Monday, January 20, 2014

Lone Survivor: Masculinity Still Lives

We live in a culture where masculinity seems to be completely lost. The proud traditions of Henry V, Louis XIV, and George Washington are gone. Into their place have stepped individuals like Kanye West, Justin Bieber, and Chris Brown. These men are given the spotlight, the attention, and to some extent, adoration of women and society, even though their negative antics are well-known. The generation of our grandfathers is lost, replaced by the generation of the Obamacare hipster.

With such examples it is little wonder why some are declaring the end of men. All people need other figures to inspire them, to look up to, and examples to attempt to emulate. The contemporary examples of manhood- at least those that are well-known, seem lacking, to say the least.

But nevertheless, such examples still do exist, and one of their stories is told in the harrowing account of the Lone Survivor.

On June 27th, 2005, four members of the Navy SEALS- Michael P. Murphy, Danny P. Dietz, Matthew G. Axelson, and Marcus Luttrell were inserted as a recon team to confirm whether a high-value target was in the vicinity.

The operation became compromised when the SEAL team encountered a group of goat herders and, after much agonizing, refused to kill them. The goat herders then went and informed the Taliban of their presence.

The team was beset with enemies. While the exact number remains a question of dispute, it is known that the SEAL team was significantly outnumbered. In the engagement, three of the four men were killed. All fought bravely while severely wounded for their SEAL brothers. Michael Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for voluntarily leaving his cover to get a better communications signal with his superiors- and thus the hope of rescue.

A response helicopter was shot down by an RPG, killing all sixteen people on board.

Marcus Luttrell was the only survivor. He would have died as well if it were not for a local villager named Mohammad Gulab, who followed the dictates of his culture's honor code- Pashtunwali, which demands that a stranger be given shelter from his enemies. Against all calculated measures of self-interest, at the risk of himself and his family, Gulab refused to give Luttrell up to the Taliban. And thus another relationship of 'blood brothers' was born.

The dedication and commitment that Marcus Luttrell and his team showed to each other, Michael Murphy's unhesitating choice to expose himself to enemy fire for the well-being of his men, the bravery that Mohammad Gulab showed to a total stranger in order to live up to his code of honor- all of these things are the epitome of what makes a man great.

Forget about whether the war in Afghanistan is wise or not for a second, that is immaterial. What matters is the strength of these men under the most dire circumstances. They are all living examples of what Shakespeare wrote in Henry V. What he imagined the victor of Agincourt to say to his troops is what the SEALS and Gulab as well as his people showed. They walked the walk.

It is perhaps not surprising that several critics are lambasting Lone Survivor. One (perhaps tellingly, a woman) called it a "jingoistic snuff film" and hilariously tries to portray it as a war on brown people. I like George Carlin a lot, but his old skit is inappropriate here, especially since Gulab was one of those "bad brown people." This is the author, by the way:

Amy Nicholson
Notice that she is not bad looking, but the silly hat, gun, and pose drop her value all the same.

Unsurprisingly her review misses the point entirely. By critiquing the film's violence, she critiques the hardship the men went through. She dismisses their extraordinary dedication to each other in the face of death and a despair that most people cannot imagine. Did the movie take liberties? Yes, many. But that is and will never be the point.

Do not be surprised at any of this. In a feminized culture with horrible male examples, these sorts of men are rare. Perhaps it's so alien to Miss Nicholson that modern masculine examples like this exist that she cannot react properly. Or she feels a deep revulsion, no doubt fueled by her politically correct worldview, of any masculine power of the type displayed in operation Red Wings. Kanye West and Justin Bieber don't exactly threaten her illusions, after all. Perhaps it's both. She contemptuously dismisses these men as "muscles and machismo" and "hard-bodied, hairy-chested, rootin'-tootin', shootin', parachutin', double-cap-crimpin' frogmen, these soldiers who decorate their bunks with baby pictures of themselves next to an American flag and are so nobly eager to sacrifice their lives for each other and their country."

Reviews like this simply further demonstrate to me that masculinity is not entirely lost, need not be directed for female approval, and that the future is entirely ours. Most of us will never face hardship like Marcus Luttrell and his SEAL brothers, but we can be inspired by their example and look up to them as contemporary role models, and try to incorporate the courage and dedication they displayed into our own lives.

That is the legacy that I think a great man will want to leave behind in this world. Lone Survivor Navy SEALS Masculinity Feminism

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