Monday, May 20, 2013

Never Trust Anyone Who Hasn't Looked in a Mirror
By Emily O'Malley

         The other day I came across an article that must be seen to be believed. It’s called “Never Trust Anyone Who Hasn't Been Punched in the Face,” written by a man named Scott Locklin. It's been receiving a great deal of attention and praise. I clicked on the article because the title intrigued me. What followed was a tangent so riddled with misogyny, gender stereotypes, racism, homophobia, and outrageous misinformation that my husband theorized that it may actually be from another world, transported to ours via the Tardis.
          I briefly wondered if it was satire, but as I continued to read, I realized the truth. Locklin wholeheartedly believes his own bunk. He’s expressed the same views in other articles he’s written, most of which are featured on Takimag.com. (Taki’s Magazine is a publication which pretentiously describes itself as “mental caviar.” The “About Us” page claims that they’re politically and ideologically neutral, but they mainly publish material that is sexist, racist, or homophobic in nature. Only two of their columnists are women, both of whom are virulently anti-feminist. Another regular columnist is Pat Buchanan, who wrote a piece bemoaning the “anti-Christian” assault on Christmas. Despite the fact that 77 percent of American adults identify as Christian, America is clearly an anti-Christian country and Christmas is in grave danger of going the way of the dinosaurs and Paris Hilton’s career.)
         I couldn’t resist adding my own input. Locklin’s article follows below, and my own commentary is the bold print after each of his paragraphs.

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“Conservatives like to talk about the causes of Western Civilization’s downfall: feminism, loose morality, drug abuse, Christianity’s decline, reality TV. Blaming civilization’s downfall on lardy hagfish such as Andrea Dworkin is like a doctor diagnosing senility by an old person’s wrinkles. The fact that anyone listened to such a numskull is a symptom, not the cause, of a culture in decline.”

        At first I was perplexed as to why he’d mention Andrea Dworkin at all, let alone mark her as the first target of his diatribe. She’s hardly relevant to this topic or to modern public discourse. Later on in his screed, I realized why. You’ll see.

“The cause of civilizational decline is dirt-simple: lack of contact with objective reality. The great banker-journalist (and founder of the original National Review) Walter Bagehot said it well almost 150 years ago: ‘History is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it.’”

      “Hard manliness”…I see what he did there.

“Every great civilization reaches a point of prosperity where it is possible to live your entire life as a pacifist without any serious consequences. Many civilizations have come to the state of devolution represented by modern Berkeley folkways, from wife-swapping to vegetarianism. These ideas don’t come from a hardscrabble existence in contact with nature’s elemental forces; they are the inevitable consequence of being an effete urban twit removed from meaningful contact with reality.”

           …And this article was penned by a Berkley-dwelling number cruncher who self-admittedly has “limited experience with violence.” Also, referring to wife-swapping as an act of “devolution” contradicts his own argument, since that practice would almost certainly lend itself to a population increase. He makes it sound like a mainstream lifestyle within our society, rather than something marginal. Now who’s the one “removed from meaningful contact with reality”?
         A side note: Why the bitterness about vegetarians? This resentment is pervasive in his other articles as well. Did this guy have a traumatic experience with a soy burger or something? And how presumptuous—and inaccurate—to assume that vegetarians don’t get into fights. There are wrestlers, MMA fighters, and other athletes who eat vegetarian and vegan diets. You don’t need to eat meat to kick ass.
        I may be overanalyzing a bit, but it seems that Locklin equates "meat eater" with "tough guy" because to him, meat isn't just a part of one's diet. He appears to think that eating an animal is an act of conquer. It's one of many examples of his overcompensation. (Not that every non-vegetarian eats meat because they want to "conquer" an animal, but those who regard vegetarians as weak and wimpy seem to hold that attitude. It's a form of posturing that's near-painful to listen to.)

