Book Reviews

Stupid White Men
by Michael Moore

Review by William A. Spriggs, April 27, 2003
Without a doubt, Michael Moore is the sharpest liberal observer in American society today, and fortunately for us, has the resources and willingness to express his opinions loudly and widely. Mr. Moore, is not a scientist educated in the evolutionary perspective, but that does not mean that science can not learn from his observations about American society; some of his views parallel very closely with the studies of Sindanius and Pratto in social psychology found in their book, Social Dominance, An Intergroup Theory of Social Hierarchy and Oppression.

A good part of the book, Stupid White Men, is a liberal's venting exercise concerning America's social inequalities between the rich and the poor, but there are moments when Mr. Moore does shine brilliantly. In chapter four, entitled, Kill Whitey, Mr. Moore sheds light on white America's (the dominants in the social dominance theory) obsession with the black male (part of the subordinate group in the social dominance theory) as a "criminal," and in the quoted passage below, a literary style of role reversing gives us keen insight.

"I don't know what it is, but every time I see a white guy walking toward me, I tense up. My heart starts racing, and I immediately begin to look for an escape route and a means to defend myself. I kick myself for even being in this part of town after dark. Didn't I notice the suspicious gangs of white people lurking on every street corner, drinking Starbucks and wearing their gang colors of Gap Turquoise or J. Grew Mauve? What an idiot! Now the white person is coming closer, closer, closer -- and then -- whew! He walks by with out harming me, and I breathe a sigh a relief."

He then devotes two paragraphs to what he considers the real danger -- and: "Yet as I look back on my life, a strange but unmistakable pattern seems to emerge. Every person who has ever harmed me in my lifetime -- the boss who fired me, the teacher who flunked me, the principal who punished me, the kid who hit me in the eye with a rock, the other kid who shot me with his BB gun, the executive who didn't renew TV Nation (a television show he produced), the guy who was stalking me for three years, the accountant who double-paid my taxes, the drunk who smashed into me, the burglar who stole my stereo, the contractor who overcharged me, the girlfriend who left me, the next girlfriend who left even sooner, the pilot of the plane I was on who hit a truck on the runway, the other pilot who decided to fly through a tornado, the person in the office who stole checks from my checkbook and wrote them out to himself for a total of $16,000 -- every one of these individuals has been a white person! Coincidence? I think not!

I have never been attacked by a black person, never been evicted by a black person, never had my security deposit ripped off by black landlord, never had a black landlord, never had a meeting at a hollywood studio with a black executive in charge, never see a black agent at the film/TV agency that used to represent me, never had a black person deny my child the college of her choice, never been puked on by a black teenage at a MÖtely Crue concert, never been pulled over by a black cop, never been sold a lemon by a black car salesman, never seen a black car salesman, never had a black person deny me a bank loan, never had a black person try to bury my movie, and I've never heard a black person say, 'We're going to eliminate ten thousand jobs here -- have a nice day!'" All quotes above from p. 57.

And those are just Mr. Moore's observations concerning what has personally happened to him in his lifetime; he then turns those observations outward and, once again makes an accurate observation about America overall: "...when I turn on the news each night, what do I see again and again? Black men alleged to be killing, raping, mugging, stabbing, gangbanging, looting, rioting, selling drugs, pimping, ho-ing, having too many babies, dropping babies from tenement windows, fatherless, motherless, Godless, penniless..(If your a political junkie, think of Willie Horton) no matter what city I'm in, the news is always the same, the suspect always is always the same unidentified black male. I'm in Atlanta tonight, and I swear the police sketch of the black male suspect on TV looks just like the black male suspect I saw on the news last night in Denver and the night before in L. A." p. 59.

Well, Mr. Moore, what you have led your readers to is The Subordinate Male Target Hypothesis (SMTH) in social psychology. In a nutshell, the theory means that ALL societies on planet Earth are made up of hierarchies which include two major groups -- dominants and subordinates (which have evolved from evolution and our primate cousins -- but that's another field of study -- evolutionary psychology). The main premise of this scientific observation is that the dominates enjoy many advantages in being in their high ranked-positions -- better access to job opportunities, better neighborhoods, better educational opportunism, better health care, etc., and the subordinates, the exact opposite. Obliviously, one can see the simple advantages for staying "on top" as a dominate; one can also understand the simple motivation to "move up" in rank to acquire those goodies from subordinates. As a result, the dominates will do everything in their power to maintain their position and exclude those "they" consider unworthy of those advantages (The theory argues that there is an biological "fear" present amongst all humans that any subordinate will "steal" valuable resources from the dominate needed to survive if given the chance).

