Commentary

Conservative white men are losing their grip

An evolving America has sent them into panic mode — and they’re lashing out in an ugly way at vulnerable populations

April 11, 2022 7:00 am

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 23, 2022. Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Republicans are angry.

So very, very angry.

Deranged White Man Syndrome has not yet been listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, but it’s just a matter of time.

Seriously, these dudes (and they are mostly male-gendered persons) are on a rampage of rage and loathing which cannot be healthy.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham stormed out of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings twice. He was practically foaming at the mouth, demanding she rate her faith and shouting about Brett Kavanaugh, child molesters, and how Jackson is a Black woman, fine, but she is the wrong kind of Black woman.

To which I say: Get help, son.

J.D. Vance, author of “Hillbilly Elegy,” used to do a decent imitation of a sane conservative. Now he wants to join Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and the rest of the mentally-deformed white boys in the United States Senate, and can be found stomping around Ohio declaring the desperate asylum-seekers at our southern border constitute a way worse problem than genocidal Russians in Ukraine.

‘Not our fight’

One of Vance’s campaign ads intones, “Biden’s open border is killing Ohioans, with more illegal drugs and more Democrat voters pouring into this country.”

Ukraine, he says, is “not our fight.”

Hospitals bombed, civilians executed, children shot, women raped, Western democracy under siege, but hey, who cares? We have these terrifying impoverished brown people yearning to be free and constantly bugging us about it.

Some Republicans detest brown people even more than they love white people, but Black people remain the most loathed object of their racist obsessions.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared during a news conference on Nov. 4, 2021, in the Florida Capitol. Credit: Michael Moline

They hate having to ever hear about slavery or Jim Crow or the Rosewood Massacre  or all those lynchings in Florida. They hate the idea that children might read books by Toni Morrison or James Baldwin or Nikole Hannah-Jones or Ibram X. Kendi, causing white parents to feel a trifle itchy about America’s foundational racism.

Republicans can’t stand seeing Black folks in positions of power (unless it’s Clarence Thomas). Witness Gov. Ron DeSantis’ attempts to destroy two “Black opportunity” congressional districts and pushing bills to make it harder for people of color to vote.

Thinking about how they’ll soon have to address a Black woman as “Justice” probably has them hitting the Coors extra hard.

Fundamentalist minority

Republicans don’t just hate Black women, though. They hate most women.

Not Justice Amy Coney Barrett, of course. She’s the Republican pin-up, white, pretty, a wife, a mother, a religious fanatic. When the Supreme Court rules later this year, she’ll almost certainly vote to destroy reproductive rights in the United States, the dearest wish of the fundamentalist minority. Good girl!

Meanwhile, in Texas, abortion is banned after six weeks. If Oklahoma’s governor signs a new bill (as is likely) doctors performing an abortion will be charged with a felony. In Florida, abortion after 15 weeks likely will be verboten, with no exceptions for rape or incest.

If a high schooler’s future is destroyed by having an unwanted child, or a girl falls deeper into poverty because of a baby she can’t afford to raise, or if women die from backstreet abortions just like in the Good Old Days pre-Roe when men were men and women were ladies, well, that’s the wages of sin.

Republicans shrug: If you’re raped or trafficked, too bad. If the contraceptives fail, that’s your fault. You shouldn’t have been having sex in the first place.

Almost no one should be having sex, except straight white men. Gay sex freaks them out and the thought that gay kids even exist infuriates them so much they’re going the extra mile to be cruel.

Which brings us to Rep. Randy Fine, R-Hell.

This man must get up every morning spitting brimstone, looking for minorities to insult and vulnerable people to hurt.

This man must get up every morning spitting brimstone, looking for minorities to insult and vulnerable people to hurt.

Fine has called schools “cesspools” of “leftist leftism,” Muslims “monsters” and “terrorists,” and called for Palestinians to be annihilated. Democrats are “human feces.”

Harvard, his alma mater, must be so proud.

Tormenting trans kids

Now he’s on a mission to torment trans kids.

Fine pledges to introduce legislation hitting doctors with a “felony child abuse” charge if they provide gender-affirming care and suggests maybe they could lose their medical license to boot.

So, no puberty-blocking drugs for a kid wrestling with their gender; no counseling for gender dysphoria. Evidently the high rate of depression and suicide among trans kids is of no interest to Randy Fine. The crucial social and moral issue of our time is clearly that trans girls be banned from women’s sports.

Or civilization as we know it will crumble.

Republicans, too frightened to confront reality, use the parade of xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, misogynistic, anti-intellectual yahoos provided on Fox “News” to comfort them. Tucker Carlson leads them in the liturgy of Orwell’s “two minutes hate” and, for a little while, they feel better.

Florida state Rep. Randy Fine. Credit: Florida House of Representatives

Then they can go back out in the scary world and do what bullies do: punch down.

Randy Fine recently tweeted his views on gender: “I can say I’m a porcupine, but that doesn’t make it so.”

Too true, Rep. Fine. You are a rodent-like mammal covered in sharp points, but porcupines are intelligent creatures whereas you are a hate-filled, irascible idiot. Beware of Karma: You may one day have a gay child, a trans niece, a brown daughter-in-law.

Living in a constant tantrum must be exhausting for Republicans. I suspect that somewhere in the deep recesses of their brains, they know that while they may hold power at the moment, the world is changing.

And they can’t stand it.

Let’s hope they get serious therapy: This is a sick, sick, sick bunch of people.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Diane Roberts
Diane Roberts

Diane Roberts is an 8th-generation Floridian, born and bred in Tallahassee, which probably explains her unhealthy fascination with Florida politics. Educated at Florida State University and Oxford University in England, she has been writing for newspapers since 1983, when she began producing columns on the legislature for the Florida Flambeau. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Times of London, the Guardian, the Washington Post, the Oxford American, and Flamingo. She has been a member of the Editorial Board of the St. Petersburg Times–back when that was the Tampa Bay Times’s name–and a long-time columnist for the paper in both its iterations. She was a commentator on NPR for 22 years and continues to contribute radio essays and opinion pieces to the BBC. Roberts is also the author of four books, most recently Dream State, an historical memoir of her Florida family, and Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America. She lives in Tallahassee, except for the times she runs off to Great Britain, desperate for a different government to satirize.

MORE FROM AUTHOR