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White Supremacy + Male Chauvinism = Conservative White Males

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) June 11, 2013: On June 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy went on prime-time evening television to deliver a hastily arranged speech about the black civil rights movement. In his speech Kennedy for the first time characterized the black civil rights movement as a "moral issue."


In an op-ed piece in the New York Times titled "Kennedy's Finest Moment," Peniel E. Joseph, an African American history professor at Tufts University, commemorates and celebrates Kennedy's speech.


That morning, President Kennedy had used the forces at his disposal to stand down Governor George Wallace in his effort to block the integration of the University of Alabama. No doubt Kennedy mustered sufficient moral courage to stand down Wallace and then go on television to endorse the black civil rights movement as a moral issue.


However, to this day, the conservative movement engages in strident anti-1960s rhetoric that seems to enshrine the 1950s as the good old days -- before the black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s helped advance desegregation.


In addition, the strident anti-1960s rhetoric of the conservative movement is aimed at attacking the women's movement that emerged in the late 1960s.


In another op-ed piece in the New York Times titled "Sexism's Puzzling Stamina," columnist Frank Bruni discusses the issue of gender in American culture today.


Now, in the 1950s, white supremacy and male chauvinism were two strong struts, as it were, in forming the identity of white American males. For this reason, the strident anti-1960s rhetoric of the conservative movement should alert us to the underlying masculine identity crisis of American males.


In Walter J. Ong's short and accessible book FIGHTING FOR LIFE: CONTEST, SEXUALITY, AND CONSCIOUSNESS (Cornell University Press, 1981), the published version of Ong's 1979 Messenger Lectures at Cornell University, Ong argues that males need to work out a specifically masculine sense of identity.


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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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