Wimps and Barbarians

Terrence Moore originally wrote this article for the Claremont Review of Books back in 2003. He begins and ends with some thoughts about Murphy Brown which may or may not mean anything to you, but once you get past that, you’ll find what I think is a well-thought-out and well-written article on an important topic. Here’s a couple quotes to whet the appetite:

For more than a decade I have been in a position to see young men in the making. As a Marine, college professor, and now principal of a K-12 charter school, I have deliberately tried to figure out whether the nation through its most important institutions of moral instruction—its families and schools—is turning boys into responsible young men. Young women, always the natural judges of the male character, say emphatically “No.” In my experience, many young women are upset, but not about an elusive Prince Charming or even the shortage of “cute guys” around. Rather, they have very specific complaints against how they have been treated in shopping malls or on college campuses by immature and uncouth males, and even more pointed complaints against their boyfriends or other male acquaintances who fail to protect them. At times, they appear desperately hopeless. They say matter-of-factly that the males around them do not know how to act like either men or gentlemen. It appears to them that, except for a few lucky members of their sex, most women today must choose between males who are whiny, incapable of making decisions, and in general of “acting like men,” or those who treat women roughly and are unreliable, unmannerly, and usually stupid. [Moore labels these groups as “barbarians” and “wimps,” respectively.]


A close look at the culture in which boys are raised reveals not only that they are no longer encouraged to become vigorous and responsible men, but also that practically every factor affecting their development is profoundly hostile to the ideals and practices of traditional manhood and the painstaking steps necessary to attain it. The demanding regime of physical and moral instruction that used to turn boys into men and the larger cultural forces that supported that instruction have been systematically dismantled by a culture that ostensibly enables all individuals but in reality disables men. “It’s too easy!” complained John the Savage of the overly efficient, overly sexual, overly youthful, overly fun Brave New World. That dehumanizing tyranny of pleasure, described by Aldous Huxley, resembles the world of easy effort and easy virtue that entices adolescent males today to indulge in their appetites at the expense of their nobler longings and passions.

There’s a lot of good stuff in here to think through and discuss. Go read it and see what you think. Here’s a link to Al Mohler’s commentary on the same piece.



  1. I’ve got Moore’s number. He’s a marine, so he can’t get over that men are being brought up who are not marine material. The dad who is not the “sole breadwinner and authority” and does not run a fundamentalist, drill sergeant’s household will breed only wimps. Who, by the way, are even more worthless than barbarians, because barbarians at least can be made useful.

    This superior being is pretending to be all noble and fine, but he really just wants to rifle-butt our faces into the deck, then make us swab it clean with our own spit. I hope somebody Gomer Pyles him, though only in print. Of course even that can’t happen in a Christian conservative blogosphere where only suitable opinions get published.

  2. Knarf…appreciate your comments, but it seems like you’ve got the wrong number. after I saw what you said I went back and read his article again, but didn’t see much of anything that would support the kind of read on this guy you mentioned. did I miss something here? if you don’t like what he said, that’s fine, you have a right to say so…but at least demonstrate from what he’s written that he is what you say he is.

    not exactly sure of the purpose for your final comment. as you can see, I don’t have any qualms about posting suitable or unsuitable opinions, so long as they have something to do with the topic. the bigger concern is whether or not they’re good (i.e. supportable) opinions.

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