The theory continues to argue that there is "safety" in being with one's own identifiable group and excluding others. It's also faster -- millions of years ago, spilt-second decisions had to be made regarding who was "friend" or "foe" -- and the fastest method is to know the different physical features between your family, tribe, clan, etc, group members (by sight and smell) and any evildoers lurking in the forest (today, we call this "quickness" -- stereotyping). So, the obvious conclusion one reaches regarding discrimination practices of our species today is that those desiring entrance into the dominate ranks must be "select" members from the same elite families, tribe, class, or ethnic group, etc. Well, obviously, we no longer are in the jungle, and as our species evolved, in order for subordinates to be accepted into the dominate hierarchy, they have to become so "non-subordinate" in skin color, body and facial features, mannerisms, and, in our modern society, totally supportive of the political philosophies -- and the social norms in the dominates' world that result from those philosophies -- that they can "pass" as a dominate member. In a sense, they prove their loyalty to the dominates and convince them that they are "not going to steal" resources from the pockets of the dominates, i.e., like black welfare mothers. (Some high-profile subordinates who have "passed" -- Clarence Thomas, Ward Connelly, Linda Chavez, etc.). So, in a sense, Mr. Moore's following observation is only partly correct: "What galls me is that my fellow white people have become so conniving they've figured out a way to turn black people into white people!" p. 68. Despite Mr. Moore's keen observations, he needs to learn here is that this "transformation" is voluntary and universal in ALL SOCIETIES on the planet, not just in America, and not just between whites and blacks; I am not suggesting here that because it is universal, that it makes the outcome politically correct, but that we must truly understand the problem before we can solve the dilemma.

Since Americans have a long tradition of saying great and noble words to characterize our society as being "equal," the dominate elites have shifted their exclusionary mechanisms from obvious, overt acts (i.e., lynching people from the nearest tree) -- to ways that are legal and "politically correct." Social scientists have called these subtle behavioral mechanisms, Legitimizing Myths (social dominance). A perfect example in America, is the public "call for racial equality" (the myth), while dominates of the American ruling el tie privately encourage individuals filing lawsuits that seek "justice" for "reverse discrimination." The myth, of course, is that it appears on the surface that all attempts are being made to create an color-blind society that "treats all equally" while the outcome of lawsuits actually perpetuate the separation between the dominates and subordinates.

Now, these blocking mechanisms are targeted at all individuals considered below the dominants in rank and vary in intensity occurring to the social norms at each longitude and latitude (in evolutionary terminology, this is called "the local environment"). In addition to all the obvious discrimination directed towards "outside" ethnic groups, races, religions, deemed "inferior," the discriminatory process also seems to include all women -- even women considered to be part of the high-ranking elites in power-- unless, of course, they observe the "submissive" role of "supportive" spouse to the dominate male. But even within this group, evidence exists that show discrimination practices further divide the subordinate female from the dominate females who usually are of color. But it is the males of the subordinate groupings who get the worse treatment. That is because they are the ones most capable of physical violent acts (based on our evolutionary past of strength and domination to determine ranking within a group) which could "overthrow" the current rank of the male elites (Stupid White Men). Hence, these subordinate males need to be "targeted" the most carefully. That is why Mr. Moore sees the "same subordinate male suspect" of a crime committed on television in Atlanta, Denver, and Los Angeles.

In Chapter Seven, entitled, The End of Men, the author leads his readers to an extremely important observation that everyone on the planet should become alarmed about and should have general knowledge. The author leads off with observations concerning his family and immediate friends and concludes that there is a distinct unequal ratio of more females being born than males. I quote from the book:

"In the early years of Man, we served a critical and necessary function in the growth of the species. We hunted and gathered the food, protected the women and children from larger animals conspiring to eat them, and helped the number of Homo sapiens multiply rapidly through a lot of random, unrestricted sex. It been downhill for us ever since.

In the past few centuries, things seem to have taken a fatal turn for our gender. As is our wont, we commenced work on a series of projects that stunk everything up and made a mess of our world. Women? They deserve none of the blame. They continued to bring life into this world; we continued to destroy it whenever we could. How many women have come up with the idea of exterminating a whole race of people? None that I've met at the gym. How many women have spilled oil in the oceans, dumped toxins in our food supply, or insisted that the new SUV designs had to be bigger, bigger, BIGGER? Hmmm. Let me see..." p. 145.