“The over-civilized will try to portray their decadence as something “highly evolved” and worthy of emulation because it can only exist in the hothouse of highly civilized urban centers, much like influenza epidemics.”

         Actually, non-urban people can certainly be vegetarians or wife-swappers. And influenza epidemics are hardly limited to “highly civilized urban centers.”
        Yes, it is flawed reasoning to deduce that a behavior which can only exist in a highly advanced society must, in itself, be an evolved and highly productive behavior. But as we've established, vegetarianism and non-traditional marriages don't fall into this catagory. Another fact to consider is that a society resting on fistfights, gang violence, and abuse is not highly evolved, and certainly not one to strive toward. Technology doesn't separate us from that way of life, either. On the contrary, technology often enables us to develop more far-reaching forms of warfare.

“Somehow these twittering blockheads missed out on what the word “evolution” means. Evolution involves brutal and often violent natural selection, and these people have not been exposed to brutal evolutionary forces any more than a typical urban poodle.”

        In other words, people never face violence in cities? Cue a blank stare.

“Through human history, vigorous civilizations had various ways of dealing with the unfortunate human tendency toward being a weak ninny. The South Koreans (for my money, the hardest men in Asia today) have brutally tough military training as a rite of passage. I’ve been told that the Soviet system had students picking potatoes during national holidays. The ancient Greeks used competitive sports and constant warfare. The Anglo-American working classes, the last large virtuous group of people left in these countries, use bullying, violent sports, fisticuffs, and hard living.”

           There is so much wrong with this paragraph that I barely know where to begin. You’re either a violent bully or a “weak ninny”? Wow, someone’s dichotomous thinking is showing. He uses the ancient Greeks as an example of a group that thrived because they were stoic and aggressive. They were tough, but also every bit as “decadent” as the contemporary urban masses he sneers at. Not only that; he’s trying to condone brutality by using ancient Greece and the Soviet Union as examples to emulate, though both of those governments fell. (Whether their downfalls were due to warfare or in spite of it is beside the point.) In regard to the Soviet Union, he criticizes their form of government later on in his essay. This article has the consistency of a bowl of Jell-O.
           He lauds bullying as some sort of strength of character, when by its very definition, it is anything but. Bullying is the act of targeting someone vulnerable; someone who won’t pose a challenge to oneself. In that sense, a bully is a coward.
          Also, the Anglo-Americans are “the last virtuous group of people left in these countries”? Mad props on the xenophobia and white supremacist overtones, bro.

“I think there is a certain worldview that comes from violent experience. It’s something like…manhood. You don’t have to be the world’s greatest badass to be a man, but you have to be willing to throw down when the time is right.”

         Or, in the author’s case, you have to imagine you would hypothetically be willing to beat up those nefarious wife-swapping vegetarians if one of them kidnaps you in his Prius, force-feeds you his homegrown soy products, and tries to rope you into his polyamorous marriage. In reality, any one of those folks could probably kick him to the curb with their faux-leather Birkenstocks.

“A man who has been in a fight or played violent sports has experienced more of life and manhood than a man who hasn’t. Fisticuffs, wrestling matches, knife fights, violent sport, duels with baseball bats, facing down guns, or getting crushed in the football field—men who have had these experiences are different from men who have not. Men who have trained for or experienced such encounters know about bravery and mental fortitude from firsthand experience. Men who have been tested physically know that inequality is a physical fact. Men who know how to deal out violence know that radical feminism’s tenets—that women and men are equal—are a lie. We know that women are not the same as men: not physically, mentally, or in terms of moral character.”

           Welcome in, sexism! I was wondering when you’d arrive. For those of us less fluent in Misogynese, his dig at women roughly translates to: “I’ve been blocked too many times on OKCupid.” BTW, way to knock feminism without the slightest inkling about what it is. By asserting that men and women are equal, feminists do not claim that both genders are “the same.” As far as that’s concerned, men are vastly different from other men and women vary greatly from other women.
          From the get-go of this essay, he’d set the bar pretty high in terms of gender clich├ęs, and this paragraph does not disappoint. The statement that “a man who has been in a fight or played violent sports has experienced more of life and manhood than a man who hasn’t” is meaningless. You could say that a man who’s attended college or traveled to foreign countries is different than a man who has not. That generalization could apply to anything.

