Unplanned

The Federalist (and others) tell us that the film Unplanned is far outperforming expectations, and that is very good. If you happened to miss it, which would not be hard since there is a media blackout, including most TV networks refusing advertising, Twitter sabotaging its account, and what looks like a malicious R rating, it is the story of a director of a Planned Parenthood clinic whose interaction with a prayer vigil group, and witnessing the attempts by an unborn child to avoid being aborted, eventually brought her to become a stalwart pro-life witness.

It’s a story we have told before, here. In fact, my former co-blogger was personally involved in one of those stories. She told her story here, and here is a bit of it.

A few weeks ago a friend of mine had a knock on the door of the vicarage where he lives. It was a young woman. She was pregnant and did not want to be. She could not get an immediate appointment with a doctor or a medical social worker, or even the counsellor she was seeing at the abortion clinic; she’d heard that you didn’t need an appointment to see a vicar – so there she was. She’d never been to church and admitted she didn’t know what ‘it was all about’, but she needed an ear. My friend listened to her for about an hour. He did not try to influence her against her will, but to discern that will. She was clearly confused and in some desperation.  After the hour, she left, thanking him.

We heard nothing more until Friday evening, when she telephoned to say she was going to have an abortion the next day; she asked if he would come to see her on Sunday. He asked if he could bring a friend – me, as he felt a woman might help in the situation; she said that would be fine.

I posted about her on my own site and asked people to join me in prayer for her. Most of those commenting did so, although there was one poster who thought we ought to be telling her what a dreadful sinner she was, although, since she knew not the Lord, it is hard to know what she would have made of that. We went, wanting to be there to extend compassion to her, and to do whatever the Lord wanted.

When we went into her small flat, it was clear that she was depressed – it was like a huge cloud over her. She told us that she had been counselled about all the medical things, and the side-effects, but she had never felt so empty and so ‘wrong’. She cried, and it was hard to know what to do, so I held her hands. I asked if she’s mind if we said a prayer, and through her tears she said she didn’t really mind, though couldn’t see it would help. The three of us held hands and I asked God to have mercy on the three sinners in the room, and to grant His grace to the dead child. The room filled with light. We all felt the same thing. She gasped. We sat in silence, holding hands for as long as was needed.

As he light faded, I asked her how she felt. She said: “As though God has spoken to me saying that I should go and sin no more,” I asked if she knew where those words came from, and she laughed and said “I’ve just told you, God told me.” I said I knew, I had heard them too, but did she know they had been said before? She asked what I was talking about, so I told her about the woman taken in adultery. She got very serious: “But I thought you Christians would condemn such a slut – and one like me, but you haven’t, and God loves me.” We all cried.

Back when Jessica first told me this story, I sat here crying as well. From things she told me in confidence, I am very sure that that young woman would not have lived a week, she would, I will always believe, have committed suicide. Instead, she is now married to the vicar in the story, happily, I hope. I haven’t heard in quite a while.

Christians were known from the very beginning for their quite obdurate insistence on raising their children, not following the common Roman practice of leaving the unwanted ones to die of exposure. It is one of the reasons Christianity spread so far and so fast.

And now we see politicians who openly advocate the old Roman practice once again, but we also see these little groups of Christians who pray and are kind to all around Planned Infanticide Planned Parenthood. It has caused the baby killers in Britain such fear that they have attempted to use the law to remove the prayer groups.

But like those attempting to stifle the film, well, God has His ways, and He will prevail.

And The Spectator reminds us that there is nothing Feminist about this either. Susan B. Anthony a legendary and genuine fighter for women’s rights’ wrote this:

She must feel herself accountable to God alone for every act, fearing and obeying no man, save where his will is in line with her own highest idea of divine law.… When the mother of Christ shall be made the true model of womanhood and motherhood, when the office of maternity shall be held sacred and the mother shall consecrate herself, as did Mary, to the one idea of bringing forth the Christ-child, then, and not till then, will this earth see a new order of men and women, prone to good rather than evil.

