Progressive magazine New Republic last week published a book review titled "The White Men Who Wanted to Be Victims."
The reviewer, Chris Lehmann, heaps praise upon Joseph Darda's tome, "How White Men Won the Culture Wars: A History of Veteran America," calling it "eye-opening" and an "original and persuasive revisionist study."
Lehmann also gleefully declares that when it comes to "cancel culture, wokeness, and the like," the "loudest and most visible partisans in these battles are aggrieved white men, insisting that they're scapegoats in unhinged identity-driven witch hunts and eagerly putting themselves forward as martyrs in ugly confrontations over free speech."
The central argument is that beginning with the Vietnam War "aggrieved" white men have been playing "a discriminated-against minority" — and among the pop-culture examples is Sylvester Stallone's John Rambo character, particularly in 1985's "Rambo: First Blood Part 2" in which the "aggrieved" Vietnam veteran issues bloody payback against all of his overseas opponents.
Here's how Lehmann puts it:
Stallone's title character is dispatched back to Vietnam on a POW rescue mission and delivers his signature catchphrase in reply to the officer briefing him: "Sir, do we get to win this time?" The movie script also goes out of its way to give the character of Rambo a new ethnic identity that hadn't been referenced in the franchise's debut film or in the novel that formed the basis of the Rambo series: He's made half-Native American. As Darda notes, Rambo's manufactured Indigenous backstory gave a character played by a white actor a way to co-opt a narrative of discrimination: "The white ethnic revival had made white minorities the most American thing of all.… In the 1980s, that meant a white actor starring as a half-Indian soldier—a minoritization that, as simulated rather than embodied, allowed all white men to see themselves reflected in it."
Reaction is brutal
In the aftermath, New Republic posted a tweet Wednesday noting Lehmann's "The White Men Who Wanted to Be Victims" review — and the backlash and ratio-ing has been severe so far. As of Thursday afternoon, the tweet has attracted 964 comments compared to only 42 likes.
Here's what some of the commenters had to say to Lehmann — and in fairness likely to Darda and the New Republic:
- "How dumb and ideology-possessed do you have to be to write something like this?" one user asked. "To even look at the world through this lens? 'Minority.. victim... minority.. victim..' 'Oh you think you're a minority?? You think you're a victim?' They build their whole identity out of it lmao."
- "What is your endgame here? Do you somehow believe that printing negative article after negative article about a group of people that's based on their skin color & gender is going to bring social justice?" another commenter wondered. "Could u imagine writing an article that read 'How black women played victim'?"
- "Ah yes draftees with permanently broken bodies and minds. The truly privileged," another user sarcastically replied.
- "Attacking wounded vets because of their 'whiteness' to own the cons," another commenter observed. "Classy."
- "Because The New Republic believes that white people are so inherently superior they can't be discriminated against or wronged in any way?" another user remarked. "Wow, that's awfully white supremacist of you there guys. And here I thought men of all races were human and capable of suffering."
- "Stupid article based on a false, Hollywood-generated stereotype of Vietnam veterans," another commenter declared. "The facts is, Vietnam veterans don't see themselves as victims. The vast majority lived responsible, post-war lives and were as a group more successful in life than the average American."
- "Hey @lehmannchris More than 2 million young Americans — white, black, brown — were called to serve. Thousands of these brave young men died. You have spit on them, their graves, and their heroism," another user wrote. "F*** you and f*** off."