John Kerry, Teddy Roosevelt and “Manning-Up”

June 4, 2014

In an interview on NBC, Secretary of State John Kerry told American turn-coat Edward Snowden to “man-up” and come back to the U.S. and face the consequences of his actions.

Mr. Kerry's extemporaneous use of this term has ignited controversy. MarketWatch called it a "dated phrase." The commentariat of the Left is near-apoplectic: Liberal blogger Kevin Gosztola calls the term "jingoistic" (does Kevin, a college student, know what "jingoistic" means?). The Los Angeles Times' Robin Abcarian is also upset: "We need to move away from the idea that masculinity and courage are synonymous terms." Salon's Natasha Lennard called Kerry "moronic" for using what she called a "misogyny-soaked" phrase.

Yikes; for once I feel (somewhat) sorry for Secretary Kerry. Having and displaying physical and moral courage – "manning-up" - traditionally has been a masculine trait. This is part of the biblical narrative, to be sure (King David and the Apostle "endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus" Paul come to mind). Yet do not both biology and innate intuition tell us that men and women, while equal, are different? Is it not reasonable, then, to ask if they are – in their essence as humans – distinct in some observable ways and that, therefore, they should have at least some different roles?

Theodore Roosevelt was a man of indisputable manliness. He personified the toughness and tenderness of what manhood should be about. The Rough Rider who charged up San Juan Hill also once remarked that a baby's hand is the most beautiful of God's creations. He loved wistful poetry as much as he liked Viking sagas. He identified fox-sparrow feathers on the White House lawn and killed a rhinoceros still on display in the Smithsonian. I'll close with a quote from him:

“We need the iron qualities that go with true manhood,” said TR in a 1901 speech in Colorado. "We need the positive virtues of resolution, of courage, of indomitable will, of power to do without shrinking the rough work that must always be done."