The Last Crusade: The Kid Gloves are Going On
The following is a guest column on the nature of honor and violence and its place in the Last Crusade. It is by C. J. P. Comstock:
Honor has been the butt of many jokes and of much unpleasant deconstructionism, a mere cosmetic application they say, for usual porcine behavior. Any modern academic of orthodox type, upon being triggered by awareness of the existence of the concept, would no doubt pronounce it nearly as great an instrument of injustice as ‘religion,’ by which he would mean Christianity.
It is, perhaps, correct that the current fad of political correctness, if allowed to run to its final and bitter end, would end conflict by programming all to believe that the best way to escape the agony of self-triggering awareness of the innumerable hurts nature, or the self-esteem of invertebrates, endure due to their privileged existence – is to embrace euthanasia as soon as possible: peace through extinction.
However, there would inevitably be a few who refused to sacrifice themselves for the betterment of self-righteousness, or certain of the programmers and conditioners would retain some for labor and recreational use, and so the planet still would not be left in sterile peace, and therefore we must look elsewhere for a mechanism to prevent injustice.
I submit for your consideration a nicely developed sense of honor, in the person of one theoretical man, let us call him J. Watson. A bluff, affable fellow, we may note his broad, open face, with eyes alight for joi de vivre even if his stoicism keeps his features bland.
We may find him a bit of a stuffed shirt, a bit comical, a bit full of himself.
However, before we cross the line of propriety into the territory of rudeness and insult, let us pause for a moment to note the limp in his stride, a debilitating injury caused by a bullet he does not think worth the trouble of remembering; observe the bulge in his overcoat pocket – has he thought to bring along his revolver today?
Certainly the stout walking-stick he carries with the nimble lightness of single-stick man should cause us to consider whether this specimen might not be one if those unevolved types for whom the proper response to “insult” is “thrash.”
After all – it can be so difficult sometimes to distinguish the joi de vivre from that of -guerre in some men’s eyes. What is it which keeps the fool tempted to insult this Watson from incivility?
The uncomfortable awareness of the good doctor’s touchy personal honor.
Let us look larger. One of the horrors of growing up when I did was the constant awareness that all life might be snuffed out any instant by the exchange of nuclear weapons.
It hung over everything. Yet, the threat of nuclear annihilation was what kept each side from using these instumentalities. There was a very clear line, and very certain, unimaginably horrible consequences for crossing that line. And the line was never crossed.
Do you understand?
There is a level of barbarity, let us call it for simplicity’s sake “the state of nature,” in which such behavior is useless.
Gunning down black men because they had bathed in a pond he had want to bathe in, Doc Holiday’s honor was – like Mohammedan “honor-killing” – functional indistinguishable from psychopathy.
Barbaric tribesmen or modern rioters who do not understand restraint and must be controlled by force or the direct threat of force – they have never been taught that retrain and self-possession is a strength, and so are blind to what should be a warning.
We of civilization share some of the blame, of course. We live in civilized peace and thought it was the usual, natural state of humanity.
We both allowed ourselves (or, at least I did) to be non-confrontational because it was easier, to be sarcastic because it was easier to appear clever and knowing than to take the time to understand and explain why, for example, decency was superior to degeneracy.
We did not spank those who needed it (myself included), and now we have a society filled with those who we never whipped into shape. Hence the current amorphous, anarchic, honorless cancer in the body politic.
As the reader may well know, gloves made from the skin of kid of a goat were often worn, in the past, as an elegant accessory to a gentleman’s dress.
While æsthetically valuable, they were somewhat delicate, and to wear them while performing rough tasks such as thrashing a barbarian might damage them.
The gloves were a sort of safety indication – so long as they were worn, the gentleman meant to do no violence. It was when the kid gloves came off, as the idiom has it, revealing the scarred and æsthetically unpleasant knuckles beneath that blood was in the air.
The vileness of the dandy was that he wore the elegant glove over equally elegant, smooth, unscarred hands. The vileness of modernity is to convince boys that fighting must always be wrong, that men do not wear gloves, the better to show how smooth and unscarred their hands are, proof of their unmanliness. The law, too, and culture, shun what was once usually “taking things outside” and in extremis “a matter of honor.”
Certainly many innocent and worthy men were beaten and killed in settling honor. Certainly, violence is not the best way to deal with petty insults to oneself.
I am not advocating vigilantism, or assault.
But I firmly believe that the culture we will build, civilized and peace-loving, will be more peaceful and polite if our neighbors and our enemies know that we will hazard our bodies to restore our honor.
Heinlein was close but incomplete: A society armed and willing to fight is a polite one.
So, now, we will not cane noisy neighbors, nor invite rude patrons at the establishment we visit to step outside to discuss the matter. We will not draw a weapon in anger unless defense or duty require it.
But we should start to move in that direction – not with the goal of violence, but of peace. We must correct or at least contradict the errors preached by modern leftism, when we can do some good.
Mere flaming on Facebook does little more than strengthen the resolve and self-righteousness of the barbarian, I think, but to correct a family member in a face to face conversation will begin the establishment of the understanding – on both sides – that they no longer may spread their virtue-signaling nonsense unchallenged.
Let us begin the slow process of rebuilding civilization with civility. Let us offer correction in charity, for they do not know what they do.
Let us begin by establishing for ourselves the sorts of behavior which are appropriate, and then begin to live that way. When we have established our own propriety, we may begin to inform and correct others – who may already have begun to see a difference between us and those of the world.
If things continue as they are, we can foresee the possibility of violence in defense of family, property, Church, neighbors. Train to be ready, and in addition to dealing with the worst cases, you will develop confidence and even boldness in other matters, including speaking out for the truth.
Let us train, and scar our knuckles. Then, let us don our kid gloves, and pray they need not come off. But let us be ready if they do.