A few weeks ago we reprinted the first of what will be three pieces on movies and the culture wars on the picture Gunga Din. When getting permission to reprint these pieces I stated that with the election of Trump the cultural significance of these pieces and these movies had increased. Why? Consider this passage from my Gunga Din piece:
Through the entire picture manly virtue is celebrated: It’s celebrated when the survivors of the first battle, after an arduous trek bearing their wounded, form to march into the camp parade in good order. It’s celebrated as Din, with Cutter’s support, dreams of being a soldier instead of a water bearer. It’s celebrated when Cutter allows himself to be taken so Din can give warning. Ballantine refuses to leave his friend in the lurch even for the woman he loves. Cutter and MacChesney endure torture, Din gives his life to warn the regiment, and even the villain of the piece sacrifices himself in the hope of victory for his cause.
These manly values are not only conservative values, but are instinctive human values that since 9/11 the left has been unable to suppress.
The idea of work is a manly virtue, a virtue of labor, sometimes hard and oftimes monotonous but allowing you to support yourself and your family. And while such labor can seem oppressive, particularly to one who has never done it, it confers dignity and independence. It says that come hell or high water my wife and my children will be fed and sheltered and it will be done by my own hand.
But it’s even more than that, it’s also conveys an optimism that given time and effort one’s hard work will be rewarded, either by one’s own success or the success that the work allows one’s family to achieve.
This is the rust belt virtue that the industries so despised by the left has rejected.
And that brings us to Donald Trump.
Trump is a person embraces the manly art of doing, not just as a person who works hard, in the value of labor, but the OPTIMISM of doing the idea that working hard brings rewards!
And part of that hard work is to stand up for yourself, and when Trump bluntly defends American labor, American products, American jobs, even when these things carry a risk, he is illustrating the manly virtue of courage, the willingness to accept risk to achieve a right end.
That virtue is one that our friends on the left are horrified of, and one that comes hard to the cultural elites such as André Leon Talley:
It sounds as though he wanted to play a part in the fashion and design side of the new presidency, but he couldn’t bear the risk.
As we sit in the hotel lobby, he muses: “I’m not a big person in the world. I’m maybe a big figure in the fashion world. I mean, sort of iconic. But I don’t want to get phone calls in the middle of the night, telling me I’ve gone over to Trumpland and I’m going to Darth Vader because I said nice things about Melania…..”
He’s afraid of bullies.
Those bullies of the left can’t intimidate the rust belt worker who has the courage to defy convention and to say to those who would shun him over said virtue and support for Trump. “Who cares?”
He’s not afraid of the bullies of the left, and that’s why the bullies of the left hate them and Trump so.
Closing thought. It’s fitting that this piece leads on December 26th because it is the feast of St. Stephen, the very first Christian Martyr who even as the mob screamed for his death had both the manly virtue to stand for the truth as he knew it, and derivative of that virtue the willingness to forgive.
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