What Carlson was actually doing in “Men in America,” which concluded last week, was offering his version of an explanation of why conditions are dreadful for so many American men. He blamed a combination of immigration, automation, second-wave feminism, the vilification of traditional masculinity, and certain ill-advised government programs. Reasonable people might find his explanation cynical or demagogic. But that’s beside the point. For whether or not he’s right about the reasons why men are facing hard times, Carlson is surely right that they are. Meanwhile, his critics, in a representative stand-in for polite progressive opinion, were content to mock or deny the existence of this state of affairs rather than take a stab at offering an alternative explanation for its causes.
Which of course is why there’s demand for a “Men in America” series at all. Carlson is making an obvious play for what Elliot Kaufman calls the Jordan Peterson demographic: men in their late teens, twenties, and early thirties who are frustrated with the way their lives are going, often for good reason, and eager for someone to recognize their plight and offer a way out.