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New Left Review I/213, September-October 1995

Fred Pfeil

Sympathy for the Devils: Notes on Some White Guys in the Ridiculous Class War

It seems like another era, though it was less than five years ago, when I was sitting around the Men’s Wisdom Council, grunting Ho with the guys, and studying their hodgepodge, Shake-and-Bake ‘traditions’ for a book I was writing on changing conceptions of white straight men. But now, just as my little political ethnography of the men’s movement has come out, that silly dufus weeping around the campfire with the Native American speaking stick in hand has morphed into the image of the militiaman holding his assault weapon across his chest, those denim cut-offs and raw cotton shirts exchanged for camouflage fatigues, those formerly damp and sensitive eyes transformed into opaque chips glinting out an implacable and vicious rage. For most of what passes for the Left and/or feminist progressive community these days in particular, white men are assumed to be on a rampage against both women and non-white minorities who for the past three decades have been clamouring for the power and rights they deserve. On this view, white men are so many racist, sexist fleurs du mal, self-defined by their lust for power over women and non-whites; and the Washington Post’s Juan Williams had it right when he said the April 19th bombing of Oklahoma City was committed by ‘white men in their natural state’.

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Fred Pfeil, ‘Sympathy for the Devils: Notes on Some White Guys in the Ridiculous Class War’, NLR I/213: £3

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