Sympathy for Monsters: Vampires, Werewolves, Criminals, Terrorists

By | June 1, 2015 | 0 Comments

When I was a kid, I enjoyed being scared by monster films. There was Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula, a repulsive, creepy vampire. There was Boris Karloff as Frankenstein’s monster, a frightening ogre. There was Lon Chaney Jr. as the Wolf Man, who changed into a bloodthirsty beast when the moon was full. And best of all, there was “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man,” where we could cheer for our favorite monster.
True, these monsters occasionally had their sympathetic moments. But it was clear that they were, in fact, monsters. The problem of the other characters in the films was how to escape from them – and eventually to kill them.
Those were simpler times. We had recently come through a terrible war, in which we and our allies crushed the brutal tyrannies of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. We had learned a horribly costly lesson on the dangers of ignoring evil until it grew too large to be ignored.
In those days, we were still unashamed to use the words “good” and “evil.” We had not yet heard “nuanced” used as a code word for, “I’m too lazy, too apathetic, and too cowardly to do anything about the current problem, so I’ll pretend it’s so complex that I can just sit here and study it endlessly.”
In those days, we could watch monster movies, eat fistfuls of popcorn – and still know how to react when we encountered real monsters.
But then things changed. In high school, American history and civics were replaced by “social studies.” Schools of education turned out teachers who had a leftist bias, which they transmitted to their students. If you doubt this, compare the anti-American “A People’s History of the United States” by leftist Howard Zinn with “A Patriot’s History of the United States” by Schweikart and Allen. The problem is that Zinn’s book is one of the most widely assigned texts in high schools and universities, while the “Patriot’s History” is sold by single copies. The leftist educational establishment is firmly entrenched.
Classes and textbooks took on a pacifist tint. Schools adopted “zero tolerance” for weapons, as a response to growing street violence. But no one thought to restore the religious and moral education that had allowed most boys to carry knives to school – Boy Scout knives – and yet there were no stabbings. No one thought to restore ROTC that had allowed master sergeants with combat ribbons to teach us how to handle firearms safely – and yet there were no shootings.
Then “zero tolerance” was pushed to ridiculous extremes. One small boy was suspended for bringing a tiny plastic toy gun to school. An older boy went to the high-school library to find a book on the Marine Corps, but he was told that they had no “violent” books. Yet the street violence continued – and spilled over into schools. No one understood that if boys do not have positive male role models, they may find negative ones in the local gang or cult.
This effort to demasculinize boys may have a perverse effect. Banning dodgeball and tag from schools, and removing adventure books, may play a role in boys’ attraction to extreme sports and other dangerous or perhaps illegal activities. If you make healthy male activities impossible, you make unhealthy activities inevitable.
“Modern” educators never heard of Jeff Cooper, who taught us:

Unarmed men, and unarmed nations, can only flee from evil. And evil is not overcome by fleeing from it.

So schools pushed their “zero tolerance” for weapons, until it became zero tolerance for common sense. They tried to raise a generation that could not recognize evil, much less fight it. To paraphrase Dennis Prager, instead of teaching young people to fight evil, they taught them that it is evil to fight − thus facilitating the triumph of evil.
Besides, an increasing percent of Americans attend a university. They have to. High school was dumbed down to the point that graduates are poorly educated and lack essential job skills. And at the university, they are exposed to professors who are frankly leftist, and who do their best to undermine Judeo-Christian and American values.
So it is no surprise that the current generation of young people empathizes with monsters. Vampire films follow one another with regularity − and make money with equal regularity. Preteens and teens identify with the sympathetically portrayed young vampires. Many young people have trouble “fitting in.” They see themselves as outliers − not quite as odd as vampires, but still peculiar and not accepted by their peers.
The moral implications of doing evil to attain eternal life escape them completely. But then, the moral implications of almost everything escape them. Alarming numbers of young people openly admit not only to cheating on tests, but also to shoplifting and other forms of theft. Such behavior is now accepted as normal, while the few who object are seen as eccentric.
Second only to movie vampires are werewolves. Here we see even more clearly the underlying dynamic. A normal person is bitten by a werewolf, then becomes one himself or herself. Evil is not intrinsic. People don’t do bad things because they are bad. No, some external force acts on them, impelling them to criminality. Here it is the bite of an imaginary beast. Elsewhere, it may be economic or social factors.
How often we hear, “Poverty causes crime.” But if so, why did the crime rate continue to fall during the severe recession of 2008? And why is the crime rate now rising despite the Obama economic “recovery”? And we even hear, “What the Middle East needs is jobs, because poverty causes terrorism.” But if so:

● Why was Osama Bin Laden the son of a billionaire?

● Why is his chief deputy, Ayman Al Zawahiri, a physician and the son of a professor?

● Why is the underwear bomber a trained engineer and the son of a prominent banker?

● Why were the 9/11 terrorists upper-middle-class young men?

● Why does Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, have a degree in engineering from an American university? Perhaps his engineering training helped him behead journalist Danny Pearl more efficiently.

● Why are Haitians and other poverty-stricken peoples not prominent among terrorists? Why aren’t poor Mexicans strapping on explosive belts?

No, economic factors are not the principal causes of crime or terrorism. That is leftist drivel. Money, education, and job opportunities are no guarantee that a person will not become a terrorist. Josef Mengele, the camp physician at Auschwitz who performed unspeakable experiments on unanesthetized prisoners, came from a wealthy family and had both an M.D. and a Ph.D.
If we raise young people without a solid core of moral values, there is danger that the emptiness at their center may be filled with toxic material from an outside source. Rather than the bite of a mythical creature, it can be exposure to extremist fanatics abroad, or exposure to radical websites or violent street gangs at home.
Real monsters cannot be overcome with silver bullets or wooden stakes. To overcome real monsters requires courage, clear vision, and common sense − all of which are in short supply. It requires bringing up the next generation with a solid core of moral values.
If you can do this without religion, more power to you. But I know of no evidence that a purely secular society can preserve its moral values and transmit them down the generations. I know of no evidence that a purely secular society can even preserve itself. In fact, Western Europe is proving the exact opposite.
Before we can hope to overcome real monsters, we have to resolve to fight them. And before we can do that, we have to learn to recognize them. We have to stop calling violent criminals “victims of society” who make “mistakes.” And we have to stop calling terrorists “militants” or “activists,” while trying to make excuses for them.
It is not a hopeful sign that young people now see vampires and werewolves not as horrible monsters, but as unfortunate, misunderstood outcasts. Sympathy for monsters inevitably leads to lack of sympathy for their victims. And that leads to more victims.

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