New course at KU: Angry White Male Studies
The internet exploded with predictable outrage this week when the world learned of a humanities course the University of Kansas plans to offer this fall.
“HUM 365: Angry White Male Studies” will delve into “recent manifestations of male anger” in the United States and Britain.
“This course examines how both dominant and subordinate masculinities are represented and experienced in cultures undergoing periods of rapid change connected to modernity,” the class catalog entry says.
A columnist for the conservative website Gateway Pundit called the class Marxist. Karl, we assume, not Groucho.
U.S. Rep. Ron Estes of Kansas suggested the course offering might violate the law. “KU has decided to offer a class that divides the student population,” he tweeted, “and could pose a Title IX violation by creating a hostile campus environment based on gender.”
Estes and other digital snowflakes should calm down. The fate of the nation does not hang on a single course at KU, even a class aimed at a fuller understanding of just one part of the electorate.
This isn’t a required class, after all. It’s one of hundreds of courses students can take at the university, including humanities offerings that include “Fat, Food and the Body in Global Perspective” or “Being Human in the Workplace.” Humanities students are supposed to examine folkways and culture to better understand the world.
If a student objects to the class, he or she can study something else.
A deep dive into the “angry white male” phenomenon should be instructive and interesting, though. Even conservatives understand the point: In 2016, right-wing pundit Wayne Allyn Root published a book called “Angry White Male.”
“We are marked for attack,” Root writes in the book. “We are marked for extinction. We are the victims of racism.”
It might take a semester of study to fully understand how a conservative such as Root could write those words.
Universities should not shy from teaching controversial subjects. Students should be exposed to a wide range of perspectives and approaches. It’s possible — perhaps likely — that some students in the class will challenge perceived notions about American Caucasian men, who can be angry from time to time. That’s what college is for.
The marketplace of ideas is a real thing. The fact that some people are, um, angry about that proves we need a course like the one at KU.