Photo Credit: wiki
Lieutenant Commander McCain greeting President Richard Nixon in May 1973

If you are puzzled by “homegrown” Islamic terrorism in America, if you are wondering why many youth join “radical” or “extremist” Islamic organizations, you may want to consider, among the various causes of such phenomena, certain hitherto unexamined facts about contemporary American “culture.”

One such fact is the absence of the heroic.

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The concept of the heroic was once propagated by Hollywood Westerns, personified, for instance, by Gary Cooper in “High Noon.” Such heroic personalities have been replaced by urban misfits, portrayed, for example, by physically unimpressive types like Dustin Hoffman.  But this touches only the surface of the anti-heroic.

Probing more deeply, the heroic, which portrays man as larger than life, has been buried by what is small or the ordinary. Shakespeare is dead, replaced by the meaninglessness of Jean-Paul Sartre’s Nausea.

The ordinary has become the preoccupation of the cinema. It has been endowed with philosophical trappings, such as the college-bred doctrine of moral equivalency or relativism, a doctrine that denies black-and-white distinctions, such as “good” and “evil.” The old Hollywood ending in which good triumphs over evil is now ancient history.

To make things even clearer, ponder Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman,” whose central character is rightly named “Willy Loman,” signifying the anti-heroic.

Indeed, the anti-heroic, which has conquered the American mind, was vividly exemplified in Barack Obama’s servile apology for American greatness. Moreover, Obama’s retreat from America’s pivotal role in the Middle East may be compared to Miller’s Death of a Salesman translated from the stage in Broadway to American foreign policy!

We see this demise in America’s anti-war movement and anti-war movies. We are witnessing the senility of American culture. This senility goes against the grain of youth. It clashes with youth’s full-blooded imagination and dreams of greatness. Small wonder that some young Americans have joined a Muslim terrorist group that exalts self-sacrifice in the seemingly heroic cause of Islam.

Contrast the moral relativism and milquetoast nihilism of American colleges and universities. Barack Obama ingested the moral anemia of academia. Hence his less than heroic forays on the golf course, while much of the world is succumbing to the perdition of Islam.

But now you may begin to understand why some American youth want more than Willy Lomans.  And why the story of his life, as told by the media upon his passing, could not help but to glorify Senator John McCain –  may his soul rest in peace

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Professor Paul Eidelberg (Ph.D. University of Chicago) is a political scientist now residing in Jerusalem. He has drafted a Constitution for the State of Israel. His primary interest is the convergence of science and Torah. His magnum opus is "Rescuing America from Nihilism: A Judeo-Scientific Approach" (Lightcather 2014).