Let’s dispense with the obvious.
When most people think of Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) — if they think of him at all — they probably conjure images of two moments, both of which occurred on one of the worst days in American history.
That was, of course, Jan. 6, 2021, when the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a mob of election deniers seeking to halt the certification of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. Many of those insurrectionists are now facing prison terms for sedition and other crimes.
In the first memorable image, a fist-pumping Hawley walks past the insurrectionists on his way to vote against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. You guys are awesome, his body language says. I am with you all the way.
The second image is a clip of Hawley fleeing that very same mob after it breached the Capitol. In that one, he is also pumping his arms, but that’s because he’s running away at a fast clip. When it was shown during one of the House Jan. 6 Committee’s hearings, spectators burst out laughing.
Now, I’m not suggesting Hawley was wrong to run, but in doing so, he revealed himself as a coward, a hypocrite and a phony. Not to mention shameless.
On Tuesday, Hawley’s book “Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs” was released by the conservative publishing house Regnery, coinciding with his 2024 reelection campaign. On Wednesday, Hawley tweeted that his book had “triggered” the left, so “get your copy now.”
Hawley posing as an expert on courage is as credible as Donald Trump posing as an expert on marital fidelity.
Among the many regrettable things in Hawley’s book is his un-ironic use of the metaphor of running when describing how to behave like a man:
“Running towards the monsters of your life requires courage.”
“Run toward the darkness that threatens your family.”
“If your life is relentlessly about you, you will never run towards danger.”
“Manhood,” which reads like a Sunday sermon, is an extended rant about how American men need to rediscover their manliness by modeling themselves on biblical figures such as Adam and Abraham. Since we are, in Hawley’s view, witnessing “the collapse of American manhood,” blame must be assigned. A culprit must be found.
Aaaaand, no surprise here, it’s the “woke left!” that’s turning men to mush. Not to mention “the liberal elite,” “the educated elite,” “the cultural elite” and all of the other godless folks who control American business, academia, the media and Hollywood.
“To a remarkable, historically unusual extent,” Hawley writes, “America’s cultural institutions are now dominated by a small, homogenous class of individuals who graduated from the same coterie of elite schools and share the same Epicurean, mostly atheistic world view they learned there.”
I guess intellectual dishonesty is to be expected from a man who poses as a blue-collar hero but doesn’t bother to mention in biographical passages that his father was a banker, or that he attended a private prep school, Stanford University and Yale Law; clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.; taught constitutional law; worked as a state attorney general; and has basically been cushioned in privilege his entire life. (“In college,” he writes, “I took up rowing.” Quelle surprise!)
I can’t really account for Hawley’s bizarre and frequent use of the word “Epicurean” as a synonym for liberals or progressives, except that he may think it makes him sound like an intellectual. (Epicurus, by the way, was a Greek philosopher who taught that the point of life was to attain pleasure. He is associated with hedonism, the opposite of stoicism, which emphasizes virtue as its own reward.)
In any case, writes Hawley, who was raised Methodist and now attends an evangelical Presbyterian church, America is a Christian nation, founded on biblical principles that have somehow gotten lost as American men, told their masculinity is toxic, have turned into simpering mama’s boys who exercise no agency and have no ambition.
Well, he doesn’t use those exact words, but that’s pretty much what he means when he writes, “Much of today’s left seems to welcome men who are passive and tame, who will do as they are told and sit in their cubicles, eyes affixed to their screen.” (Where, he presumes, they are watching pornography instead of getting married, working and raising their children.)
This is a shockingly weak analysis of America’s long-standing social problems.
In Hawley’s America, there is no systemic racism or sexism, no mass incarceration, no educational inequity and no income inequality that might account for some of the seemingly intractable problems that beset us.
In Hawley’s America, every social problem is due to the dearth of manly men. Having been brainwashed by liberals — excuse me, Epicureans — men instead seek pleasure and avoid responsibility.
I’m sorry, but there is not a man in America who needs a lecture from Josh Hawley.
Especially not about courage.