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SHAPIRO: The Definition of Courage Has Shifted Since Normandy

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Jun 15, 2021, 9:50:16 AM6/15/21
Sunday marked the 77th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. On that
day, Operation Overlord began, launching the Allied invasion of Europe that
would spell the beginning of the end of the Nazi regime. At least 4,400
Allied troops died in the Normandy landings, and another 10,000 were wounded.

As the invasion started, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt took to the
radio airwaves to ask Americans to join him in prayer: “Almighty God: Our
sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a
struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to
set free a suffering humanity ... let our hearts be stout, to wait out the
long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our
sons wheresoever they may be.”

Nearly eight decades later, President Joe Biden had nothing to say or tweet
about the D-Day anniversary. Breaking with bipartisan precedent, Mr. Biden
remained silent on that topic. The next day, however, Mr. Biden did tweet
something noteworthy about bravery: “To transgender Americans across the
country — especially the young people who are so brave — I want you to know
your President has your back.”

Bravery circa 1944: young men charging from the choppy seas of the English
Channel onto the corpse-strewn beaches of Normandy, hellfire raining down
upon them, to liberate a continent.

Bravery circa 2021: young men identifying as women, and vice versa.

Our definitions of bravery have shifted rather dramatically.

Our old definition of courage used to comport with the Aristotelian notion of
virtue. The virtue of courage — andreia, or manliness, in Greek — lay in
recognition of serious risk in pursuit of a heroic telos, a final end. “The
courageous man withstands and fears those things which it is necessary (to
fear and withstand), and on account of the right reason,” Aristotle explains
in “Nichomachean Ethics.” Courage is calculated and calm risk-taking for the
sake of the noble and the good.

Not anymore.

Now, courage lies in authenticity. Authenticity has not been, until recently,
conflated with courage. In fact, authenticity very often cut directly against
the virtue of courage: After all, wallowing in the solipsistic generally
involves ignoring the demands of a higher noble goal. But now, our higher
virtue isn’t in upholding and defending some standard for civilization at
risk to ourselves. Higher virtue lies in finding our personal truths, and
then demanding applause from the rest of the world. Heroism lies in forcing
the world to bow before our subjective ideas of truth and decency.

Or perhaps there’s another possibility. Perhaps the new definition of bravery
does serve some higher goal: the goal of tearing down the old definition of
the good. True courage lies in personally rejecting old systems of thought
and objective truth and in joining with others to demand that all systems of
power be brought low. In this fight, the personal is political: Subjectivism
isn’t the enemy of courage but a new form of courage, since the final good to
be sought is the destruction of truth itself.

It remains to be seen whether a civilization obsessed with tearing down its
most powerful institutions can long remain civilized, or whether a
civilization that discards old-fashioned courage in favor of the newfangled
“bravery” of authenticity can long hold. The early evidence is unpromising.
When called upon to face true enemies of freedom, civilization requires men
willing to charge beaches on behalf of higher truths, not men focused finding
their “inner truths,” many of which bear no resemblance to reality. To use
the same terminology to describe both phenomena is a betrayal of true

: Ben Shapiro is the editor emeritus of
: He wrote this for Creators Syndicate.

Trump won.

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