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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 8/7/11

Mayor Bloomberg's Bold New Initiative Is Magnanimous

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In ancient Greek the word "andreia" means both courage and manliness. As the ancient Greeks understood courage, courage is the virtue connected with thumos. But it does not necessarily follow that only men can cultivate the virtue of courage. Women may also cultivate the virtue of courage.


In his controversial book Manliness (2006), Harvey C. Mansfield of Harvard University makes one important observation that I myself do not consider to be controversial: "The entire enterprise of modernity . . . could be understood as a project to keep manliness unemployed" (page 230).


But what about those fellows in the Navy SEAL team that invaded Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan? OK, we may have to allow the possibility of certain exceptions to Mansfield's generalization. However, allowing for certain exceptions, we should recognize that Shakespeare's character Othello no longer represents a viable cultural ideal, as the characters of heroic epic poetry such as Achilles and Hector and Odysseus and Aeneas and Beowulf and Sir Gawain and King Arthur once did.


With modernity, men and women by and large are challenged to channel their Warrior energies into more socially acceptable forms than one-to-one physical combat.


For many of the black and Latino young men that Mayor Bloomberg hopes to influence, they are being asked to pull themselves up from their bootstraps and channel their energies in socially acceptable ways. Thomas Chatterton Williams has written a memoir about his own personal efforts to pull himself up by his bootstraps, Losing My Cool: How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-Hop Culture (2010).


Like Luke Skywalker, Mayor Bloomberg has learned how to channel the "force" of moral uprightness and greatness of spirit far better than our quixotic African American president has. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Senator Obama talked a far better game about change and hope than he has played as president. What a disappointment President Obama has been! If Mayor Bloomberg were a Democrat, I would urge him to challenge President Obama in the Democratic primary in 2012. However, because Mayor Bloomberg is an independent, I would not encourage him to run as an independent in the 2012 presidential election. His candidacy as an independent in 2012 would guarantee the election of the Republican presidential candidate, just as Ralph Nader's candidacy in 2000 guaranteed the emergence of George W. Bush as president.



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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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