Mandeville, LA - Exclusive Audio and Transcript - This is Mike's response to Andrew from New York, which you can listen to in today's audio. "The New York, Yankee elite cannot see the attraction or the worthiness of the Southern gentleman. No wonder you bombed us back into the stone ages, Andrew. You’re a perfect example. This is exactly the attitude that your forefathers had. They can’t understand the usefulness of these guys hanging out at their plantations. Let me give you an example of some of these guys that you just described were useless. Jefferson was one, Washington, Madison, Taylor of Caroline, Mason, Richard Henry Lee. I can go on for about another three and a half hours if you like. They all fit that character that I described, that Weaver was describing there. You don’t see the usefulness of those guys. That’s interesting, isn’t it, folks? I appreciate the window into the fact that not much has changed since 1861, Andrew. Thank you very much."
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: When Mark Steyn was talking about how people are told today that life is hard, you can’t raise your own family, feed your own kids, put food on your own table, you have to have us. You can’t even count the calories in your kid’s meal. You have to have us do that. When he was talking about that, he said never mind that your forefathers came to this country and braved a wilderness, had to hack trees down that were in their way to make their way to someplace they could finally stop, cut more trees down, take hand tools and make logs they could use to make cabins out of and build a home. Then they had to build the furniture. Then they had to build anything they wanted to use on the farm and what have you. Today, you can’t even count your kids’ calories. You’ve got some guy in a basement in Washington, D.C. counting calories.
He was talking to the young men out there that don’t seem to be, and we’re not training, as fine young gentlemen. We’re not training them as gentlemen. We’re not training them as the masters of their households. We’re telling them they’re ninnies, as Steyn likes to say. We’re telling them they’re incapable, no, no, you don’t do that. Women do that these days. They wear the shoulder pads around here. Folks, I believe that that is a larger part of the problem than any of you will admit or that many of you will admit, should I say, and certainly outside of this show’s audience, the most educated and erudite in the entire country. Where has the American male gone, the virile vigorous, potent, imaginative male? Where has he gone?
I’ve been reading this book, The Southern Tradition at Bay. I’ve been talking about gentlemanly behavior as it is missing today. I came across this passage right now in Richard Weaver’s The Southern Tradition at Bay. I want to read this to you, a short passage, very brief.
It is axiomatic that in any society self-made men will imitate those for whom greatness is a birthright.
Mike: So the greatness that we imitate is what, Elton John? What’s the greatness that we imitate? NFL players that father eleven kids and are married to none of the mothers? That’s a great example, isn’t it? That’s a way to build a homestead, isn’t it? What solidified, Ward Cleaver-looking American, masculine, manly, gentlemanly man is emulated today? My friends, we’re going to have to make them. Me and you are going to have to make those men. You’re going to have to become that man. For the sake of your children, you’re going to have to become that man.
This explains the tremendous pressure to conform to the gentleman type. The sons of yeomen who passed by way of education and success at law into the upper ranks of society—and there were many such—must have felt doubly obligated to accept the point of view of the group in which they were parvenus. [Mike: In other words they were observant of, jealous of. Listen to this, Mr. Gruss, and you too, young Eric. Listen, all you young men out there.] The gentleman’s ideal of behavior has been in all periods the same; he is a self-justifying type, who feels that he does not have to earn his position by special exertions. That is to say, his important lies not in what he can do, but in what he is. The gentleman expresses an end in himself, and the display of skills, powers, and cleverness alone does not gain one admission to his circle. These are things needed by those who have not yet arrived in the world, their exhibition a sign that the possessor is still in process of becoming. The gentleman, on the other hand, is heir to the aristocratic knowledge that he owes his place to the structure of society and not to anything that he can do especially well. There is a persisting belief that to make a man a specialist is somehow to interfere with his performance as a whole man. The career of a gentleman is being a gentleman. The social and educational regimen of the Old South was accordingly such as to prepare the fortunate for public life, to produce men of integrity and decision, who could talk well and wear the graces—not quill-drivers or “career men” of letters, or explorers of the scientific world.
Mike: Think about it, the career of the gentleman is being a gentleman. His importance lies not in what he can do but in what he is. That is some heavy stuff there. Andrew is in New York, next up. Hello, Andrew.
Caller Andrew: Good morning, Mr. Church. How are you this morning?
Mike: Just fine, sir, thank you.
Caller Andrew: I’m just calling because I was listening to the excerpt from the book you were just reading about what a gentleman is and who a gentleman is, etc., etc. I couldn’t help but think, as you were reading it, that the description of the person sounded like the most useless individual that I can imagine. He doesn’t strive to do anything or be anything other than this person that lives off his family name or something, and the sense of entitlement that goes along with that. It sounds like an aristocratic elite. I really don’t think that’s what America is about. I think that’s more of a European concept than an American concept.
Mike: He’s writing about Southern gentlemen. That is as far away from a European concept as I believe you could travel.
Caller Andrew: It’s similar, though. If you look back at the Edwardian times --
Mike: This is absolutely perfect. The New York, Yankee elite cannot see the attraction or the worthiness of the Southern gentleman. No wonder you bombed us back into the stone ages, Andrew. You’re a perfect example. This is exactly the attitude that your forefathers had. They can’t understand the usefulness of these guys hanging out at their plantations. Let me give you an example of some of these guys that you just described were useless. Jefferson was one, Washington, Madison, Taylor of Caroline, Mason, Richard Henry Lee. I can go on for about another three and a half hours if you like. They all fit that character that I described, that Weaver was describing there. You don’t see the usefulness of those guys. That’s interesting, isn’t it, folks? I appreciate the window into the fact that not much has changed since 1861, Andrew. Thank you very much. That’s as enlightening a phone call as I have received in days.
End Mike Church Show Transcript