Here’s the trailer, but see the film.

Winning the Identity Sweepstakes, and Losing It

Professor Lipscomb

Professor Suzannah Lipscomb of  the University of Roehampton recently wrote:

Fed up with women’s lib being thrust at the public.’ This was a comment by a visitor to the We Are Bess exhibition at the National Trust’s Hardwick Hall, for which I was creative director and which I’ve mentioned before in this column. This rather curmudgeonly view is not shared by many: the vast majority of visitors have enjoyed it, thought it ‘interesting’, ‘moving’, ‘engaging’, ‘uplifting’; some 77 per cent so far say they would recommend the exhibition to others and 91 per cent feel that they learnt something new about the past or present. Many were delighted that the Trust had staged such a contemporary exhibition, which felt relevant and resonated with current issues. But this lone comment has stayed with me because it tells us something about the zeitgeist: both that ‘women’s lib’ or – more accurately – women’s achievements and lives – are something that many people are now interested in and that, for some, this feels like the lives of the other half are being ‘thrust’ upon them.

Read it all here, but it pretty much looks to me like some combination of virtue signaling and identity politics, not to mention generic whingeing. Not unusual in academia of course, and even less unusual amongst women on the BBC. In any case, most of the Britons I know, are completely fed up with the National Trust for its pandering to the SJWs, as indeed I would be as well. PC run amok, most of them say. Not as bad as the BBC, but working on it.

Jonathon Pearce quotes on Samizdata, Mohamed Ali, on Quillette:

“The dangerous and sectarian practice of prescriptive racialism is an outgrowth of an insistence that we think of people not as individuals but as representatives of groups — we speak of “the Arab experience” as if it were a uniform phenomenon. In a world in which groups are considered more important than people, it was inevitable that we would forfeit the ability to think in terms of unique human beings, each of whom may fall into several categories, but who are ultimately self-made characters. We should remember that the important features of an individual are what they choose to be and not the identities they happen to have inherited.”

That is always the problem with trying to figure out groups, other than perhaps self-selected groups, such as perhaps SAS troopers, the commonality of experience is lacking. I like Professor Lipscomb and I like her work, but I wonder if a contemporary London based female historian has that much in common with Tudor women, let alone the victims of Jack the Ripper. Sure she probably has more in common with them than I do, at least anatomically, but I suspect each of the three sees the world quite differently, as indeed I do. We can and should try to overcome that and have empathy for all actors, but it is not the easiest thing to do.,

R.S. McCain has a question. Here’s the background.

The man accused of kidnapping and murdering a woman who got into his car thinking it was her Uber ride had activated the child locks in his backseat so the doors could be opened only from the outside, police in South Carolina revealed.
Nathaniel David Rowland , 24, was charged Saturday in the death of 21-year-old Samantha Josephson, a University of South Carolina student from Robbinsville, New Jersey. Rowland decided not to appear at a hearing in Richland County jail Sunday.
Rowland is charged with kidnapping and murder, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said. . . .
Investigators would not say what they thought Rowland did to Josephson from the time she got into his black Chevrolet Impala in Columbia’s Five Points entertainment district around 1:30 a.m. Friday until her body was dumped in woods off a dirt road in Clarendon County about 65 miles away.

Not all that often that the police are all that reticent about what was done to a crime victim, in my experience, and that leads to the question. Why are the feminists not raising even more noise about this undoubted victim, than about Creepy Uncle Joe being a bit touchy-feely for the last two score years without complaint? Here is a picture of the victim and the alleged perp, see if you can figure it out.

See how these three sort of disparate stories connect? In all three, people are not paying attention to individuals but only members of the various groups. Why on earth should we feel more sympathy for the victims of a nineteenth-century murderer in London than for a twenty-first-century victim of a murderer in Columbia, South Caroline, let alone a bunch of Tudor women who may (or may not) have gotten all the respect the deserved, documented for historians convenience, or not.

