Thursday, September 14, 2006


Big Men and Little Men

David Warren, writing at Real Clear Politics, speaks of Big Men and Little Men, and who are our real enemies:

I frankly admire both Bush and Blair, as courageous politicians, with open minds, doing their best within the limits of what is politically possible in their respective spheres. They are both towering figures, in comparison to the little men who oppose them. We won't know what trouble is, until the little men replace them.

I continue to be optimistic about what can be done, should we summon the will to do it. I have written repeatedly that a robust and unified Western response to "Islamofascism" could fling it quickly onto the trash-heap of history, to join Nasserism and Baathism and other earlier manifestations of Arab nationalism and socialism. Smack it hard, without apology.

My pessimism is founded in the fear that this robust and unified response cannot be mobilized. We have a huge fifth column in the West, and it is not the Muslim immigrants. They become radicalized only because our "victim culture" encourages them to nurture their grievances. Yet most, despite temptation, remain good, decent people, doing their share of the West's work.

Our real enemy is within us, in the immense constituency of the half-educated narcissists pouring from our universities each year -- that glib, smug, liberal, and defeatist "victim culture" itself, that inhabits the academy, our media, our legal establishment, the bureaucratic class. The opinion leaders of our society, who live almost entirely off the avails of taxation, make their livelihoods biting the hands that feed them, and undermining the moral order on which our solidarity depends.

Beware the Little Men, truly “We won't know what trouble is,” if the Little Men take over the field.

Of course this immediately brings to mind Teddy Roosevelt – perhaps more robust than towering a figure, but courageous and insightful – and his Man in the Arena Speech:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

That’s an iconic statement for a Statesman, but there’s an even better preface to this well-known quotation in Roosevelt’s 1910 Sorbonne Speech, that speaks of the fight both Bush and Blair recognize for what it is: an internal fight against our weaker, more fearful and selfish selves.

Let the man of learning, the man of lettered leisure, beware of that queer and cheap temptation to pose to himself and to others as a cynic, as the man who has outgrown emotions and beliefs, the man to whom good and evil are as one. The poorest way to face life is to face it with a sneer.

We have seen a millennia worth of sneers since 9/11, largely in response to any good faith effort to aggressively take on the enemy at the gates.

Opponents of current US Foreign Policy bemoan how “hated we are” in the world, how much our actions have “turned the world against us,” how President Bush’s “cowboy attitudes” have alienated erstwhile allies and inflamed anti-US hostility globally. All this, despite little demonstrable evidence that the US is despised at rates any higher than we’ve seen for decades. You have to wonder what they’re really talking about, because every President since Gerald Ford has had to deal with almost universal resentment of America.

Western journalists and other intellectuals frequently defend their tendency away from nationalism or even patriotism, by identifying themselves as “citizens of the world.” Their chronic and logic-free antagonism towards the Bush Administration surely aligns them more with the elites of foreign countries, rather than whatever one might expect from the cultural and political vanguards of Democracy, today’s “opinion leaders.”

Turns out, Roosevelt warned us about such as these in his speech that day, as well:

Experience teaches us that the average man who protests that his international feeling swamps his national feeling, that he does not care for his country because he cares so much for mankind, in actual practice proves himself the foe of mankind; that the man who says that he does not care to be a citizen of any one country, because he is the citizen of the world, is in fact usually and exceedingly undesirable citizen of whatever corner of the world he happens at the moment to be in.

Half-educated narcissists, indeed.

Meanwhile, there’s a war to fight.

Linked at Memeorandum

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