Home Budget & Tax News The Definition of Courage Has Shifted Since Normandy

The Definition of Courage Has Shifted Since Normandy

By Ben Shapiro

Last 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, Biden remained silent on that topic. The next day, however, 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 courage.

Ben Shapiro, 37, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and editor-in-chief of DailyWire.com. He is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “How To Destroy America In Three Easy Steps,” “The Right Side Of History,” and “Bullies.” To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2021 CREATORS.COM

Ben Shapiro
Ben Shapiro was hired by Creators Syndicate at age 17 to become the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the United States. His columns are printed in major newspapers and websites including The Riverside Press-Enterprise and the Conservative Chronicle, Townhall.com, ABCNews.com, WorldNetDaily.com, Human Events, FrontPageMag.com, FamilySecurityMatters.com. His columns have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor,Chicago Sun-Times, Orlando Sentinel, The Honolulu Advertiser,The Arizona Republic, Claremont Review of Books and RealClearPolitics.com. He has been the subject of articles by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Associated Press, and The Christian Science Monitor; he has been quoted on "The Rush Limbaugh Show," "The Dr. Laura Show," at CBSNews.com, in the New York Press, The Washington Times, and The American Conservative.

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