As we keep saying there is little new under the sun, back in 1909 Rudyard Kipling had some thoughts in A City of Brass that seem to be spot on to the whole mess.

In a land that the sand overlays – the ways to her gates are untrod –
A multitude ended their days whose gates were made splendid by God,
Till they grew drunk and were smitten with madness and went to their fall,
And of these is a story written: but Allah Alone knoweth all!

When the wine stirred in their heart their bosoms dilated.
They rose to suppose themselves kings over all things created –
To decree a new earth at a birth without labour or sorrow –
To declare: “We prepare it to-day and inherit to-morrow.”
They chose themselves prophets and priests of minute understanding,
Men swift to see done, and outrun, their extremest commanding –
Of the tribe which describe with a jibe the perversions of Justice –
Panders avowed to the crowd whatsoever its lust is.

Swiftly these pulled down the walls that their fathers had made them –
The impregnable ramparts of old, they razed and relaid them
As playgrounds of pleasure and leisure, with limitless entries, 
And havens of rest for the wastrels where once walked the sentries;
And because there was need of more pay for the shouters and marchers,
They disbanded in face of their foemen their yeomen and archers.
They replied to their well-wishers’ fears – to their enemies laughter,
Saying: “Peace! We have fashioned a God Which shall save us hereafter.
We ascribe all dominion to man in his factions conferring,
And have given to numbers the Name of the Wisdom unerring.”

They said: “Who has hate in his soul? Who has envied his neighbour?
Let him arise and control both that man and his labour.”
They said: “Who is eaten by sloth? Whose unthrift has destroyed him?
He shall levy a tribute from all because none have employed him.”
They said: “Who hath toiled, who hath striven, and gathered possession?
Let him be spoiled. He hath given full proof of transgression.”
They said: “Who is irked by the Law? Though we may not remove it.
If he lend us his aid in this raid, we will set him above it!
So the robber did judgment again upon such as displeased him,
The slayer, too, boasted his slain, and the judges released him.

As for their kinsmen far off, on the skirts of the nation,
They harried all earth to make sure none escaped reprobation.
They awakened unrest for a jest in their newly-won borders,
And jeered at the blood of their brethren betrayed by their orders.
They instructed the ruled to rebel, their rulers to aid them;
And, since such as obeyed them not fell, their Viceroys obeyed them.
When the riotous set them at naught they said: “Praise the upheaval!
For the show and the world and the thought of Dominion is evil!”
They unwound and flung from them with rage, as a rag that defied them,
The imperial gains of the age which their forefathers piled them.
They ran panting in haste to lay waste and embitter for ever 
The wellsprings of Wisdom and Strengths which are Faith and Endeavour.
They nosed out and digged up and dragged forth and exposed to derision
All doctrine of purpose and worth and restraint and prevision:

And it ceased, and God granted them all things for which they had striven,
And the heart of a beast in the place of a man’s heart was given. .

Riding to the Sound of the Guns; Defending Men

I’d guess that by now you’ve all heard of the American Psychological Association’s guidance for treating boys and men. No, I haven’t read it, nor do I intend to. Most of what I’ve heard is intensely negative, making ‘pure crap’ sound like a compliment. Plus I’m a technical, engineering type guy, you know, yes or no, right or wrong.works or doesn’t work, ‘0’ or ‘1’. If it’s not absolutely right, it’s completely wrong. I’m mostly digital, not analog, although I do tend to have quite a lot of empathy for the fixes people get themselves into. Been there, done that. I still sort of believe the engineering school definition of psychology: “Nuts and S**ts. Deal with it, that’s the sort of guy I am.

But I’m not everybody, and more and more I notice a lot of young guys (girls too) seem a bit screwed up, so maybe somebody should help them and I’m very likely not that guy, so maybe psychologists do have a place. But I don’t think these guidelines, or at least what I’ve read about them, are helpful.

Quillette Magazine reached out to 12 well-known practitioners (some I’ve even heard of, and even read some of their stuff). What they said is about as balanced as I’ve seen. And it is interesting. A few excerpts follow. much more at the link.

