Let me explain something to you

Here’s my March column for the Holland Sentinel…

I’m fed up with old white men. A few old white women too, but that’s a different story. Let me stay with old white men for a few minutes.

Hardly a day goes by when I’m not embarrassed by old white men. Listen carefully, because I’m not going to say this again, which is something old white men like to say. I know, because I am one. I like to explain things, especially obvious things, because those are the things we old men like to talk about. But listen anyway. Don’t even try to stop us from saying whatever is on our minds. We can talk louder than you.

Half of the Democratic presidential candidates are old white men, and they’re embarrassing. All of them. Someone had to say it. I wish all of them would retire, move to Florida, live in a gated community, and play golf. Bernie Sanders says that he doesn’t play golf, so I don’t know where he should go. But just go away, please. Let a few of the younger candidates have a chance. I mean, it’s not as though the old guys have such great track records. The old white men are using up way too much oxygen to apologize for things they either said or did over the years.

Being gracious, I’m willing to forgive them, but they need to move along.

And then there’s the Republican candidate for 2020. He’s an old white man too, even though he pretends he’s not, with that fake tan and orange hair and young wife. He isn’t fooling anyone. He’s had his chance. Now, it’s time to move along, please. He’ll be as old as Joe Biden is now, if he completes a second term. And that’s too old.

I’ve been feeling this way for a long time, long before I became an old man. In 1972, when George McGovern was running for president, he said, “I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” I cheered when I heard him say it, even though I thought he was pretty old at the time. But then all the other candidates who ran in the primaries that year were old white men too. In those days we never had other options.

Richard Nixon, who won the Republican nomination that year, carried 49 states and all but 17 electoral votes, so most people must have been satisfied with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in. I wasn’t satisfied, but I was a young man then, and no one was listening to me.

Old white men ran most things back then, and you might think that times have changed. But old white men still run most things. They dominate government, business, finance, real estate, and the world of technology (Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon, the four trillion-dollar companies). I might as well have included the church too, though that’s not an industry, with some notable exceptions.

Here’s the astonishing thing. With all of that dominance, guess which group in America feels discriminated against? Well, to be fair, lots of groups feel that way, but one group that I wouldn’t expect to hear so much complaining from is, you guessed it, old white men.

According to a recent NPR/Robert Wood Johnson/Harvard poll, 55 percent of white men in the U.S. say they feel discriminated against. Old white men are suffering, no doubt about it. We’re getting our hats handed to us by women and people of color. We’re losing. You wouldn’t know it from the debate stage at the recent Democratic presidential debates but, trust me, it’s true. What’s rightfully ours is being taken from us.

I wasn’t going to mention this, but I’m also embarrassed by a lot of old white men who aren’t politicians. Harvey Weinstein comes to mind. It’s pretty bad when dozens of women—over 80 women in the film industry alone—come forward to accuse you of rape, sexual assault and sexual abuse, which allegedly took place over the course of 30 years. And even then, the jury was able to find him guilty of only two of five charges.

Sadly, Harvey Weinstein is not alone. Think of Matt Lauer, Tony Robbins, Garrison Keillor, Les Moonves, Brett Kavanaugh, Charlie Rose, Mark Halperin, Bill O’Reilly, Steve Wynn, James Levine, Al Franken, Louis CK, Roger Ailes, Jeffrey Tambor, Kevin Spacey, among others. Not all of these men have admitted guilt, and several have strongly denied the accusations. One, Roger Ailes, has died and is unable to defend himself. And a few of those who have been credibly accused of serious sexual misconduct are not white men.

Still, there’s a pattern. And I’m fed up with it. Do you need me to say it again, a little louder this time?

Update: Since this column was written, both Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg have dropped out of the presidential race.

About Doug

I have been a writer ever since fifth grade when I won second prize in a “prose and poetry” contest. I am also a Presbyterian pastor, and for several years toward the end of my career I lived and worked in Zürich, Switzerland. I am now retired and live just north of Holland, Michigan, along the lake.

15 Responses to Let me explain something to you

  1. Janet Magennis March 4, 2020 at 10:45 am #

    Preach it, brother. Keep writing!

  2. Linda Strodtman March 4, 2020 at 10:52 am #

    Well said but that leaves us with the choice this year of “Old White Men’. We have yet to elect for President a woman even a white woman let alone a woman of color. We evidently had problem with a younger white man, likely because of his sexual preference status, even though he spoke with clarity, integrity and expertise. A lot has to change in our societal values and certainly with our societal ethics. I hope I see it happen in my lifetime.

  3. Jürg Kessler March 4, 2020 at 2:11 pm #

    Well said Doug!! Of course I am an old white man as well but I still agree. On the other hand Nancy Pelosi is not that young any more either :):):) I guess Swiss politicians are getting tired earlier. Our present (for 1 year) president of the Bundesrat is I think 66 and also the oldest.
    Keep writing (and being angry!!)

    • Doug March 4, 2020 at 3:56 pm #

      Good to hear from you, Jürg. I was hoping a fellow old white man would chime in (and agree with me). I miss the Swiss government with its presidents who stood on the train platform in the morning, along with everyone else, waiting for a ride to work.

  4. Mary Steensma March 4, 2020 at 3:29 pm #

    I just keep hoping that one of those old white men (not the orange one) will have the decency to pick a young woman…maybe even one of color.. to be his VP

  5. Bob Young March 4, 2020 at 5:52 pm #

    Nice Doug….agree completely. One additional thought is the apathy of younger generations that allow old, grumpy white men (and women) to be in the positions of politics where they are.

  6. Thomas W. Blair March 4, 2020 at 9:05 pm #

    well done, as usual.. but you could have nudged us along— to old Black men, who have a unique wisdom, for example….

    • Doug March 4, 2020 at 9:17 pm #

      Well, there’s always next month. But a good rant feels good sometimes.

  7. Michael Putt March 5, 2020 at 8:43 am #

    However, it is notable, as Rush has pointed out, that it is the Democratic Party that has rejected, as their candidate, women, young gay, black. So, I think the criteria is; I am looking out for myself, if they are going to give me all I want free, but they are old white men, then so be it.

    • Doug March 5, 2020 at 9:08 am #

      Thanks for quoting an old white man to make your point! Good to hear from you, Mike, and thanks for reading.

  8. Marion Robbins March 5, 2020 at 3:24 pm #

    You are so right, but in the meantime it might be wise to lay low for a while. On the other hand, this may not be necessary as old white men are a bit shaky, have poor vision and can’t run very fast!

  9. Agnes Kenton March 5, 2020 at 11:00 pm #

    How did you get all that I have thought down on paper so well??? I know you are the writer and I am not. It is terrible to contemplate the results of the election this year.
    What does the future hold? Of course. those of us that are really old probably don’t have long to suffer the outcome. Our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will be left with that burden.

  10. Susan March 6, 2020 at 8:47 am #

    Great blog! Question though, your line about things “being taken” from “old, white men”? What was meant? Not sure I followed that point! Thanks!

    • Doug March 6, 2020 at 11:05 am #

      Thanks, Susan. To many men these days it feels as though something is being taken from us. In other places this has been called “male privilege.” To men, though, it doesn’t feel like privilege; it feels like something we ought to have because we’ve always had it. Hope that helps.

  11. Andrea Schewe March 7, 2020 at 9:56 am #

    Some old white men become generous and philanthropic. Carnegie, Stewart Mott, Joy Morton. Read some Erik Erickson stages of man. I agree however, some just become boring and hard to be around.