Why America’s become sissified

By Walter Williams

“America: A Sissified Nation” was the title of an August 2002 column that brought in hundreds of favorable responses, mostly from American men and women who were not sissies. In that column, I argued that we Americans have become sissified and are meekly giving up essential liberties in the name of fighting terrorism in exchange for trivial amounts of security.

Instead of allowing the war on terrorism to provide political cover for taking our liberties, the president ought to give credible notice to countries who harbor, aid and abet terrorists that they will face massive military retaliation which would not exclude nuclear weapons should our intelligence resources discover them to be the origin of a terrorist attack.

Allow me to speculate on how we became a sissified nation. In a word or two, we’ve become “Oprahized” and “Springerized.”

You say, “Williams, what do you mean by that?”

It’s simple: We’ve become a nation increasingly ruled by emotions and feelings – in a word, feminized. Men and women have different psychological make-ups. Women tend to be more nurturing, sensitive and submissive. They demonstrate greater feelings of love and tend to exhibit grief to a greater extent than men. On the other hand, men tend to be more competitive, aggressive and hostile than women.

Female characteristics are vital to a well-ordered society, for they exert a civilizing influence. I’d never want to live in a society where women didn’t have a major role in the rearing of children and management of the household. However, sensitivity, nurturing and a capacity to exhibit grief are not the best characteristics for political leadership.

We’ve just finished an outpouring of sensitivity, emotions and exhibition of grief on the first anniversary of a terrorist attack that’s been compared to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which ushered us into World War II. But let’s compare the one-year anniversaries of both attacks.

Jennifer Harper writes in her article “No Time for the Mawkish” in the Sept. 11 Washington Times, “Nobody was for ‘healing’ on Dec. 7, 1942, and ‘closure’ was the last thing anybody wanted,” adding, “no flowers, no teddy bears and no exploration of the national angst. No presidential admonitions to think of Shinto as a religion of peace, no appeals to understand the frustrations that drove the misunderstood Nazis to rape Poland and bomb London.”

First lady Eleanor Roosevelt told Americans why she opposed any commemoration of Pearl Harbor: “It is not a date for a holiday; it is a date that should make us work.” Back then, Americans of my generation hadn’t become sissified and controlled by emotion. We wanted blood and vengeance that ultimately saw the complete, merciless, devastating destruction of the evil Axis powers.

Harper writes, “The Americans of that era, now fading swiftly into the unremembered past, had no time for such navel-gazing.” The Dec. 8, 1942, New York Times wrote: “We have no instinct for glory. What we do surely have, collectively, is a determination to put all we possess into this necessary and unpleasant task. Our emotions are deep and not noisily expressed, [but] we know that we are destined to play a decisive part, not on this continent alone, but throughout the world. That knowledge steadies us, and brings us together.”

I have just as much sorrow for the victims and their families of last year’s Sept. 11 attack as any other American. Rather than last week’s commemorative celebrations, emotional outpouring – not to mention political showboating – not doing anything publicly would have spoken volumes. But if we just had to do something to mark the occasion, we would have honored ourselves and the victims more by a full-scale air and sea attack on Iraq.