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DON'T SCAPEGOAT `ANGRY WHITE MALES'

I AM AN ANGRY WHITE MALE.

Why? Because I am fed up with the media hype, the pundits and others who attribute the current political and social climate of the country to some ill-defined lumpen proletariat group of white men who were putatively responsible for the Republican ascension in Congress and who are, in some mysterious way, charting the course of our society.Time for a reality check. Voter turnout in the 1994 elections was close to an all-time low - something on the order of 37 percent.

It is commonly accepted political wisdom that when voter participation is low, the dedicated, whatever their cause may be, tend to swing the result. A 37 percent turnout is not a "mandate" by anyone's definition. Rather, it is a sign of "tune out, turn off and drop out," as the '60s phrase went. After all, Bill Clinton won the presidency with 43 percent of the vote, and he sure doesn't have a mandate.

More important, white men are getting bad-rapped for every negative social and political attitude that exists.

To hear so-called experts tell it, we are opposed to affirmative action, women's opportunity (lib, if you will), immigration, taxation, the federal government, environmentalism, clean water, product liability laws, the FDA and who knows what else. Maybe Mom and apple pie are next.

What really is happening is the world as we knew it is going through tremendous and rapid change. Nobody likes change, especially when it affects his livelihood - white males included.

As a white male who grew up in middle- to lower-middle-class economic circumstances in California, I was the beneficiary of being white, attending a public school system that worked and having an immediate family that, to my recollection, never used pejoratives to describe people of different races or religious beliefs - not that I didn't hear this kind of thing from others, including relatives.

I just never heard it in my home. My mother worked (because she had to) long before "women's liberation" was invented. I managed to go to college (Ivy League, no less) on a combination of scholarship assistance and part-time work. My white-male anger can best be summed up in a question former Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun asked in a speech given to law students:

"Are you concerned about your country, about the seeming lack of outstanding leadership on so many levels these days? Are you concerned that so many of those to whom we ought to able to look up to turn out to have feet of clay?

"Are you concerned about the seeming deterioration of moral values, about the failure of the family, and the schools and the synagogues and the churches to lead and to show the way? Are you concerned about what seems to be a lessened sense of integrity?"

Yes, Justice Blackmun, I am. I am one angry white male.