- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2001

Washington editor Kate Kennedy has undergone a change since Sept. 11 in how she thinks of America's future and in her personal views of men. "Waking up Wednesday morning, the day after it, I couldn't help but recognize the fact that I was waking up to an entirely different world than the one I woke up to the morning before," said Miss Kennedy, who edits www.shethinks.org, a Web site associated with the Independent Women's Forum.
As for men, she has had a "little bit of a turnaround" there, too.
Software entrepreneurs are certainly OK, she said, but the guys who want to become sky marshals are captivating. "And I'd marry any fireman or policeman right now. On the spot. We could go to Vegas," she said.
The Sept. 11 terror attacks and their aftermath have washed the nation in images of horror and heroism.
Americans saw their police and other professionals evacuate some 25,000 people from the World Trade Center while firefighters fearlessly climbed toward the fires in the doomed buildings.
Stories emerged of ordinary people exhibiting extraordinary courage and selflessness; two men carrying a woman in a wheelchair down 68 flights of stairs, people in smoke-filled Pentagon offices searching on their knees for others to lead to safety, men banding together on a hijacked airplane to defeat the terrorists. "Let's roll," passenger Todd Beamer said as the midair altercation aboard United Airlines Flight 93 began.
Heroes are back, said Frank Farley, a psychologist and staff member at Temple University in Philadelphia who has studied culture and heroism for nearly four decades.
Heroes, he said, typically embody at least two, and sometimes all, of the following six groups of characteristics:
Courage and strength.
Kindness, love and generosity.
Skill, expertise and intelligence.
The ability to attract affection and respect from others.
Adventurousness and ability to take risks.
America, as a nation, has a risk-taking, inventive, creative and even heroic nature.
"We're not wallflowers. We're 'Let's do it. Let's get to it,'" Mr. Farley said.
These heroic qualities all rose to the forefront among the emergency workers in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, he said. The disaster also has produced thousands of what Mr. Farley calls "situational" heroes people who "emerge from the crowd, do their deeds, and go back into the crowd."
The heroes of Sept. 11 may loom even larger especially to young people because of timing, he said.
During the Clinton administration years, with impeachment, scandal and partisan nitpicking, "it became difficult for people to see heroic behavior on the national scene," said Mr. Farley. "This was a period without many heroes.
"Against that background, what happened on Sept. 11 stands in stark relief," he said. Now, young people can look in their hometowns as well as in New York and Washington and "find somebody who did something wonderful in the post-September 11 days."
Sept. 11 also will produce a new roster of heroes, with President Bush joining the top 10 list a rare event for a sitting president, Mr. Farley predicted.
As far as the way men and women view each other, some see a revival of time-honored values.
"Patriotism is making a comeback and with it will come more manly men," said Robert Knight, a culture watcher at Concerned Women for America.
Mr. Knight said the popular culture is likely to follow suit at least temporarily by abandoning hero-stars who are androgynous or "perpetual adolescents" in favor of rough-hewn, he-man stars like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood.
"Instead of hyperaggressive movie stars who wield violence and pursue selfish sexual appetites, we have very real men displaying courage, strength and self-sacrifice. This is a very good thing for boys to see because they've been told over and over that they have no particular role and there's nothing special about manhood," he said.
"One of the most enduring images from the Oklahoma City bombing," he added, "was the big masculine fireman holding the wounded body of a tiny child that photo embodied masculine power put to a right purpose, protecting the weak and protecting a community. The images out of New York are very similar."
What Americans saw amid the Sept. 11 attacks were men, in the truest sense, said the Rev. Doug Wilson, author of "Future Men" and pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho.
"I define masculinity as the assumption of responsibility," he said, offering special praise to the firefighters. "I believe authority flows to those who take responsibility and flees from those who shirk it."
Mr. Wilson sees an abundance of lessons in Sept. 11, both for the country and for young men and young women.
Political correctness took a hit, for instance.
The firefighters who lugged heavy equipment up the stairs in the doomed World Trade Center demonstrated the need for reality-based fitness tests, not rigged exercises aimed at allowing women on the force for egalitarian reasons, he said.
"I believe the protective, high-risk job is something men should do," he said. "And I don't hear anyone regarding the Navy Seal and Delta Force teams calling for us to make sure we have equal numbers of women on the ground there.
"Basically, a lot of our egalitarianism of the last two decades was a luxury an indoor hobby of a nation at peace."
Sept. 11 presents a crossroads for American young men, he said.
"It's easy for young men to think that they're up to [enlisting]. You don't have to have very much testosterone to kid yourself," he said.
"But in order to be committed to a long-haul struggle, it takes something more than just flag-waving or a lump in your throat. That kind of toughness has to be instilled in boys from the time they're 2 years old."
Mr. Wilson, who criticized the "feminization" of men in his book, believes that in the aftermath of Sept. 11, "either we will recover what true masculinity is, and what the foundations of it are, or we will perish. And I don't know which way it will go."
"Reality is not optional," he added, "and as much as we tried to make it optional with the feel-good decades of the '80s and '90s, the world is a hard place. You can either prepare your sons for that reality or leave them unprepared."

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