Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The American Thinker Strikes Out Again

At least I didn't come across this one at Marshall Art. . . .

I found this via Roy Edroso at Alicublog. As with all such articles, one could spend most of one's time dealing with the need for editorial guidance, but I shall indulge only the "content". The lede is easy enough:
Society is promoting an entirely new type of leader: the wimp

Ah, the threat to the American male rears its limp-wristed head in the guise of what author Adar Kielczewski calls the "beta male". The evidence?
NBC's popular series The Office reflects this trend quintessentially: promotion of the beta male. Jim Halpert, unofficial "hero" of the program, does little more than raise an eyebrow at the camera as he lives a day-in, day-out life of quiet passivity. His most aggressive action is the occasional practical joke. At last year's season finale, he turned down a managerial position. A man of action he's not.


True alpha males achieve. They daringly change the way people think and the way things are done. Alpha males willing stick their neck out for results, for progress. They formed this nation. Now even some of the nation's former leaders are resorting to the beta male epidemic, a mind numbing coach potato approach to life. The current trend is reject the go-getter and be content to remain seated and watch the world roll by, as long as you're cute about it.

America was built by alphas: aggressive, authoritative, ambitious men who took control, spoke out and even (gasp!) fought for what was right.

This argument - that our role models are a bunch of wusses who are emasculating us even as we reach for another bag of chips and switch from The Sands of Iwo Jima to Changing Spaces, is not only old, it is stupid.

The whole "alpha male, beta male, wouldn't you like to be a male, too" business is the injudicious borrowing from field naturalists who use the term to refer to community leaders among social animals, such as wolves and gorillas. While it might be true that there is some justification for the use of the term among human beings, it is still an argument, rather than a settled matter. Furthermore, including Abraham Lincoln among "alpha males" is a bit of a joke. A bi-polar loser most of his adult life, Lincoln won the Presidency by default. His weaknesses, the very things that made him a loser, stood him in good stead during the worst years of the Civil War, but that hardly makes him an "alpha male". Theodore Roosevelt was the quintessential beta male. Soft and sickly most of his childhood, the only thing he had going for him was his will power. That, and family connections, a keen intellect, and a bullying attitude created a persona that was at odds with who he was.

Of course, we aren't discussing real people here, but popular images who become, by lack of serious thought, "role models". Let us leave aside the fact that the character in The Office is fictitious and consider that, as a comedy, it might be the goal of the writers to make fun of the kind of underachieving mediocrity we all know takes advantage of the Peter Principle to rise to the level of his incompetence. Of course, for these humorless types, that is either beside the point, or irrelevant to whatever passes for a point.

I am surprised that John Wayne wasn't mentioned. Actually, Wayne was often touted as a true American hero, which should be hysterically funny considering the fact that he was a draft dodger during the Second World War, working tirelessly to make sure his number didn't come up. Since none of that fits his profile, it is rarely mentioned.

Since this came up in The American Thinker, it should be obvious that it is silliness of the largest, most wanking sort. Treating it seriously does do it the favor of legitimizing it to a certain extent. But, we all have our crosses to bear.

Virtual Tin Cup

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