Not Proud, Boys

It’s time all of us who recognize that manhood and masculinity are evolving speak out about the intimidating alpha males who pose a grave threat to society.

trump, masculinity, white supremacy
Supporters at an “An Address to Young Americans” event, featuring President Donald Trump, hosted by Students for Trump and Turning Point Action in Phoenix, Arizona, on June 23. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

Just days before the presidential election, are men ready to stand up and yell “fire” in the national theater we call the United States? It’s time all of us who recognize that manhood and masculinity are evolving speak out about the intimidating alpha males who pose a grave threat to society—especially at this fraught moment when COVID-19 is ravaging the world. 

In the midst of a pandemic that we are far from “turning the corner” on, how is it possible that so many men feel wearing a mask or maintaining physical distance is a sign of weakness?

Conservative commentator and Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren recently said with a straight face that [Democratic presidential candidate Joe] “Biden might as well carry a purse with that mask“—referring to the former vice president’s discipline in following CDC safety protocols.

I am not only talking about the Beltway Boys and their macho disregard for wearing masks—including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and coronavirus-infected Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee. And I’m certainly not forgetting the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as he huffs and puffs but still—hard as he tries—cannot blow the American house in. (Consider: When being helicoptered from the White House to Walter Reed Medical Center, it’s certainly plausible Trump was overheard quoting Eric Garner and George Floyd gasping, “I can’t breathe.”)

As dangerous as these establishment agents of the state are, we must connect the dots between them and the right-wing foot soldiers who pledge allegiance to the United States of White America. I’m talking about the Proud Boys, the deeply misogynous, neo-fascist and male-only proponents of so-called western chauvinism; the Wolverine Watchmen, the new antigovernment group incensed by pandemic related state lockdowns; the Boogaloo Boys, proponents of a second civil war; and the Aryan Brotherhood, the nation’s oldest major white supremacist prison gang

Notice anything they have in common? Proud boys; Wolverine Watchmen; Boogaloo Boys; Aryan Brotherhood.

How is it possible that once again—just as in scores of mass shootings—few commentators are willing to state the obvious: All the white supremacists in the spotlight are men?

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Now, look at the mug shots of the 13 men charged in connection with the plot to kidnap (and possibly assassinate) Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (as well as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam). On full display is a dangerous, disaffected and alienated group of (white) men primed for violence.  Even from their place on the extreme right-wing of Trump’s battalion of support, their voices can be heard far beyond the Truman Balcony. 

No one should have been surprised that when the president tweeted “Liberate Michigan” six months ago, the Wolverine Watchmen were listening. Indeed, investigators confirmed that at least two of the men arrested in the plot against the governor were among the throng brandishing long guns when they stormed the Michigan state capitol in April demanding Gov. Whitmer “open up the state” in a reckless disregard for the dangers of COVID-19.

Four years ago, after the archaic Electoral College declared Donald Trump would be inaugurated as the 45th president, I wrote, “Sometimes, before a species goes extinct it has a last gasp, a final burst of energy.”  I saw what was happening as both “patriarchy’s last stand and feminism’s next chapter.”

I still believe that, but I also admit that I got a little ahead of my skis. Patriarchy—read: Proud Boys, Wolverine Watchmen and the like—is a wounded animal lashing out; we best be wary. 

No one can afford to stand back and stand by now.

Civil rights mother Fannie Lou Hamer had it right. “You can pray until you faint,” she said, “but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap.”

Conventional and regressive masculinity are on the ballot.

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Rob Okun (, syndicated by PeaceVoice, writes about politics and culture. He is editor-publisher of Voice Male magazine.