“Men who have fought know how difficult it is to stand against the crowd and that civilization is fragile and important. A man who has experienced violence knows that, at its core, civilization is an agreement between men to behave well. That agreement can be broken at any moment; it’s part of manhood to be ready when it is. Men who have been in fights know about something that is rarely spoken of without snickering these days: honor. Men who have been in fights know that, on some level, words are just words: At some point, words must be backed up by deeds.”

           “Civilization is an agreement between men to behave well.” He completely excludes women from his definition of civilization, even though we make up over half the population and we certainly fight, too. As far as words being backed up by deeds, who’s to say that those deeds always have to be violent in nature? There are numerous ways to change society, stand up for oneself, and gain power without employing violence. Civil disobedience, boycotts, changing laws, suing one’s oppressors, and gaining media attention are just a few of those methods. History has shown time and again that there are myriad factors which contribute to people gaining power. You don’t need to be a bloodthirsty brute. People climb to positions of influence by way of intelligence, talent, useful information, money, manipulation, social connections, and more. Not all of those are positive or honest means of ascent, but they’re not necessarily violent.

“Above all, men who have been in fights know that there is nothing good or noble about being a victim. This is a concept the modern “conservative movement,” mostly run by wimps, has lost, probably irrevocably. They’re forever tugging at my heartstrings, from No Child Left Behind to Israel’s plight to MLK's wonders to whining that the media doesn’t play fair to the overwrought emotional appeals they use to justify dropping bombs on Muslims. The Republicans even took seriously a pure victim-candidate: Michelle Bachman. As far as can be told, she’s a middle-American Barack Obama with boobs and a slightly loopier world view.”

            Ah, yes. You can’t write a racist, sexist, xenophobic piece without a good old fashioned dose of victim-blaming. No, a victim is not always a brave or noble person (it would depend on the individual), and it’s true that victimhood is not a badge of honor in itself. At the same time, it is neither a sign of weakness nor a fair cause for derision. Many people who have been victimized have chosen to turn their experiences into triumphs by learning from them and using their unique insight to help others avoid their own plights.
           Besides, what kind of alternate universe does he live in? Is there really a parallel world in which the modern GOP is overly sympathetic to marginalized victims? Or another planet in which Republican media frequently invokes the rhetoric of MLK? No Child Left Behind was in no way a sentimental initiative. Sure, it used a double-speak name in a shallow attempt to sound more humane, but it focused on punishing schools for their underperforming students. It assessed a student’s entire aptitude by their grade on a standardized test.
          As far as the comparison of Obama to Michelle Bachman, I have no words. Just an incredulous blink.

“Modern “civilized” males don’t get in fistfights. They don’t play violent sports. They play video games and, at best, watch TV sports. Modern males are physical and emotional weaklings. The ideal male isn’t John Wayne or James Bond or Jimmy Stewart anymore. It’s some crying tit that goes to a therapist, a sort of agreeable lesbian with a dick who calls the police (whom he hates in theory) when there is trouble. The ideal modern male is the British shrimp who handed his pants over to the looter in south London.”

