesterday, following the inconvenience of answering press questions about the temple massacre, our President (a bluff, affable, tough guy like me), stood up at his rally in front of thousands of red-hatted guys like me and joked that he had a “bad hair day.” Also yesterday, millions of his followers made excuses for guys like me.

Today, I sit here, uselessly pouring my rage and fear into a keyboard while I wait for the little Toyota to pull up safe and sound, but even a guy like me — guns, training, education, semi-automatic social status, and experience be damned — can’t just will that to happen. Her safety won’t happen — it can’t happen — without the resolution and kindness and awakening of a lot of other guys like me.

Millions of us, working together as though we cared more about building the future than worshiping the past.

The only way she’ll ever be safe in this world is for us to make everyone safe in this world. That includes funny-lookin’ people. That includes foreigners. That includes humans of ambiguous genitalia, crazy cat ladies, and guys who rock turbans or bike helmets or kilts. You think you feel left out when weirdos press for civil and human rights? Well, brothers of limited melanin, let me just point out the obvious: we’ve been leaving everyone else out for generations, and we were happy to do it.

That’s not a point of pride. That’s where we went wrong. Other people aren’t our pets or our competitors. They’re our species. They’re family. They’re…

…like us.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going back to staring out the window, waiting for one particularly cherished Zioness to come rolling home. Her Sabbath was yesterday. During yours, I’m praying for her safe passage through the world we built, we own, and we run.

Selah.

 

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Comments

  1. Frank E John says:

    “Millions of us, working together as though we cared more about building the future than worshiping the past.

    The only way she’ll ever be safe in this world is for us to make everyone safe in this world…”

    Amen, Brother. Words of wisdom.

  2. Howard Crangle says:

    No one, and I mean no one, writes like this. It would be an injustice if we have to wait for another inevitable massacer to hear from you again.

  3. *Salutes your freek flag and reports for duty*

  4. *Blink*

    *Blink*

    I have so many thoughts and so many feels and so few words to express them. Yet another reason I’m blessed and honored to know you.

  5. Jackie Matlock says:

    Thank you again Jack, for the right attitude, the right words and the ability to put it together and share.

  6. Brad Renton says:

    Incredible piece of work Jack. Like others I am so very proud to know you as you put my feelings and thoughts to words. They are just like me. Just different. It is what makes the world a wonderful and dangerous place. Let us all remember to make the world safe for all. You are all of us. Thank you.

  7. PERFECT!! I’m with everyone posting so far – your writing is incredible, and you said what every other old white man needed to hear. Thank you thank you thank you!! <3. (Btw, I’m picky as hell about my reading. I don’t often give out this kind of abulient praise!)

  8. Sean Brendan-Brown says:

    Hey, Jack!
    Retired Marine here, disgusted not only with the attack on Jews but the senseless attack by an ex-Marine psycho on unarmed, innocent civilians, Wish I’d been there to put him down fast; I’m sick, whenever one of these tragedies happens and makes breaking news, of guessing whether it’s a veteran, always Marine or Army. Coast Guard doesn’t do this shit; Air Force doesn’t do this shit; but our losers from the Cults of Death return home with their broken minds probably weakened since High School and god-damn if the USMC and Army doesn’t train these pieces of shit to REALLY kill. I have no idea what’s going to become of this totally FUBAR nation, I really don’t. Peace out, Brother

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