Introduction — John P. Wright, Ph.D.

Thirteen years in the making, the American Psychological Association (APA) released the newly drafted “Guidelines for Psychological Practice for Boys and Men.” Backed by 40 years of science, the APA claims, the guidelines boldly pronounce that “traditional masculinity” is the cause and consequence of men’s mental health concerns. Masculine stoicism, the APA tells us, prevents men from seeking treatment when in need, while beliefs rooted in “masculine ideology” perpetuate men’s worst behaviors—including sexual harassment and rape. Masculine ideology, itself a byproduct of the “patriarchy,” benefits men and simultaneously victimizes them, the guidelines explain. Thus, the APA committee advises therapists that men need to become allies to feminism. “Change men,” an author of the report stated, “and we can change the world.”

But if the reaction to the APA’s guidelines is any indication, this change won’t happen anytime soon. Criticism was immediate and fierce. Few outside of a handful of departments within the academy had ever heard of “masculine ideology,” and fewer still understood how defining traditional masculinity by men’s most boorish—even criminal—behavior would serve the interests of men or entice them to seek professional help. Instead of passing quietly into the night, as most academic pronouncements do, the APA’s guidelines did what few such documents have ever done: They engendered a social media maelstrom, and likely not only lost professional credibility, but potentially created new barriers for men who need help. […]

We are heartened by the criticism that emerged from the APA’s guidelines. Why? Because we don’t believe that most of the backlash resulted from crass political motives. Instead, much of it was rooted in a deep concern about men and boys. The culture wars have not been kind to men, and data from an assortment of surveys tell us that boys and men are not thriving. Documents can be edited, but goodwill is a commodity no one should erase. If the APA is truly concerned about the mental and emotional health of men, it will recognize the goodwill and constructive intent underpinning much of the criticism, and consider the feedback as a starting point for a broader and more productive discussion of how to most effectively provide successful treatment for boys and men.

A sample from one contributor.

Who Will Mount Up and Ride to the Sound of the Guns? — B. Christopher Frueh, Ph.D.

The APA’s latest manifesto is an embarrassment to the discipline of psychology. It is an abdication of scientific responsibility, denying biological and evolutionary realities in favor of a progressive fantasy pushed by “social justice” and “feminist” ideologies. It is harmful to all members of our society and dangerous to our national security. Masculine qualities like rugged individualism, courage, stoicism, ambition, and a willingness to protect and sacrifice for others helped secure the freedom and prosperity that so many now take for granted.  

At a time when many academics are virtue-signaling by whining about “toxic masculinity,” taking offense at every imagined “microaggression,” and listing their “pronouns” in their email signature blocks, we should ask where does this line of absurdity end? Perhaps the next APA manifesto will seek to abolish religion, athletics, heterosexual marriage, eating meat, etc. Whatever happened to common sense? And where does this take us? Will we next ban books, movies, and podcasts by people named Ernest Hemingway, Clint Eastwood, or Jocko Willink?

OK, I’m not neutral in this fight, and Dr. Frueh says what I think, so I featured him here. That makes neither him nor me correct, but he damn sure raises a valid question. Read the whole thing, I found that each of the 12 contributors has something valuable to add. None of this is simple. I can’t speak for you, of course, but often I wonder exactly why I think, speak, or write as I do. Dr. Frueh also quotes one of my favorite authors, and it is important that we keep it in mind as we move forward. Remember, life is movement, if we’re not moving forward, we are slipping back.

“We make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”

—C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man (1943)

Saddle Up!

 

Culture Wars

Daniel Oliver writing in The Federalist has a question for us. Where has all the culture gone? Where indeed. Let’s see what he’s on about, shall we?

From the New York island to the Redwood forest, Western Civilization continues to collapse, gradually now, but soon, maybe, suddenly. For now, only a relatively small band of traditionalists are manning the gates against the cultural nihilists. And, of course, manning is the right word. Once upon a time, hand-to-hand combat was not thought to be women’s work: if the women were killed in battle, who would take care of the children?

