The same societal impulses that drive angry white men to right-wing hate groups also push their Muslim counterparts toward violent jihadist movements, according to a sociologist who has studied the corrosive effects of masculinity.
Sociologist Michael Kimmel’s 2015 book, “Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era,” was published before Donald Trump announced his campaign for president, but he told The Guardian that his work predicted his political rise.
“The book doesn’t include the name ‘Trump’ anywhere in it, so my publisher thought it would be a good idea if they reprinted it with a new preface by me that talks about him,” Kimmel told the newspaper. “Essentially, I wrote a book about his followers – for whom the leader hadn’t showed up yet.”
Kimmel is working on another book, due out next year, that focuses on the work of four organizations around the world aimed at getting American and European men out of organized hate groups — whether they’re neo-Nazis or Islamic extremists.
“These are guys that really think that they don’t matter in the world and have been tossed aside,” Kimmel said, evoking Trump’s repeated appeals to the “forgotten man.”
He cited the work of researcher James Gilligan, who argued that shame and humiliation drive nearly all violence in the world.
“In my interviews with extremists, both ‘actives’ and ‘formers,’ I have found time and time again that they have experienced that sense of humiliation and shame,” Kimmel told The Guardian.
Those motivations work for both Islamic extremists who hate the West and the white men who encourage violence against Muslims, he said.
“In his famous statement, Osama bin Laden talked about how the West had humiliated the Muslim world … that conservative Muslims have been humiliated by hyper-modern society and the cosmopolitan McDonaldization of the world,” Kimmel added. “For them, restoring the seventh-century caliphate is their way of reinstating traditional masculinity.”
Kimmel calls this “aggrieved entitlement.”
“If you feel entitled and you have not gotten what you expected, that is a recipe for humiliation,” he said.