The conclusion that the author reaches is that Mother Nature, in her infinitie wisdom, has noticed the willful destruction of our delicate ecosystem by the male and has decided to eliminate the problem through producing fewer male babies. Well, OK, I'm a person that recognizes that there is a great force out there that we mere mortals do not understand; but I consider myself a little bit more educated than the Joe Six Pack, and I want a more detailed answer behind the fuzzy concept of logical, yet mysterious forces acting out within the cosmos.

My only dissatisfaction with Mr. Moore's argument is that it leaves me hungry for a more detailed explanation. If his arguments included a more information regarding the inner workings of the human reproductive system, and in particular, the human embryo, then perhaps he could have convinced conservative critics that it takes enormous effort to produce a male while inside the female's reproductive system after the "male producing" Y chromosome has been planted into the female egg. To his credit, however, Mr. Moore has set off an alarm bell that something is seriously wrong with our planet's ecosystem, and this subject needs broader exposure.

I usually don't make direct quotes from another source when I do book reviews, but because Mr. Moore has made an extremely important observation, I will make an exception because the knowledge should be shared. The following are excerpts from Gender: Psychological Perspecitvies 2nd Edition, by Linda Brannon, 1999, Allyn and Bacon, Boston. The quote comes from the chapter entitled: Hormones and Chromosomes, p. 49:

"Within the first six weeks of prenatal development, no difference exists between male and female embryos, even in their gonads. (Yes, Mr. Moore, all males do have a "feminine" side)...both male and female embryos have a Woffian system, which has the capacity to develop into the male internal reproductive system, and a Mullerian system, which has the capacity to develop into the female internal reproductive system. During the third month of prenatal development, two things typically happen to fetuses with the XY chromosome pattern that furthers the developing male pattern...The first involves the production of androgens, which begin to be produced by the fetal testes during this period. The presence of androgens stimulates the development of the Wolffian system. The growth of the testes further increases production of testosterone, which further stimulates development along the lines of the male pattern. The second event that prompts male development is the production of Mullerian-inhibiting substance, which causes the Mullerian system to degenerate...Therefore, one type of secretion prompts the wolffian system to develop into the male internal reproductive organs, and the other causes the female Mullerian system to degenerate...Therefore, one type of secretion prompts the Wolffian system to degenerate. One action produces a masculinization and the other a defemininization of the the developing fetus, and both actions produce male internal reproductive organs in the fetus...The development of the female reproductive system requires no surge of fetal hormones."

Now would be the great place for Mr. Moore's perspective humor: Perhaps, if Mother Nature knew that she had to go through all that effort to produce a male that won't bother to lift the toilet seat, then perhaps she would give chemical instructions to the female egg not to open the door and accept any Y chromosomes in the first place. Is the extra chemical effort required to produce males in the embryo getting the message that it's not worth getting out of bed? Or, how about this for a logical argument? Perhaps the male sperm of our species that carries the Y chromosome that produces males has been so weakened by sucking up food additives, pesticides, industrial emissions, and inhaling the exhausts from following the SUV in front of them that the extra "umph" needed by the male sperm to break into the tough female casing surrounding the egg is missing or greatly reduced. Are there any studies that have indicated that the sperm count of the American males is decreasing??? (sperm competition) If sperm count drops dramatically, the sperm environment reduces vigorous competition, and could produce sperm that is less robust. Does this affect the "umph" needed for that extra push into the egg casing? Are the male sperm found in American males' testes turing into -- "wuzzies?"

The book, Stupid White Men, is obviously not a search for evolutionary knowledge, and as such, does not make my recommended reading list. But the book does represent the strong protests of a man with strong convictions declaring that something is just not right with the world, and in particular, with his beloved America. For that alone, I stand by Mr. Moore's side in his quest for truth, justice, and the true American way of life.

Assuming of course that Mr. Moore is too busy to go back to college for advanced studies, then perhaps he should established a liberal think tank that provides grants to graduate students that do his homework for him; perhaps then, when he embarks on his quest to help the common person, his grievances will have science as the dagger that plunges into the real evildoers.

Don Quixote just needs a bigger lance -- and it should be science.

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