Assuming there are any children. About 800,000 babies are aborted each year in the US. Given that about 39 percent of those babies are black but that blacks are only 12 percent of the population, why isn’t abortion seen as racist? Whatever happened to disparate impact?

How can Democrats, who are the primary advocates for abortion, say with a straight face that their pro-abortion stance isn’t a dog whistle for racists? Can Democrats say they know no one who favors abortion who has not also at least once said, or perhaps “opined,” that a complementary effect of abortion is that it helps keep down the poor black population?

If Ralph (not his real name) were to beat a black man to death in the forest while yelling racial insults, but The New York Times didn’t cover the attack, would it be a racist act?

Just recently the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, indicated that he would not oppose an “abortion” even after a baby was born. Most people were scandalized by his remarks, but the only remarkable aspect of them was that he said them out loud, not that had thought them. That he, and thousands of others, had thought them is really unremarkable, because of Burnham’s Second law: “Who says A must say B.” (James Burnham was a philosopher and a founding editor of National Review; he wrote many books, including his seminal work, The Managerial Revolution.)

Burnham’s Second Law makes the point that taking one position can require taking a subsequent position. If you murder Duncan, you must also kill Banquo.

A baby in the womb either is or is not a person. The abortionists say “it” is not (they have to say that because it is still not quite acceptable to kill “people” — unless perhaps they are really old or sick and, you know, like, really not enjoying life), but the abortionists refuse to say when “it” does become a person. In theory they might say “when it is born,” but that is now transparently only terminological.

Even a fool can tell that there’s no substantive difference between the personhood of a “baby” in the womb on December 24 and that same baby born on December 25. But where are the fools when we need them?

Yeah, he’s right, without question, and you should read the rest. But the culture ain’t just abortion, and the question is a lot broader. Where’s popular music that is music? That died about 1980, maybe earlier. Now we simply have noise, and not because I’m an old fogey, I thought so in the 80s, and quit listening. Now, I listen to a 60s station from London on the internet, mostly, because even the classical stations have caught the infection.

Think that irrelevant? It’s not, culture pervades and includes all facets of life. If you listen to Handel and Bach (or even Elvis and the early Beatles, let alone Pet Clark and Frank Sinatra, it’s not something that wants to make you go kill babies. Now, I wonder.

What do you think when you see a US Soldier on the street? For me, and many of us, they are the heirs of the Continental Army, both sides in the Civil War, and the men that fought off Hitler’s and Tojo’s minions, thus saving the world. If you see anything else, well the culture is declining and quickly.

So many things like that, and it all goes into the death of our culture. If we don’t resuscitate if soon, it, and we, will die.

Slaughtering the Innocents

Matthew writes:

Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

We call this The Slaughter of the Innocents, and those Innocents are the first Saints of our church. That is as it should be. But we in the United States, have butchered over 61 million children even younger than that since 1973. We will kill another 840 today. That is the entire population of the town I grew up in – every day.

Why? The excuses are legion, and few of them amount to anything more than a woman’s convenience. That seems to be enough reason to butcher a child using methods that would cause a packing house to be shut down in horror.

But even this isn’t enough, the left thinks a woman should be able to kill her baby even after it is born, or as it is being born, that is what the new New York law allows, as does the one the Virginia Senate defeated last week. Virginia’s governor proudly proclaimed that it would allow the killing of an infant after it was born.

Georgi Boorman writing in The Federalist reminds us. I quote little of it, read it all, it’s exceptionally well done.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who just made deeply troubling comments on abortion, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who just signed the country’s most radical abortion law, have been the subject of intense ire in recent days. The outrage is coming not just coming from “radical” pro-lifers, but people from across the political spectrum.

Why? Because virtually no one but the far left believes it is morally acceptable to allow infants to be murdered seconds before birth, or to be left to die after delivery at the behest of the mother.

