The Year of Fear

Why Americans have stopped learning about courage.

On a recent episode of the Freedom-Center/Glazov Gang webinar series, Anni Cyrus discussed with Barak Lurie the subject of fear.

The episode, 2020: The Year of Fear, couldn’t have been more aptly titled.

Lurie identified both the country’s response to COVID-19 (what I refer to as “The Internment”) and the normalization of leftist violence and intimidation for which the death of George Floyd was used as a pretext as the two phenomena that most saliently underscore the primacy of fear in 2020.

To his credit, Lurie recognizes that 2020, far from being sui generis, is in fact the most overt manifestation to date of a cultural sensibility that has been decades in the making.

Americans are no longer being taught about the virtue of courage, Lurie correctly noted.  Tellingly, the more prominent (though not exclusive) examples of courage to which Lurie repeatedly refers—George  Washington, “the Founders,” Abraham Lincoln, and Winston Churchill—are men who are known for having made extraordinarily difficult and daring decisions in times of war.

They were courageous, that is, because of their resolve to unleash violencebloody, homicidal violence—against those who they regarded (whether correctly or not is a topic for a different discussion) as threats to the civilization that they were invested in preserving.

This being the case, could it be that Americans are no longer being taught about the virtue of courage because Americans have long been conditioned to accept that the use of violence by citizens is never permissible unless those citizens are acting as law enforcement agents or military personnel? 

Could it be that Americans can no longer entertain, much less appreciate, that “manliest” of character excellences, the virtue of courage, because they have been indoctrinated for decades into the prevailing Wolf-Sheep-Sheepdog (WSS) paradigm that is the dogma of all Statists? 

Is it not conceivable that the WSS, the idea that violence is justifiable if and only if it is deployed by government agents (the Sheepdogs) for the sake of “protecting” the Sheep (private citizens) from violent predators (the Wolves), accounts for why contemporary Americans do not draw inspiration from those men throughout our history that exhibited courage vis-à-vis violence?

This is not intended as a comprehensive explanation for the problem that Barak Lurie addresses, but there can be no real question that the mystification of violence has rendered Americans oblivious to the beauty of bravery, that rarest of virtues.

Yes, by endowing itself alone with the right to act violently, the State has lent an aura of mystery to violence.  The latter is something that citizens have been hypnotized into believing is beyond their ken, a thing that mesmerizes from a distance but can be genuinely, experientially known only by the few, i.e. by State actors. 

This is Gnosticism by any other name.  “Gnosis” is the Greek term for knowledge.  A Gnostic is someone who believes that knowledge is reserved only for an elite.  This character has appeared in many different times, places, and contexts over the millennia.  He is alive and well in the 21st century, in the United States of America, and within the context of violence.

The truth of the matter, though, is that Gnosticism is as much of a lie now as it has ever been.  Within the American context, especially, the lie is particularly glaring, for it is upon pain of contradiction that the country whose Declaration of Independence resoundingly affirms the Individual’s God-endowed, inalienable rights to life and liberty and whose Founders engaged in treason and rebellion against the mightiest empire in the world at that time so as to secure those rights would now deny its citizens the ability to follow the example of their ancestors in defending their rights against those who would endanger them.

Rights to life and liberty may as well not exist if citizens are deprived of the means to protect those rights.

This Statist paradigm, I submit, has pacified the present generation.

With its media apparatus, the State further augments its WSS doctrine by regularly inundating Americans with accounts and photos of gun-wielding criminals that it packages as “gun violence”—which is always bad.  Never, though, will the same Big Media talking heads and scribblers that tirelessly bemoan “gun violence” when referring, say, to mass shootings by citizens charge American soldiers with engaging in “gun violence.”   Why the discrepancy?

The answer is obvious: Being adherents of the WSS doctrine, the Statists of Big Media want for Americans to think that only private citizens, i.e. only the Sheep, can be guilty of “gun violence.”  When, though, the Experts, the Sheepdogs, unleash lethal violence against the Wolves (whether real or imagined), there is no “gun violence;” rather, their use of violence is hailed as right, just, and maybe even patriotic.

And, of course, Hollywood too reinforces the WSS.  Tinsel Town would have audiences think that, by and large, only law enforcement officers, military personnel, criminals, and terrorists handle guns.  Even its depiction of “the Wild West” feeds into this paradigm, for the Wild West wasn’t wild at all.  The reason for this should be especially obvious to those conservatives who supported Ronald Reagan’s policies on the Cold War:

The inhabitants of the Old West knew long before Reagan the soundness of the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction.

As I write this, mobs of Black Lives Matter rioters have taken the violence that they’ve been visiting for months upon cities and exported it to the suburbs of Milwaukee. Thankfully, no innocent people were harmed (though their homes were damaged and the fright suffered by one elderly woman who was awaken by the marauders is an experience that will undoubtedly remain with her for the remainder of her life).  However, law-abiding Americans can rest assured of this:

Until and unless suburbanites demonstrate the will to meet any thugs who would threaten the lives of their families with unrelenting force, the odds that there will be future attacks upon their communities are greater than they otherwise would be.  

Nor, as should be painfully obvious to any and all who haven’t been living in a cave for the last so many months, are police officers the deterrent that many would like to think that they are.  Black Lives Matter “mostly peaceful protesters” routinely instigate confrontations with police!

And besides this, police are the cleanup crew: They all too frequently arrive after the mess has been created.

Finally, as was already noted, since it is the individual who has an inalienable right to life, it is both the right and the duty of the individual to do whatever it is he must do in order to protect himself and his family from attackers.  Violence, including homicidal violence, is righteous if it is both used in defense of innocents (whether oneself, one’s loved ones, or other innocents who one is capable of helping) and necessary to stop a potentially deadly assailant.

Barak Lurie is correct that Americans have stopped learning about courage.  This could be because the Wolf-Sheep-Sheepdog creed of the State has rendered Americans forgetful of their God-given right and duty, their right and duty as human beings, to assume responsibility for their own defense and that of their loved ones.

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