Neo-Pagan Manhood Movement

There’s a strange movement among white Western men of this “alpha male.” High testosterone, high energy, strength training, US military culture, and libido are emphasized, with references to both Jesus and Valhalla (despite being completely contradictory) thrown in for good measure. Statues of masculine men from ancient Rome and Greece are practically worshiped and idolized as paragons of masculinity and “alpha male.”

Pagan Roots of Christianity

It seems like this ties into the pagan roots of Christianity. Romulus, the founder of the city of Rome, was said to have been raised up to Heaven and begotten by God and became the Roman deity Quirinius. After Jesus ﷺ was risen up to Heaven, various stories about him proliferated. He only called himself a prophet, but exaggerations, typical of ancient Rome, grew into claims about the “begotten son of God.” These beliefs eventually formed the roots of early Christian creed, subsequent debates about the nature of Christ because anything other than pure monotheism is illogical, and finally locked down in the council of Nicaea. Christianity is rooted in the typical culture and beliefs of the Hellenistic and Roman era.

So it’s no surprise that modern Western men are tapping into these ancient stories. It’s part of Western European history, though Westerners are notoriously ignorant about history and religion in general, including their own. In the ancient Olympic Games, the Greeks believed the games had their roots in religion, that athletic competition was tied to worship of the gods, and the revival of the ancient games was intended to bring peace, harmony and a return to the origins of Greek life. They were as much a religious festival as an athletic event, held in honor of the Greek god Zeus, and on the middle day of the games, 100 oxen would be sacrificed to him.

Spartan helmet with US flag texture, iconic of this movement

Movies like 300 are like a revival and glorification of ancient Greek and Roman culture and religion, conveniently lacking any nuance, though beloved to these young white men, even incorporating Spartan symbols into their paraphernalia. Roger Ebert said “300 has one-dimensional caricatures who talk like professional wrestlers plugging their next feud.” Even Greeks themselves complained, like Robby Eksiel, who said that moviegoers would be dazzled by the “digital action” but irritated by the “pompous interpretations and one-dimensional characters.” Indeed, some sort of man-worship full of bloody violence where demi-godlike white warriors massacre the turbaned “brown folks” en masse is exactly the type of mid-War on Terror action movie Westerners were hungry for in 2006. It’s an epitome of this imaginary “alpha male” concept, however far divorced from reality. And of course, they’re the ones “fighting for freedom” against the “tyrants.” Interesting how oppressors often see themselves as liberators

Iconic still of the main character’s battle cry from “300”

Old Racism and Justification

The movie 300 perfectly encapsulates racist, xenophobic sentiment among Westerners, hearkening back to the Yellow Peril. As a psycho-cultural perception of menace from the Eastern world, fear of the Yellow Peril was more racial than national, a fear derived not from concern with a specific source of danger or from any one country or people, but from a vaguely ominous, existential fear of the faceless, nameless horde of yellow people opposite the Western world. As a form of xenophobia, the Yellow Terror is the fear of the non-white Other from the Orient, as imagined in the racialist book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy (1920) by Lothrop Stoddard.

300 writer Frank Miller said in 2007: “The Spartans were a paradoxical people. They were the biggest slave owners in Greece. But at the same time, Spartan women had an unusual level of rights. It’s a paradox that they were a bunch of people who in many ways were fascist, but they were the bulwark against the fall of democracy. The closest comparison you can draw in terms of our own military today is to think of the red-caped Spartans as being like our special-ops forces. They’re these almost superhuman characters with a tremendous warrior ethic, who were unquestionably the best fighters in Greece. I didn’t want to render Sparta in overly accurate terms, because ultimately I do want you to root for the Spartans. I couldn’t show them being quite as cruel as they were. I made them as cruel as I thought a modern audience could stand.”

Nice, tidy digested history for the masses. Quite reflective of ignorant American sentiments of the War on Terror in 2007, huh? The idea that the superior white man is the “bulwark against the fall of democracy,” standing up to the hordes of those racially inferior “others,” be it the “A-rabs” or someone else, to “defend freedom and democracy.” The amount of ignorance and backwardness here is disturbing. No mention of course that the Spartans were openly bisexual and even applauded it, yet the writers decided to portray Xerxes as effeminate to make young white men feel uncomfortable. It plays right into historic European homophobia and homosexualization of the “other” to justify barbaric colonialism.

Slate’s Dana Stevens compares the film to The Eternal Jew, “as a textbook example of how race-baiting fantasy and nationalist myth can serve as an incitement to total war. Since it’s a product of the post-ideological, post-Xbox 21st century, 300 will instead be talked about as a technical achievement, the next blip on the increasingly blurry line between movies and video games.”

