Rough Men Stand Ready

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Author: Doug Mortimer

They
had
the
calm
weathered
faces
of
healthy
men
in
hard
condition. 
They
had
the
eyes
they
always
have,
cloudy
and
grey
like
freezing
water. 
The
firm
set
mouth,
the
hard
little
wrinkles
at
the
corners
of
the
eyes,
the
hard
hollow
meaningless
stare,
not
quite
cruel
and
a
thousand
miles
from
kind.

~
Raymond
Chandler
describing
policemen
in

The
Little
Sister

There
are
any
number
of
books
out
there
devoted
to
famous
lines
from
famous
movies. 
Even
the
casual
moviegoer
will
recognize
“Frankly,
my
dear,
I
don’t
give
a
damn,”
or
“You’re
gonna
need
a
bigger
boat,”
or
“Here’s
looking
at
you,
kid”
(Gone
with
the
Wind
,

Jaws
,
and

Casablanca
,
respectively). 
All
of
those
movies
have
become
entrenched
in
popular
culture,
but
countless
others
have
come
and
gone
without
attaining
such
lofty
stature. 
That
doesn’t
mean
they
are
lacking
in
memorable
dialogue. 
Every
now
and
then
a
line
from
a
relatively
obscure
movie
lodges
in
the
mind
and
refuses
to
go
away.

As
evidence,
I
offer
a
1974
British
thriller
called

The
Black
Windmill

The
film
stars
Michael
Caine
as
Major
John
Tarrant,
an
Army
veteran
who
is
now
an
intelligence
officer
with
MI6,
the
British
counterpart
of
the
CIA. 
When
his
son
David
is
kidnapped
and
held
for
ransom
by
terrorists,
his
colleagues
fail
him. 
In
fact,
they
even
suspect
he
has
staged
the
kidnapping
himself,
seeing
as
he
is
so
calm
and
collected
throughout
the
ordeal.

Tarrant
is
separated
from
his
wife
Alex,
who
complains
that
his
work
has
made
him
distant,
cold
and
unfeeling. 
Since
she
is
so
distraught
by
the
kidnapping,
she
cannot
comprehend
her
estranged
husband’s
ability
to
maintain
his
composure. 
He
explains
to
her,
“If
there
are
things
about
me
that
you
hate,
Alex,
be
grateful
for
them
now. 
They
could
be
our
last
chance
of
seeing
David
alive
again.” 
Classic
British
stiff
upperlipness!

I
don’t
know
why
that
particular
line
in
a
good
but
not
great
thriller
stuck
in
my
mind
over
the
last
half-century,
but
having
looked
at
the
film
again
recently,
I
think
I
know
why.


The
Black
Windmill

was
directed
by
Don
Siegel
three
years
after
he
did

Dirty
Harry

Now
there
was
a
famous
film
with
a
memorable
line
of
dialogue:
“Do
you
feel
lucky? 
Well,
do
you,
punk?”
was
more
than
cool,
it
was
downright
cold-blooded. 
And
it
caught
on,
as
did
“Go
ahead,
make
my
day,”
in

Sudden
Impact
,
a
1983
sequel.

When

Dirty
Harry

came
out,
professional
hand-wringers
responded
predictably. 
Perhaps
it
was
because
the
film
asked
a
question
they
could
not
answer. 
What
better
way
to
thwart
a
psychopath
than
to
assign
a
psychopath-adjacent
police
officer
to
take
him
down?

Perhaps
because
of
space
limitations,
advertising
taglines
for
movies
are
often
spot
on
when
it
comes
to
letting
people
know
what
a
film
is
all
about. 
In
this
case,
one
was
“Dirty
Harry
and
the
homicidal
maniac. 
Harry’s
the
one
with
the
badge.” 
Another
was
“You
don’t
assign
him
to
murder
cases,
you
just
turn
him
loose.”

When

Dirty
Harry

and

The
Black
Windmill

hit
the
screens
in
the
early
1970s,
we
were
in
the
throes
of
second-wave
feminism. 
Anti-male
rumblings
and
grumblings
were
bandied
about
but
the
term
“toxic
masculinity”
was
yet
to
be
coined. 
In
the
subsequent
half-century,
the
anti-male
propaganda
slowly
morphed
till
it
became
anti-masculine,
which
is
not
quite
the
same
thing. 
Active
masculinity
(shooting,
fighting,
competing)
is
bad,
but
passive
masculine
traits
such
as
stoicism
and
self-control
are
just
as
bad. 
Men
are
often
described
as
lacking
in
emotional
intelligence

which
is
the
same
thing
as
saying
they
are
emotional
retards! 
Men,
tsk
tsk,
just
aren’t
in
touch
with
their
feelings
the
way
women
are.

Then
at
some
point,
the
ante
was
upped
to
the
point
that
masculinity
and
modern
society
could
not
be
reconciled. 
Eating
meat…hanging
out
at
gun
ranges…ogling
good-looking
women…passing
gas
audibly

you
know
who
you
are! 
Such
behavior
was,
in
a
word,
inappropriate,
not
just
in
certain
situations
but
in
all
situations. 
Surely,
there
is
no
place
for
such
behavior
in
our
world…or
is
there? 
Consider
the
following
quotation:

People
sleep
peaceably
in
their
beds
at
night
only
because
rough
men
stand
ready
to
do
violence
on
their
behalf.