1.) A great many civilized males and females play violent sports. What makes them civilized is the fact that they don’t allow that violence to leak into other areas of their lives.
2.) I understand using examples of John Wayne or James Bond, but when was Jimmy Stewart ever regarded as a masculine ideal? He was admired, but never seen as especially macho. Additionally, James Bond is highly educated and cultured—two qualities that Locklin often thumbs his nose at.
3.) This can be paraphrased as “real men don’t cry or go to therapists.” I just rolled by eyes so far that I’m surprised they didn’t lock into place.
4.) Aside from the glaring sexism and homophobia inherent in using “lesbian” as an insult for men, it’s not even consistent with his other thoughts. He hates men who he sees as “effete” and “wimpy” (his definition of feminine). In the beginning of this article he took a swipe at Andrea Dworkin for her feminist outlook, but her perspective was far from pacifistic. She was frequently criticized for being forceful and endorsing violence toward male supremacists. She doesn’t represent the face of feminism at all; there’s great variation within the movement. However, the author seems to use her as an example of the quintessential feminist. He only criticizes aggression when women use it. This tells me that it's not really passivity he objects to; it's people who don't conform to gender stereotypes.
5.) He is in no position to express contempt for those who would call the police instead of taking vigilante action. Unless he’s prepared to take down a burglar with his own brass knuckles (or tin knuckles, more likely), it’s just plain ridiculous for him to judge. Anyway, police are trained to maintain order and use violence if necessary, so you’d think he would appreciate their societal role.

“How did we get here? Estrogens in the food supply? Cultural Marxism’s corrosive influence? Small families? Some of the greatest badasses I’ve known had many brothers to fight with growing up. When good men who will fight are all extinct, there is no more civilization. No lantern-jawed viragos are going to save you from the barbarian hordes. No mincing Nancy boys with Harvard diplomas will stand up for the common decencies: They’re a social construct, dontcha know. The conservative movement won’t save you: They’re chicken-hearted careerists petrified of offending a victim group.”

           Sounds like someone’s a subscriber to WorldNetDaily.
           Plenty of scrappy adults grew up without brothers to fight with, and plenty of pacifists have siblings.
          Why does he have a problem with barbarian hordes? They’re far from the “mincing Nancy boys” he disdains. It sounds more like he wishes he were a member of a barbarian horde instead of a metropolitan office worker.
          His anti-intellectualism makes little sense, since he seems to be desperately grasping for the tone of a Harvard graduate. He believes that “common decencies” are not a social construct, but blindly insists that bullying, sexism, rigid gender roles, homophobia, and overcompensating machismo are healthy and innate aspects of our nature. Doesn't common decency require us to not hold those attitudes?
         And once again, he asserts that American conservatism somehow panders to victim groups. I don’t know which bodily orifice he pulled that concept from, but it certainly was not from his head.

“Teddy Roosevelt, my ideal President, kept a lion and a bear as pets in the White House and took his daily exercise doing jiu-jitsu and boxing. He even lost vision in an eye in a friendly boxing match while he was president. Our last three glorious leaders are men who kept fluffy dogs and went jogging. I don’t trust squirrelly girly-men in any context. When confronted with difficult decisions, they don’t do what’s right or tell the truth—they’ll do what’s easy or politically expedient. Unlike the last three, Teddy Roosevelt never sent men to die in pointless wars, though he was more than happy to go himself or risk his neck wrestling with bears.”

         So he believes that an ideal president treats himself as expendable by choosing to go out and wrestle with bears while the country is in his hands?
        And “real” men don’t own fluffy pets? I wonder if he’s aware that his favorite president had guinea pigs.

“I’m no great shakes: I’m a shrimpy egghead in a suit who thinks about math all day. I don’t train for fighting anymore, and my experiences with violence are fairly limited. Nonetheless, I judge people on these sorts of things. When I first meet a man, I don’t care what kind of sheepskins or awards he has on his walls. I don’t care if he is liberal or conservative. I want to know if they have my back in a fight. That’s really the only thing that matters.”

        He recognizes this about himself, yet believes he’s still in a position to judge. Not only that, but he claims not to judge people by their political views while assuming that a liberal would be unwilling or unable to defend another person in a fight.
       Then again, what do I know about logic or consistency? I’m just an “effete urban twit,” and worst of all, female. I should just spend my days picking flowers and baking cupcakes for a bored internet-surfing financier who wishes he were a Skyrim character. He’s the real expert on what life is all about.