Notably, the real threat to democracy, according to the early Greek philosophers like Plato, was actually an internal threat: the demagogue. Demagoguery is the distinct campaign platform of the Republican party–scaring white people with imaginary external threats from various foreign countries and “brown peoples” and internal threats from the “liberal left” (yet they themselves are also products of enlightenment-era classical liberalism). Thus, voting for me is the only way you’ll save your supposedly-threatened white culture while justifying our own barbaric foreign policy decisions as “necessary evils.” In reality, of course, the War on Terror increased terrorism 700% and cost over $6 trillion, much of it spent questionably. But please ignore the fine print.

The cognitive dissonance of American pop monoculture is hilarious and at the same time, concerning and disturbing. And as white supremacist terrorism is the biggest threat of 2020, the patterns we’re seeing at play here should be no surprise. History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. If only we’d study history.

The Real Peril

What’s ironic about the Yellow Peril is how backwards it is. After two opium wars in the mid-1800s where barbaric Britain and France forced China to destroy itself economically and socially, they still portray Asians as a “threat to Europe” somehow. Yet who is destroying whom? Who colonized whom? Who forced whom to take on a massive opium problem that lasted until Mao’s era? It’s like a psychological projection where the barbaric European colonizers deny the existence of inhumane qualities in themselves and project them onto everybody else. Objectively, Europe and America have been the biggest threat to freedom in the world for several centuries now, yet they still justify their own tyranny by falsely calling others tyrannical.

If I Can’t Have It, Nobody Can

The Early Modern period of Europe sets the background to much of these modern woes. The Roman Catholic church fell apart, from a massive imperial power controlling large portions of European land and commanding large armies, to the enlightenment period, rise of the nation-state, and separation of church and state. The enlightenment is quite ironic, really. Europeans finally denounced the transgressions of the Catholic church over the centuries, but didn’t bother looking at Islam as a viable alternative. Scant European writings on Islam are limited to predictable misconceptions, misrepresentations, and elementary refutations. So instead, they went straight to atheism. Perhaps they concluded that if they didn’t have the truth all along, then nobody must have it. How could those “brown people” have the final message before us? Surely the superior white man would have it first if it were true! Sounds just like Iblis when he disobeyed the Creator: “I am better than him (Adam), You created me from fire, and him You created from clay.”

Confusing Times

In times of such confusion, where Christianity has dissolved into a shell of its former self, hollowed out by empty churches, hedonism, and internal biblical criticism (like Bart Ehrman), Westerners are looking for a sense of meaning in their lives. The predominant millennial culture of night life, extramarital sex, weight lifting, alcohol, and typical American leisure with little aim or direction seems to have led to this exploration of religion. The Beat and subsequent Hippie Generation already tapped into the Indian religions, like Hinduism and Buddhism. Amid this “clash of civilizations” mentality of the war-mongering Evangelicals, why not tap into Greek and Roman paganism? The worship of the self, the idea that a man can become a god, and the glorification of carnal desires lines up perfectly with American and European hedonistic lifestyles. The concept of grace in Western Christianity has been replaced by materialism, fantasy, and ignorance.

Same Dead-End and Real Manhood

As we say in Islam, “millatul kufr wahid (ملة الكفر واحد),” the religion of disbelief is one. It all leads to the same dead-end, confusion, unanswered questions, and purposelessness in life. One interesting paradigm of Western culture is the notion that their ephemeral cultural values are “universal.” But universals don’t change, and Western culture and values fluctuate radically every few decades.

The true answer is the same, unchanging answer that’s been there for 1400 years: Islam. You can keep running away from your Lord and from the truth, but in the end everyone dies and everyone must face Judgement Day. Wherever you run, you will find your Lord. The direction you choose simply determines what kind of meeting that is: a pleasant one or a regretful one. You can keep wandering on the various paths of misguidance or accept the truth and prepare for the inevitable.

Islam is the path that will test your true manhood, true discipline, and true courage. Denying the message is to cling to worldly desires. Acceptance of it is true freedom, clarity, humility before God, and true manhood. Hanging on to it is the greatest test of your resolve and resilience.

So what are you waiting for?

وَمَا هَٰذِهِ الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا لَهْوٌ وَلَعِبٌ ۚ وَإِنَّ الدَّارَ الْآخِرَةَ لَهِيَ الْحَيَوَانُ ۚ لَوْ كَانُوا يَعْلَمُونَ – 29:64

And this life is only amusement and play. And indeed the abode of the afterlife is the true life, if only they knew.

Quran

Further Reading

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