Hitting the Links

A harsh yet truthful critique of contemporary ‘Liberal Arts’ programs at university by Thomas Sowell.

Mark Steyn takes on religious freedom legislation in Indiana. Wry hilarity ensues.

On the same theme as above, National Review contributor Deroy Murdock examines freedom of association in light of the kerfuffle in Indiana.

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The Wise and the Witty

Thursday is supposed to be a day of quotes that I’ve either run across during the week, or dredged up from from my collection. This week I’m going to change it up a bit and post what is probably my favorite poem (although I have several that might fit the bill). This poem formed no part of my childhood, as I ran across it when I was in my 20’s. However, I think it serves as a great manifesto for the boy who, in the fullness of time, will become a man.

The idea of manliness is much debated in our society and this debate is something that I’m just starting to become aware of. Dealing with young men at university, I see that they struggle hugely with the idea of manliness and masculinity. Like I said, I’m just starting to become aware of this problem, and I think my lack of awareness is due to a lack of exposure.

I joined the Army at 17, so I was able to develop my sense of manliness at the same time that I was handed a centuries-old tradition of manhood neatly wrapped up in a rite-of-passage. So for me, the ‘search’ for manhood led me to the Army and from there it just sort of… happened. But I can see the results in the lives of young men around me who struggle with the idea of manliness.

I think I might have to write about this topic further. But in the meantime, here’s Kipling’s directive for making the transition from boy to man:

IF-

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

India’s Daughter

After watching the documentary film India’s Daughter a few weeks ago, I’m still at a bit of a loss for words. The attitudes towards women in general, and rape in particular, seem hard to credit. ‘Rape is bad and you shouldn’t do it’ is not a universal sentiment. I know that. But listening to the justifications given by Indian men in the film is like watching a slow-motion train wreck: horrible, but so fascinating that you can’t look away.

The film caused significant controversy in India and around the world. Having read numerous critiques of the film, I can understand some of the practical, cultural and legal reasons for not showing the film (or at least for delaying its release). I don’t know that I agree or disagree with these arguments, but I’ve got a bit of a handle on them now.

But in searching for an explanation for the sudden rise in rape (an increase of 9.2% in 2011 alone, with kidnapping and abductions up 19.4%) I came across a very plausible explanation: sex-selective abortion. India has one of the worst cases of gender imbalance in the world, in some parts of the country as high as 830 females to every 1000 males. Millions of Indian men will never get married, never have a family. In Indian society, family means status and wealth, baby boys are prized, and brides cost money.

The combination of social pressure, prenatal screening, and abortion-on-demand allows Indian couples to simply abort little girls. And they have done so with abandon. It is estimated that India is missing one hundred million (100,000,000!) baby girls. A gaping demographic hole. And the girls who are left tend to go to the highest bidders, because most marriages in India are still arranged. Thus, the burden of ‘mateless-ness’ falls disproportionately on a poor underclass.

Not being able to ‘get any’ is probably the worst excuse for rape imaginable. Which is saying something, because every excuse for rape is utterly inexcusable. But I don’t think that’s what’s really going on. Maybe the attitudes towards rape shown in India’s Daughter can be explained after all. This isn’t just a case of ‘rape culture’: it’s way worse than that. These men are products of their society. The scarcity of girls makes Indian women both desirable and unattainable. But abortion makes Indian women disposable.

How could Indian men not see women this way?

Having one hundred million (100,000,000!!!) baby girls just ‘disappeared’ because they were girls? In India, violence against women starts before they’re even born.

Somebody needs to make a film about that.