Where have all the gentlemen gone?

“I always thought it was so very American, when we were back in the days when Americans were known to be brash and bold. But I want to point out something while I’m thinking about Shane and the Virginian—both of them had impeccable manners. It was actually pointed out in the books, not by saying it, of course, but by having someone notice it and be shown thinking about it. It was a part of each man. Polite, filled with decorum toward actions and other people. Decent. Even knowing which fork to use—I loved it. Because the books set out the best of all worlds.”

– Minta Marie Morze

My friend, Minta, serves not only as a trusted friend, she’s also part cheerleader and part muse to keep me writing.  When she sent me her critique on my blog post the other day, where I had mentioned the 1902 novel, “The Virginian”, my thoughts turned to dissecting what it is about Donald Trump that bothers me the most.  The answer has nothing to do with Trump’s political views or flip-flops.  What bothers me is not just the brashness nor the bragging, it’s about his ungentlemanly behavior.  His supporters cheer that he isn’t bowing down to PC, but here’s the truth, he isn’t offering an example of behavior that is any better.  Going on Twitter and bashing Megyn Kelly as a ‘bimbo” doesn’t come across as “presidential”, but it also shouldn’t be acceptable behavior for any man.  Yes, I mentioned the Kelly/Howard Stern interview in a previous blog post and I find her behavior questionable too.  This all leads to the much larger topic of this post:  “Where have all the gentlemen gone?”

It seems that almost daily we are assaulted by more left-wing social-engineering insanity, accepting every sort of sexual disorder and deviancy as just a lifestyle choice, the expansion of imaginary gender categories too freakish and numerous to keep track of, and on to the angry racial animus tearing at the very seams of American society.  At the center of this turbulent storm swirls a core of rage and violence.  We have a lot of angry people in America, especially young men.  Across the seas lies another culture that has promised death to America, and the one thing they have in common with America is they have a lot of angry people too, especially men.  So, here we go as I ponder the history of gentlemen.  In a 2013 blog post, I delved into, “Why America needs gentlemen…. and ladies too”, but decided it’s time to revisit this topic.

In a 2013 column, Mark Steyn wrote about the groups of young black men engaged in knock-out crimes attacking innocent white passers-by.  He wrote:

“As things stand, if white youths target a black guy it’s a hate crime, but vice versa is merely common assault. I doubt this would make very much difference. “No justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous,” wrote Lewis — and, likewise, no law can prevent a thug punching an old lady to the ground if the thug is minded to. “A society’s first line of defense is not the law but customs, traditions, and moral values,” wrote Professor Walter Williams a few years ago. “They include important thou-shalt-nots such as shalt not murder, shalt not steal, shalt not lie and cheat, but they also include all those courtesies one might call ladylike and gentlemanly conduct. Policemen and laws can never replace these restraints on personal conduct.””

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/364659/knockouts-high-and-low-mark-steyn

The Islamic State nutjobs (more out-of-control young men) claim to be building a new Caliphate, as they crucify, behead, and topple every vestige of civilization, both modern and ancient.  These barbarians apparently read about as much history as the New Black Panthers, the thugs rioting in Baltimore, Dylan Roof and all these other violent young men.  Since 9/11 I’ve heard Charles Martel hailed for stopping the spread of Islam in Europe at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD.  He stopped the Moors, who had conquered Spain, but it wasn’t until the late 1400s when the Moors were driven out of Spain.  What followed was the Spanish Inquistion, where the Muslims and Jews were driven out of Spain and heretics (those who were not Christians) were rounded up, judged, then sentenced to extremely brutal punishments.

Most Americans, due to our lamentable education system, have no clue that the Moors(Muslims) in Spain had built an advanced civilization that far surpassed the rest of Europe at that time.  I came across a passage in the 1943 book, “The Discovery of Freedom”, by Rose Wilder Lane, describing where the European code of chivalry originated. It came from the Muslim world.  The Moors brought that code to Spain and during the Crusades, Lane notes the knights observed it in the  Saracens’ world  during their travels to the Holy Land. “Saracen” is an archaic term for Arabs/Muslims during the Crusades.  Lane writes:

But the returning Crusaders brought back to Europe the first idea of a gentleman that Europeans had ever had. Until they invaded the Saracens’ civilization, they had never known that a strong man need not be brutal. The Saracens were splendid fighters when they fought, but they were not cruel; they did not torture their prisoners, they did not kill the wounded. In their own country, they did not persecute the Christians. They were brave men, but they were gentle. They were honorable; they told the truth, they kept their word. This ideal of a gentleman especially impressed the English. It is still producing perhaps the finest class of human beings on earth today, the men and women of the British ruling class. It is an ideal that permeates all of American life. This is what surprises so many people in many parts of the world, when they see and meet the common American soldiers and sailors.

Lane, Rose Wilder (2012-05-02). The Discovery of Freedom (LFB) (Kindle Locations 2118-2125). Laissez Faire Books. Kindle Edition.

So, I looked for some more history to back up this notion of Muslims in the medieval world being the inspiration for European codes of chivalry and the development of the gentleman and here’s a passage from a 1900 history book, “A Short History of the Saracens: Being a concise account of the Rise and Decline of the Saracenic Power and of the Economic, Social and Intellectual Development of the Arab Nation” (a Google book page 519):

“But Cordova was not merely the abode of culture,of
learning and arts, of industry and commerce; it was
the home where chivalry received its first nourishment.