There
is
some
dispute
as
to
the
exact
wording
of
the
saying
(e.g.,
We
sleep
safe
in
our
beds
because
rough
men
stand
ready
in
the
night
to
visit
violence
on
those
who
would
do
us
harm.”)
but
the
meaning
remains
clear. 
There
is
also
a
dispute
as
to
its
origin. 
Winston
Churchill
was
sometimes
credited
as
a
source,
and
it
doesn’t
sound
out
of
character,
but
as
it
turns
out,
George
Orwell
was
the
author. 
Yet
it
seems
that
Orwell
was
riffing
on
a
theme
inspired
by
Rudyard
Kipling.

About
as
popular
as
any
author
in
the
English-speaking
world
in
his
heyday,
Kipling
has
fallen
out
of
favor,
not
because
his
stories
and
poetry
are
lacking
in
merit
but
because
he
was
an
apologist
for
colonialism,
and
we
all
know
that
will
never
do. 
His
poem
“The
White
Man’s
Burden”
is
probably
sufficient
to
prohibit
him
from
ever
again
appearing
in
a
university
English
literature
course,
and
I’d
be
surprised
if
any
of
his
works
still
grace
the
pages
of
literary
anthologies
aimed
at
high
school
students. 
Even
so,

The
Jungle
Book

and

Just
So
Stories

have
delighted
generations
of
children. 
It
is
surprising
that
the
woke
folks
at
Disney
have
not
disavowed
their

Jungle
Book

franchise
and
sent
it
the
way
of

Song
of
the
South
.

Kipling,
however,
was
much
more
than
a
colonialist. 
His
poem
“If
–”
reads
like
a
manosphere
manifesto. 
Another
famous
poem,
“Tommy,”
is
particularly
pertinent
to
this
essay,
as
it
is
supposedly
the
work
that
inspired
Orwell’s
quotation.

“Tommy”
is
British
slang
for
a
soldier
in
the
service
of
the
crown. 
In
the
narrative
poem,
a
soldier
tries
to
gain
entrance
to
a
bar
only
to
find
out
that
his
kind
just
aren’t
welcome. 
During
peacetime
the
civilians
are
“Makin’
mock
o’
uniforms
that
guard
you
while
you
sleep.”
 But
the
“uniforms”
are
welcome
indeed
when
British
soldiers
or
redcoats
[the
“thin
red
line
of
‘eroes”]
are
needed. 
If
that
phrase
sounds
familiar,
that’s
because

The
Thin
Red
Line

was
the
name
of
a
1962
James
Jones
war
novel
as
well
as
movie
adaptations
in
1964
and
1998. 
An
offshoot
of
that
phrase
is
the
thin
blue
line,
a
reference
to
the
police
as
the
borderline
separating
order
from
disorder.

So
that
was
why
the
line
from

The
Black
Windmill

stuck
in
my
head. 
Is
there
no
place
in
society
for
men,
albeit
sorely
lacking
in
diplomacy,
who
are
willing
to
risk
their
lives
to
keep
the
peace? 
Even
the
Beatitudes
tell
us
that
“Blessed
are
the
peacemakers!” 
Granted,
Christ
didn’t
have
the
likes
of
Clint
Eastwood
or
Michael
Caine
in
mind
when
he
said
that. 
Nevertheless,
as
the
ranks
of
law
enforcement
have
dwindled
has
society
become
more
peaceful? 
During
the
George
Floyd
riots
the
rough
men
were
standing
by
but
were
ordered
to
stand
down. 
The
cry
went
out
to
defund
the
police
even
as
they
were
being
neutered. 
The
thin
blue
line
was
barely
a
filament.

The
word
“rough”
is
a
masculine
adjective. 
Rough
riders,
rough
around
the
edges,
sleeping
rough,
rough
and
ready,
roughshod,
rough
and
tumble,
roughneck,
rough-hewn…all
have
a
masculine
connotation. 
Smooth
is
preferable
to
rough
but
smoothness
can’t
be
wished
into
existence. 
When
deployed
properly,
rough
men,
like
sandpaper,
can
smooth
things
out. 
There
have
always
been
virtuous
people
who
will
do
right
even
when
no
one
is
looking. 
Unfortunately,
other
people
are
held
in
check
only
by
fear
of
punishment. 
If
so,
inflicted
by
whom? 
In
the
absence
of
rough
men,
uniformed
or
civilian,
what
is
there
to
fear?

I
don’t
think
I
need
to
issue
a
spoiler
alert
by
saying
that
Michael
Caine
prevails
in

The
Black
Windmill

He
goes
rogue
and
tracks
the
kidnappers
to
the
eponymous
windmill
where
his
son
is
being
held
hostage. 
Then
he
visits
violence
on
those
who
would
do
harm
to
him
and
his
flesh
and
blood.

You’ve
probably
seen
plenty
of
movies
with
violent
resolutions. 
Revenge
plotlines
are
as
common
as
boy
meets
girl. 
While
rough
men
remain
suspect
in
modern
society,
where
would
movies
be
without
them? 
In
fact,
I’ve
long
had
a
pet
theory
that
a
leading
man
in
motion
pictures
must
appear
capable
of
killing
another
human
being. 
He
need
not
do
that
in
every
movie,
and
many
scripts
may
not
call
upon
him
to
do
so,
but
he
must
be
able
to
act
as
though
he’s
capable
of
it.

Rough
men
are
a
vital
implement
in
society’s
tool
kit. 
Send
them
into
exile
and
you
are
signing
a
death
warrant
for
your
society.

Original Story on AVFM
These stories are from AVoiceForMen.com.
(Changing the cultural narrative)

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