- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 18, 2005

Since World War II, some cultural changes have affected our ability to fight and defeat a dangerous enemy. Here are two important examples:

(1) The disappearance of evil. People who should know say Americans are more religious than ever. So why doesn’t it feel that way? For one thing, “evil” has disappeared. Even churches rarely mention it anymore. What we once called evil has become almost normalized. Behaviors that formerly cost evildoers long terms in prison, or even their lives, are now either minimally punished or called “alternate lifestyles.”

Today, sexual predators live among us, serially victimizing children. If caught, they go to prison, serve part or all of their sentences and rejoin society. Communities try to track them but are often thwarted by courts overturning local and state laws due to “privacy” concerns. Habitual sex-crime perpetrators are no longer called “deviants,” nor their acts called evil.

Occasionally, the media fixate on a sensational crime like the disappearance of a young woman in Aruba several months ago. Certainly, it was a wretched business. Yet equally despicable crimes are ignored or get only brief media mention.

In 1999, two homosexual men in Arkansas raped a 13-year-old boy repeatedly. He suffocated when they stuffed underwear in his mouth to stifle his screams. The media hardly noticed the crime. The term “evil” appeared in no news reports.

Media disinterest in identifying and fighting evil now extends to terrorism here and abroad. Increasingly, reporters describe terrorists as “angry, disadvantaged losers” or “freedom fighters.” Even our American media now refer to “bombers” or “militants.” “Terror” and “evil” are missing from our lexicon.

This does not explain what happened to evil, of course — only that we no longer think of crime and terror in terms of good versus evil. We have “defined evil down,” to paraphrase the late Daniel P. Moynihan. This hurts our ability to make war.

Perhaps more than most people, Americans need to believe they are in mortal combat against evil when they go to war. It bespeaks how seriously we regard war.

It also explains why the Vietnam War didn’t sell. Americans in the 1960s grew up on Ernest Hemingway, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” and Che Guevara, dashing “hero of the people” (who ordered thousands executed in Cuba). We could not see the Viet Cong “freedom fighters” as evil.

In World War II, evil didn’t need selling. Pearl Harbor and the Bataan Death March convinced us. Word was already trickling out about mass gassings and shootings in Eastern Europe. Young men lined up at recruiting stations by the thousands. Americans saw these enemies as evildoers we had to crush. This enabled us to finish Japan with the A-bomb — something hard to imagine now. Unless we are A-bombed first, the public would not permit it.

To defeat terrorism, we’ll need to see that people who masquerade as “religious,” while blowing up buildings and beheading people, are not misunderstood. They’re not victims. They’re evil.

(2) Feminized culture. Readers who fear I want to roll back opportunities for women can relax. This isn’t about suppressing women. It’s about oppressing boys.

On the premise girls were being shortchanged and denied opportunities, feminists mounted a 30-year campaign to make education “girl-friendly.” Whether this was really needed is debatable.

Whatever was (or wasn’t) true in the “bad old days,” schools have become so feminized that boyish behavior is being squelched. Christina Hoff Sommers, author of “The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming our Young Men,” says educators now treat boyhood as a pathology. The guiding principle is: “Girls good, boys bad.”

Boys’ rough, active play is discouraged. Even recess has been abolished at some schools. (Great idea, when childhood obesity is a major problem.) Significant numbers of schoolboys take Ritalin for “hyperactivity.”

Dr. James Dobson says boys play in loud, active groups. They build something, then knock it down and run off to do something else. All is action, energy, competition. As a boy I played games that tested my strength and skills against other boys. My sons did this, too. Their sons are the same.

Of course, soldiers do these things. To the extent that boys are kept from such behavior, they are conditioned away from the active young manhood our military needs.

Plenty of people would see this as not only a nonproblem but a positive development. They would be glad if boys do not grow into good soldiers. That’s all very well. I understand. No one wants his son or brother or father to die as a soldier.

But as World War II demonstrated, there comes a time when a nation must fight to survive — when it needs strong, confident young men to step up. Notwithstanding feminist delusions, young women cannot fill that role. They generally lack the strength (and often the temperament) for combat soldiers.

Modern cinema loves the invincible female — nemesis of the depraved, disgusting male. The final Karate Kid film depicted a tall, strong girl defending her weaker, less capable man and defeating their enemies. A girl drives Herbie (the love-bug) to victory over her swinish male rival.

The media follow female golfers around, hoping they will win PGA tournaments, but reality is stubborn. Women can’t make the football team. Girls are not as strong as boys. The “sensitive man” does not take Hill 17. Real life is not a movie. Nor is war.

Feminist delusions and suppression of boyhood help neither society nor the young men we shall need to fight the nation’s real, vicious and mostly male enemies.


Woody Zimmerman is retired from a long career in mathematics, simulation and modeling. His weekly column, “At Large,” runs in the Atlantic Highlands Herald, an Internet newspaper.

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