Chivalry is innate in the Arab character, but its rules
and principles, the punctilious code of honour, the
knightly polish, the courtliness, all of which were so
assiduously cultivated afterwards in the kingdom of
Granada, came into prominence under an-Nasir and his
son. “It was at this period that the chivalrous ideas
commenced to develop themselves, joined to an ex-
alted sense of honour and respect for the feeble sex.”1
Another competent writer states that chivalry with all
its institutions, such as came later into existence among
the Christian nations of the West, flourished among the
Saracens in the time of an-Nasir, Hakam, and al—Mansur.2
Here came foreign knights under guarantee of peace and
protection to break lance with Saracen cavaliers.”

Now, back to Minta’s astute observation that started off this post, well, here’s a passage from, “The Virginian”, where the Eastern visitor describes his first encounter with the Western cowboy, who happens to be the Virginian:

“As we went, I read my host’s letter–a brief hospitable message. He was very sorry not to meet me himself. He had been getting ready to drive over, when the surveyor appeared and detained him. Therefore in his stead he was sending a trustworthy man to town, who would look after me and drive me over. They were looking forward to my visit with much pleasure. This was all.

Yes, I was dazed. How did they count distance in this country? You spoke in a neighborly fashion about driving over to town, and it meant–I did not know yet how many days. And what would be meant by the term “dropping in,” I wondered. And how many miles would be considered really far? I abstained from further questioning the “trustworthy man.” My questions had not fared excessively well. He did not propose making me dance, to be sure: that would scarcely be trustworthy. But neither did he propose to have me familiar with him. Why was this? What had I done to elicit that veiled and skilful sarcasm about oddities coming in on every train? Having been sent to look after me, he would do so, would even carry my valise; but I could not be jocular with him. This handsome, ungrammatical son of the soil had set between us the bar of his cold and perfect civility. No polished person could have done it better. What was the matter? I looked at him, and suddenly it came to me. If he had tried familiarity with me the first two minutes of our acquaintance, I should have resented it; by what right, then, had I tried it with him? It smacked of patronizing: on this occasion he had come off the better gentleman of the two. Here in flesh and blood was a truth which I had long believed in words, but never met before. The creature we call a GENTLEMAN lies deep in the hearts of thousands that are born without chance to master the outward graces of the type.”

Throughout America, gentlemen still exist, although they are definitely an endangered species.  The US military used to be a bastion of fine gentlemen, but the Obama transformation marked them for extinction, under the guise of progress, where sexual orientation and progressive nostrums neuter gentlemen and turn them into parsing, mincing PC cheerleaders.  The ones who want to wear the skirts are being given top attention before being separated from the military, as it seems the Secretary of Defense spends more time working to make sure transgenders can serve openly than he does trying to make sure we defeat ISIS.

There are still glimmers of hope, like the young American men, who charged ahead unarmed to deal with an Islamist terrorist on a French train recently. so let’s hope across America, some Moms and Dads are still teaching their sons to be gentlemen, because they are sorely needed!


Filed under American Character, Culture Wars, General Interest, History, Islam, Military, Politics

5 responses to “Where have all the gentlemen gone?

  1. Kinnison

    Some of us were raised as, and still are, gentlemen. My Dad was a Major of Marines, a career warrior, and taught his three sons to be gentlemen. Still are. Some view us as dinosaurs, including many militant feminists who resent, for example, their doors being opened for them. We were taught to value and treat women with respect, and to defend them. Let me point out that the Japanese, at least until they went through a metamorphasis sometime between the early 1900’s and WWII, subscribed to a warrior code that made them implacable in combat, generous to those defeated—they were punctilious in their treatment of Russian POWs in the Russo-Japanese War in Manchuria in 1904-05—and believed that a samurai should be equally at home arranging flowers and writing Haiku and with a sword or bow. (I spent a considerable time in Okinawa and Japan while on active duty, and studied Japanese history and culture…) their code of chivalry was every bit as well-developed as that of the European knights.

    • Thanks for that information Kinnison, I was not aware of the Japanese treatment of Russian POWS in the Russo-Japanese War, having only ever heard about the brutality of the Japanese during WWII. That’s really fascinating. I know there are still many gentlemen left across America, especially in flyover country.

  2. Minta Marie Morze

    The most important and implacable truth about maintaining civilization and raising gentlemen and ladies is that it has to be taught—it has to be a heritage that is specifically and individually passed on generation to generation, and specifically and openly valued.

    The stories, the “narratives”, the legends and myths, the movies and TV series and quotations and historical references people know and understand, all have to envelop the citizen of a civilization with magic and wonder, with ethics and manners, with decency and heroes that demonstrate the shared values.

    In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo, one of the key heroes, gets to a certain point in the daunting journey of salvation and he says he just can’t go on with his mission, it’s too difficult, he’s faced too many dangers and the future looks like it will be even worse. His buddy is the lowly Sam, traveling with “Mr. Frodo” to fetch and carry and guard. At yet another moment in the adventure, they have barely escaped death and face even more peril, Frodo barely can speak:

    [From http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0167261/quotes%5D

    Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
    Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
    Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
    Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.

    It’s High Noon and Die Hard and Gunsmoke and the Longest Day and the man at the end of the movie saying to the children, “Stand up. Your father’s going by” and even George C. Scott turning around at the end of the film and going back into the hospital—but you all know them, don’t you, so many titles, so many characters, so many moments that thrill you no matter how many times you’ve seen them, so many moments when you feel the strength and the passion of Truth and Honor and the Hero . . . .

    It’s Todd Beamer saying, “Let’s roll!”

    You raise your children to be ladies and gentlemen, to honor the Good, to recognize and acknowledge the Hero and the Heroic, to know how “to fill the unforgiving minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run”—because there is thunder and magnificence in Sam’s “there’s some good in the world, and it’s worth fighting for.”

  3. Pingback: Gentlemen: America’s endangered species | libertybelle diaries

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