Yet the nation has been shocked by radical left’s boldness in their mission to define preborn human beings as disposable non-persons. Where is this evil coming from, and how do we stop it?

The Slaughter of the Young and the Elderly

Abortion and infanticide have historically been common practices. In the first century AD, infanticide was a common and culturally accepted practice across the world. The murder of infants was a regular occurrence in Europe into the Middle Ages and beyond, despite being condemned by both church and state.

The practice was not confined to the desperate, illiterate, impoverished masses, as if “enlightened” thinkers knew better. The Twelve Tables of Roman Law, admired by Cicero, contains the command that, “A dreadfully deformed child shall be quickly killed.”

Likewise, the wealthy first century Roman philosopher Seneca once wrote, “We doom scabby sheep to the knife, lest they should infect our flocks. We destroy monstrous births, and we also drown our children if they are born weakly or unnaturally formed; to separate what is useless from what is sound is an act, not of anger, but of reason.” This from a Stoic, who supposedly believed virtue to be the highest good. Notably, Seneca was Nero’s tutor.

Infanticide was an acknowledged option for any child who was deformed, sickly, of uncertain paternity, the wrong sex, or simply unnecessary to the household. Aristotle, revered by many a university professor, wrote that, “As to exposing or rearing the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared,” and “if any people have a child as a result of intercourse in contravention of these regulations, abortion must be practiced on it before it has developed sensation and life.”

The Aztecs, Mayans, and Incans all practiced child sacrifice to appease their gods. The Chimú civilization, located in what is now Peru, sacrificed more than 140 children at one time some 550 years ago. The children’s chests were slashed open, presumably to remove their hearts.

The citizens of the powerful ancient city Carthage in Phoenicia ritually sacrificed their infants. Archaeologists believe the preferred age of sacrificial infants was less than three months old. According to the writing of early AD Greek biographer Plutarch, “But with full knowledge and understanding [the Carthaginians] offered up their own children, and those who had no children would buy little ones from poor people and cut their throats as if they were so many lambs or young birds.”

The residents of the broader region of Canaan (late second millennium B.C.) were condemned numerous times by the ancient prophets of Israel for their child sacrifice. The prophet Jeremiah, in his judgment against apostate Israel, foretold that the valley of Hinnom, where the Israelites were sacrificing children to Baal, would be called “the valley of Slaughter” (Jeremiah 19:5-6).

Evidence for both ritualistic and utilitarian murder can be gathered from around the globe. In times of famine, the Inuit would abandon the elderly (both with and without consent) or dispense of them by quicker means. The Bactrians of ancient Persia were reported to have fed their sick and elderly to dogs trained especially for this purpose. Nearby cultures were supposed to have had similar senicidal customs. Among the Massagetae, Herodotus wrote that, “Human life does not come to its natural close with this people,” but that the people sacrificed their elderly, boiled their flesh, and ate it.

Not every single community on earth had such evil practices, but the embrace of death as the first solution to a family or tribe’s problems has been wickedly banal, historically speaking.

This ended as Christianity spread its influence until most of us are horrified reading such accounts, but as Christianity starts to recede these practices come back. Infanticide (including what we euphemize as abortion) leads the way, but killing the elderly and infirm lurks not far behind. In fact, they too have made their appearance, especially in government-run healthcare, such as the British NHS.

 Tertullian, an early church father, wrote in “Apologia”: “In our case, murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the foetus in the womb…To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to the birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in the seed.”

Somehow it’s always those who think they are our betters, like the Democrats (and a fair number of Republicans as well, although fewer than they used to be). It seems to be a mark of the elites, to murder those they deem less exalted. Like Herod, and like Governor Northam. I see no difference between them.

Missing Rooster Cogburn

You know, like many of you, I’ve become desensitized somewhat to slurs on manhood, when I first saw that infamous Gillette ad, I didn’t quite get what was so bad. A second viewing fixed that, forever. Then came Lou Aguilar to put it all in context.

