The relevance of jerks like Fortgang and Carlson has never been more tenuous--which is why they're whining harder
By Katie McDonough
Call it whatever you’d like. Toxic masculinity. Frat mentality. Patriarchal bullshittery. But put really simply, the problem is that our culture doesn’t generally encourage boys to feel compassion or curiosity beyond a very narrow sphere of their experience, and then some grow up to be terrible jerks.
And the pathetic thing is that a smug and racist editorial written by a college freshman with a tiny baby brain—a piece that should have died on the pages of a college newspaper but was embarrassingly propped up as legitimate commentary by Time magazine—is a comparatively benign example of what happens when boys are raised not to think much about other people.
Epidemic levels of sexual violence on college campuses, the racist misogyny that characterizes so much of fraternity life, the male politicians who spout off about “legitimate rape,” the high school and college football coaches who ignore reports of sexual assault to shield their players from accountability—these are all part of the same problem.
Carlson is basically Fortgang—or the myriad other college baby men that our culture is churning out and protecting—25 years down the road and with a bigger platform. Neither of these guys are really that culturally significant or smart, but what they say and do gets parroted and propped up across the shithead echo chamber of certain parts of the media. Their defenses of the status quo and lazy ideas about how the world works get repackaged as brave truth telling, and they get lionized and rewarded for it. (In the case of Fortgang, this couldn’t be more true. He pretty much emerged from the womb and was promptly booked for an interview with Greta Van Susteren and landed a spot on Time’s homepage.)
That men like Fortgang and Carlson manage to symbolize so much while actually mattering so little is kind of depressing, but the reign of whiny white dudes may be on the decline. People are pushing back really, really hard against their tantrums. They are documenting incidents of misogyny or racism on campus and in the media, and blowing these stories up so the whole country can see them.
The surge in Title IX complaints is probably the most direct example, but the struggle against male entitlement—on campuses and elsewhere—is happening daily in smaller ways, too. The entire reason that Fortgang felt the need to complain about being asked to think about other people—and the advantages that his whiteness, his maleness and his wealth have afforded him—is because his peers are now acting as a check against his tunnel vision. Granted, the plush green lawns of Princeton are still home to a really narrow portion of the population, but at least part of that student body is interested in calling him on his shit.
But this isn't just the whining of white men afraid of losing their privileged positions. No, it's part of the right-wing agenda to enshrine rich white conservatives as the country's rulers:
Conservative Money Front Is Behind Princeton's "White Privilege" Guy
By Adam Weinstein
Today, ISI is a "nonpartisan" non-profit with a $10 million annual budget that astroturfs scores of conservative campus publications across the country, funding them and grooming their staffs to become TV pundits, politicians, and political moneymen. Praised by the likes of Ronald Reagan and Antonin Scalia, it started humbly in 1953 with nothing but an idea and a president: a recent graduate of Yale named William F. Buckley.
The ISI and Collegiate Network have raked in millions of dollars from major conservative financiers over the years, most of it from the coffers of Richard Mellon Scaife, a banking tycoon (yes, those Mellons) who's most famous for bankrolling the conservative witch-hunt against Bill Clinton that led to Whitewater and Monicagate. Scaife's money also helps keep the lights on at the Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, ALEC, and just about every other conservative money-and-opinion laundromat you can name.
What does all that bakshish buy? Quite a lot. Since Buckley's time, the ISI and its Collegiate Network have been responsible for molding much of the right-wing blogosphere. Ann Coulter got her start at the Cornell Review, a CN publication. Dinesh D'Souza cut his teeth writing for the CN-funded Dartmouth Review as an undergrad. "I learned the ins and outs of taking on the far Left as the editor of the Virginia Advocate," current National Review editor Rich Lowry says of his time running a CN-sponsored publication in college.