By Rob Okun
The mid-term elections are just weeks away, so now is the time for men to use our voices to help defeat extremist, antidemocratic candidates. And, inseparable from electoral politics, men must also speak out against the alt-right, violence-glorifying, seditious, insurrectionist group that I propose should rebrand itself as the “Loud Boys.” Of course, we must also vigorously challenge all of their allies, from the Oath Keepers to the Three Percenters.
Just as I believe that anyone paying attention to the current political moment could never in good conscience (or with a straight face) refer to fledgling autocratic candidates as “conservative Republicans”—since say, neither John McCain nor Ronald Reagan, not to mention Richard Nixon, would recognize what their party has become—there is nothing to be “proud” about the behavior of the neofascist group that both Canada and New Zealand have designated as terrorist organizations. (What is the US waiting for?)
Look up the definition of the word “conservative” and it will become immediately obvious that the term no longer applies to what the Grand Old Party has evolved into since 2016. Just as many publications and broadcast outlets have begun weaning themselves from the phrase “climate change” in favor of “climate crisis” or “climate catastrophe,” in referring to the extreme far right, it’s time for the media to refrain from using the term “conservative Republican”—except, of course, if it’s referring to Rep. Liz Cheney.
Although their perspectives may wildly differ, people of a wide range of political persuasions would no doubt agree that we’re in an electoral emergency. The wildfires of hate raging across the country—and the simultaneous drought of truth telling that threatens anyone thirsting for a just society—has made it nearly impossible to breathe the fresh air of democracy.
What can men do? Organize tell-the-truth bucket brigades across the country, from the smallest communities to the largest swing states; everywhere calling out not only the Big Lie but also the local liars.
We can look for inspiration and strategies to the organizing successes of the Women’s March, as well as the women’s movement of the last half-century. Consider what it could mean to stand together: Proud Men as a healthy male counterpoint to dangerous Loud Boys.
Samantha Kutner of the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, an independent think—and do—tank established in the Hague in 2010 to provide multidisciplinary policy advice and practical, solution-oriented efforts to effectively counter terrorism, says the “Loud Boys” believe men and Western culture are under siege. Their description of “Western chauvinism,” she says, is code for white replacement conspiracy theory. theory.
Men would be doing voters a great service by exposing the close ties between extremist candidates and extremist organizations. Especially important would be exposing those candidates who ally themselves with—or are reluctant to disavow, for example—the manifestos of the mass shooters in 2019’s Christchurch, New Zealand mosque; an El Paso, Tex., Wal-Mart, as well as this Spring’s massacre in a Buffalo, NY supermarket. The shooters’ manifestos all decried “white replacement.”
Finally, essential to an organized men’s response to the perils of the present political moment, must be our unequivocal support for women’s reproductive rights. In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, more and more men have recognized that the stakes are simply too high to declare abortion is a “women’s issue.”
In Kansas, it’s believed men in surprisingly high numbers were among the voters who overwhelmingly affirmed women’s bodily autonomy, contributing to the stunning victory for reproductive rights in that state’s referendum earlier this month. These men need to be encouraged to not just identify themselves as supporters of women’s rights, but also to reach out to other men.
If men organize as a gender to help to defeat autocrats, they will be surprised how many allies there are ready to join them. Denouncing the “Loud Boys” is not enough. We need heartfelt, mature “Proud Men” to stand up and step forward. Right now.