“And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there, O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

When Francis Scott Key penned these words in 1814, over a dozen British warships were launching mortars and rockets in the mouth of the Baltimore Harbor.

Although no mortars or rockets were fired in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, last Tuesday, there were some familiar sounds of battle: the beat of a snare drum, the bellicose shouting of belligerents, and the whizz of not rockets but rocks and water bottles.

But Key surely would have smiled had he been present to see the small cadre of men enduring profanity, spittle, and abuse in order to keep the star-spangled banner from touching the ground.

After screaming, left-wing, pro-Hamas protesters tore down the American flag in the quadrangle at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, raising a Palestinian flag in its stead, Chancellor Lee Roberts and several police officers restored the flag to its rightful place.

Almost immediately, foamy-mouthed protesters tried to tear it down again.

Young men of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity rushed forward to keep their nation’s flag from touching dirt and to keep their animalistic fellow students at bay until more police could arrive.

Pi Kappa Phi brother Guillermo Estrada said, “We stood for an hour defending the flag so many fight to protect.”

His compatriot Dan Stompel said, “They’re going to have to tear me off this flag by my dead body,” according to Fox News.

He added, “[N]ice, normal, strong boys protecting America’s flag. There’s nothing more patriotic, nothing more genuine, nothing more inspiring than that.”

Though perhaps not so fraught as the War of 1812’s Battle of Baltimore, the episode at Chapel Hill is nonetheless indicative of a fundamental truth that secular American society has, for decades, been trying to suppress: Men must be men, for the good of the nation, for the good of families, for the good of civilization.

The feminist myth of “toxic masculinity” has cowed and emasculated generations of men, with catastrophic effects on Western civilization.

Fatherlessness has proliferated over the years; divorce is now commonplace. Young men grow up without a father to show them how to be a man; young women grow up without a father to show them how a man ought to love and respect them.

“Daddy issues” have almost become the punchline to a sick societal joke, hookup culture and pornography. Of the few men who don’t openly embrace degeneracy, many live in fear of being trampled by fascist feminism’s stormtroopers in stilettos, becoming bitter and self-centered in their isolation.

“Male loneliness” is at its peak, with men terrified of being labeled a “threat” for trying to build friendships with women and almost equally afraid of being labeled “gay” for developing brotherly bonds with other men.

Marriage and birth rates are declining; crime and lawlessness are spiking.

Not all of this societal cancer is due to feminism, of course, but to a whole host of “isms” besides.

Agnosticism, atheism, casualism, egoism, feminism, hedonism, indifferentism, liberalism and libertarianism, Marxism, materialism, narcissism, nihilism, pessimism, progressivism, and relativism have all joined forces to browbeat into simpering submission the first vanguard and final bulwark against civilizational decay: men.

For centuries, men have served as the engines of civilization, its architects and its builders. The chief roles that men have fulfilled throughout history are as provider and protector.

The very first man, Adam, was commanded by God Himself, “In pain you shall eat [the ground’s yield] all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread …” (Genesis 3:17-19).

It is the role of men to provide, to toil and labor, to give of themselves for the sake of their families first, and then their communities and nations.

When men provide, as they ought, they allow their wives to nourish and raise their children, they allow their children to live in relative comfort, and they allow their communities and nations to benefit from the fruits of that labor: Those children will themselves grow up to be mothers and fathers, they will grow up to be nurturers and providers, they will grow up to be doctors and lawyers and teachers and architects and coal miners and butchers and farmers — and the whole of the nation will benefit from the fruits of even one man’s labor.

Men are called also to be protectors. As German author and World War I veteran Ernst Jünger wisely noted, “Long periods of peace and quiet favor certain optical illusions. Among them is the assumption that the invulnerability of the home is founded upon the constitution and safeguarded by it. In reality, it rests upon the father of the family who, accompanied by his sons, appears with the ax on the threshold of his dwelling.”

When things go bump in the night, it is the role of the man to crawl out of bed, equipped with a flashlight and armed with a shotgun, a baseball bat, an ax, or some such, and go investigate.

When criminals brandish their weapons and begin to pillage and rape, it is the role of men to stand between the criminal and the vulnerable of society, women and children.

When war threatens peace, it is the role of the man to pick up a sword or a rifle and march forth to meet the enemy. When the mob is incited to riot, it is the role of the man to stand on his doorstep to ensure his wife and children and home are kept safe.

These dual responsibilities — provider and protector — have been maligned and ignored, smeared as “toxic masculinity,” as a form of misogyny, as some kind of “inequality.”

But the simple fact is that it is necessary that men fulfill these responsibilities, or else civilization will collapse.

The young men at Chapel Hill recognized this reality. Inspired by patriotism and a love of the good and the beautiful, they did not hesitate to protect their flag.

As lawlessness and animosity embed their roots ever deeper into secular American society, it is increasingly, urgently crucial that men reclaim their responsibilities as providers and protectors.

If order is to be restored to society, it must be at the hands of men, as providers and protectors.

These dual responsibilities — provider and protector — find their perfect union in the person of Christ. Through His earthly ministry, of course, Christ fulfilled the role of provider, feeding starving souls.

But in His passion and death, He united the roles of provider and protector. Through His suffering, by the sweat (and blood) of His brow, Christ provided us with forgiveness of our sins and entrance into eternal life.

He gave His life to protect us from death, the wages of sin (Romans 6:23), so that we might have eternal life. The blood of Christ is the ultimate image of both provider and protector.

If civilization is to continue, if America is to be kept from the precipice of social collapse, men must look to Christ as their inspiration.

Another World War I veteran, the author J.R.R. Tolkien, once wrote to his son of the inspiration which Christ should be for all men: “There you will find romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death. By the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste — or foretaste — of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man’s heart desires.”

In an age of apathy and indifference, of degeneracy and perversion, of sterility and lifelessness, of joylessness and passionlessness, may all men look to Christ and be inspired to romance, glory, honor, fidelity, and, if demanded of them for the sake of virtue, death.

This article appeared originally on The Washington Stand.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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