Commenting to my post expressing my determination to read Kevin Jennings’s published books to see if he really advocates “a radical revisioning of school curricula to fit his ideological agenda,” one reader offered “Including ‘LGBT themes’ in school curriculum is hardly radical.” I responded that “it all depends on how those themes are introduced.”
If he subscribes to the politically correct nostrums that define much of gay discourse today, then his advocacy would indeed be radical. And now a blogger has unearthed a 1998 essay Jennings wrote that strongly suggests he does indeed subscribe to such nostrums, having such a twisted idea of the Western idea of masculinity that he must have stopped reading the Iliad at line 228 of its first book (if he ever got to the book at all). Or never studied why Herakles had to undertake his celebrated twelve labors.
You see, Jennings seems to believe that an adolescent older brother was capable of “passing down the code of masculinity he’d been taught”
We need to own up to the fact that our culture teaches boys that being “a man” is the most important thing in life, even if you have to kill someone to prove it. Killing someone who calls you a faggot is not aberrant behavior but merely the most extreme expression of a belief that is beaten (sometimes literally) into boys at an early age in this country: Be a man—don’t be a faggot.
No, Kevin, it’s not. When you think it’s not “aberrant behavior” to kill someone who calls you names, you miss the whole point of Western masculinity. The lesson which the Greek heroes needed learn (many of whom through the actions and words of the goddess Athena) is not to react with disproportionate force, but to react in just measure. At the outset the Iliad, Achilles, filled with youthful braggadocio (likely similar to that of Jennings’s brother) draws his sword to strike Agamemnon dead in outrage at the disrespect the Mycenaen King showed him. But, the owl-eyed goddess sweeps down from the heavens in order to restrain him.
To become a man and realize his destiny, a hero must learn to restrain his battle fury, channeling it into just causes. And that is the essence of Western masculinity. A frenzied reaction (like that of Achilles before Athena’s intervention is the antithesis of the Western ideal.)
Perhaps, we should not fault Jennings for his ignorance. Bereft of myth, as all too many of us have been since the educational reforms of the 1960s and 1970s, we have, in large measure, lost sight of the Western ideal of masculinity, aggresssive action tempered by concern for its consequences. And the answer to that loss is not more politically correct mumbo jumbo, but a restoration of the classics to their proper place in school curricula.
But, he might get a glimpse of it if he focused less on the violence in many Americans films and more on how that violence is expressed. The unrestrained passion of Sonny Corleone (James Caan) seals his doom, while the more calculated schemes of his brother Michael (Al Pacino) secure his success. The Godfather may not be the best example to make my point, but it does show that, even in this aspect of the American imagination, the American notion of masculinity does not countenance a mindless, frenzied reaction to a taunt.
If Mr. Jennings did not have such a jaundiced view of his own national culture, he might better understand that.
(H/t Gateway Pundit)
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