Richard Hoover: What happened to the Good Knights?
What in the world is happening to American guys, to their ability to look and behave like real men? The anecdotal evidence is staggering:
• Neutered, male sops are increasingly featured in TV sitcoms, musical entertainments and advertising.
• A cocoa-drinking “pajama boy” was chosen to be a Democratic Party masthead.
• A public culture that exalts gender confusion is taking hold (for example, Google “gender neutral parenting”).
• The rate of single mother families is soaring because guys no longer have what it takes to man up, to commit to the long haul.
• Male fashioning — whether of hair, dress, accessories, piercing and extravagant tattooing — reflects what was once considered unmanly, reflects images of self-indulgence, weakness and incapacity.
At the same time, other American guys, instead of fading into unmanly limbos (see the above), turn to unmanly violence. I speak of the nearly 1,000 shootings so far this year in Chicago alone, of the 2015 mob depredations in Ferguson and Baltimore. I speak also of surging domestic violence and of the most ungallant treatment of women imaginable (Black Entertainment Television, in particular, take note!), and of those demonstrations that threaten, even, 2016 presidential campaign events.
Whichever path guys may choose in their flight from manliness, they take it in response to society’s efforts to overhaul, deconstruct and emasculate them, to socialize them away from what is viewed as destructive maleness — to make them more, well, like girls. A whole literature exists on this phenomenon, especially as it touches on public education and on the general hope among educators (and feminists too) that, given the malleability of the young male, a “final solution” may well be attainable — one that will make lads less aggressive (though this effort can backfire) and certainly less competitive. Flagging performance stats galore do confirm the impact of what was once called “the war against little boys.”
Some part of this terrible solution is the imposition of a “zero tolerance” of violence — even to include cases of self-defense when victims are confronted by bullies. Unless I am greatly mistaken, school children these days are not often counseled to stand up to their physically intimidating oppressors. Were they to do so, I dare say, it would do more to right injustice than all the anti-bullying campaigns out there.
So, whatever happened, say, to the ideal of the Good Knight — brave, skilled in arms, modest, just, defender of the weak and protector of the fair? I remember him well from my primary school days and observe that he is no more. Indeed, how could this champion exist under today’s moral regimen? He has been extinguished for his grand maleness, his solid virtues rejected by the “zero tolerance” policy makers. Are we then becoming no better than poor Kitty Genovese’s useless neighbors when the weak are bullied and threatened? (To recall a famous and tragic event from March 1964.)
The Good Knight is needed today more than ever; had his spirit been on that now-famous and ill-fated school bus, events might not have taken their course. And if they had, the victims might have planted their fists right in the middle of their oppressors’ faces, and Good Knights might have sprung from all around, gone down fighting, even, in the effort to put the oppressors all down. We can only hope something like this happened.
Richard Hoover, a retired Foreign Service officer, resides in southern Warren County.