[S]omething detrimental to manhood happened in the late Sixties, planting an emasculative seed now sprouting in the loathsome new commercial by Gillette. Many of you have seen the shaving giant’s ad, nagging its male customer base for such unpardonable behavior as approving their sons’ rough play, laughing at a raunchy sitcom, or, gasp, approaching a sexy young woman, while brandishing the “MeToo” movement and “toxic masculinity” like hammer and sickle. What made Gillette think it could do this with impunity — even hiring a radical feminist filmmaker to sell razor blades while promoting pajama boy docility — has roots stretching back 50 years, from the end of a once popular genre, the Western.

We baby boomers, and our fathers and grandfathers, didn’t need Gillette and its ilk lecturing us on the liberal preference for male conduct when growing up. We had the Ringo Kid, Zorro, Wyatt Earp, Shane, Matt Dillon, Davy Crockett, Paladin, John T. Chance, Rowdy Yates, the Magnificent Seven, the Virginian, the Barkleys, and Rooster Cogburn for role models. They taught millions of us boys to be strong, tough, face down bullies, protect the weak, and absolutely respect women. Not one of those men would ever abuse or force himself on a girl, or allow less virtuous types to do so.

In the first classic Western, John Ford’s Stagecoach (1939), John Wayne’s Ringo Kid is the only man who treats prostitute Claire Trevor as a lady, shaming others into doing the same. In Ford’s next Western gem, My Darling Clementine (1946), Wyatt Earp (Henry Fonda) realizes Doc Holliday’s genteel ex-girlfriend, Clementine, is more vital to pacifying Tombstone than his gun. Shane and his farmer employer’s wife, Marion, never act on their growing mutual attraction, out of respect for her role of wife and mother. An older John Wayne as Sheriff John Chance in Rio Bravo (1959) gets repeatedly flummoxed by Angie Dickinson’s sexual candidness. The Magnificent Seven risk their lives, and ultimate lose four, defending a dirt poor Mexican farm village. One of the seven, Charles Bronson, delivers the greatest speech about fatherhood in all of cinema, lecturing a group of hero-worshipping young boys.

“Don’t you ever say that again about your fathers, because they are not cowards. You think I am brave because I carry a gun. Well, your fathers are much braver because they carry responsibility. For you, your brothers, your sisters, and your mothers. And this responsibility is like a big rock that weighs a ton. It bends and it twists them until finally it buries them under the ground. And there’s nobody says they have to do this. They do this because they love you, and because they want to. I have never had this kind of courage. Running a farm, working like a mule every day with no guarantee anything will ever come of it. This is bravery.”

These were the men we baby boomers hoped to emulate in our adult life. Many of us to some extent succeeded.

You remember one of the lessons we learned from all of those films. Yep, that’s the one. There just ain’t no excuses, if you don’t get it done right, you are quite simply a failure. I’ve lived my life according to that time tested rule, as have many of you. But we’ve failed to pass it on. And this:

Yet so positively ingrained in the American male consciousness was the Western Hero, that one lone figure defied the liberal zeitgeist and continued making billions for the cigarette company he represented long after television tobacco ads got banned in 1970. The Marlboro Man rode on in print until 1999, when anti-smoking pressure and the internet finally unhorsed him. But we older guys remember him — roping a wild stallion then lighting up a cigarette, appropriately to Elmer Bernstein’s stirring theme from The Magnificent Seven. Watching him, even I wanted to smoke, and I didn’t. One of the most successful advertising creations of all time, the Marlboro Man could never occupy the same media universe as the chastened beta males currently populating the Gillette commercial. Neither can I. I threw away my Trac II in disgust.

Well, I haven’t although I considered it, but I only use the accursed thing when I have to fly somewhere, so I don’t have to buy blades for my safety razor instantly on landing. I did throw away my package of Gillette double edge blades though, I’ll stick to Wilkinson Sword from now on. If I can’t have the Marlboro Man anymore, I’ll have to make do with the defenders of Rorke’s Drift.

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