Ned Ryun and Chris Buskirk Discuss True Masculinity

Ned Ryun, the founder and CEO of American Majority, joined American Greatness Publisher, Chris Buskirk, yesterday on the Seth and Chris show to discuss his piece, “In Defense of Masculinity,” which has received a fair amount of national attention since we published it. 

Chris Buskirk:   I am Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Liebsohn, this is the Seth and Chris Show. We are joined by Ned Ryun, who, piece of the week, Ned. It’s only Monday, but it’s piece of the week. “In Defense of Masculinity.” We published it yesterday and it’s just fantastic. With all of the … We’ve been talking about this, I guess, for a few years. In a way, almost sort of ridiculing the left and their talk about toxic masculinity and all this sort of thing.

Ned Ryun:   Right.

Chris Buskirk:   And then with all these sex scandals that have come out, it was, I guess, way past time. You were tapping unmet demand for a discussion of what masculinity should look like. Question I wanted to ask you, though, is how we got there. On the political right, for sure, but there is on part of the left too, there has been more than a little bit of trepidation about the culture of promiscuity that has been in the air in this country for a half century now. And I guess those chickens are coming home to roost.

Ned Ryun:   No, they really are, and I explored them a little bit in the piece, because some of this really began in the 60s and 70s where we really started to leave behind some of these institutions of marriage and why there was marriage and why there was … Why men and women got married and sex and children and all this stuff and it just became this transactional act. And also just again, like I referred to in the previous segment, this has been going on for decades, this conditioning by Hollywood and the media, and now it is all coming to a head in which … You know, the amazing thing to me, Chris, is they’re screaming bloody murder about toxic masculinity and I’m sitting here going, “You created this. You created a culture and a society in which you encourage the objectifying of women.” And you know what you also did? They also created a culture … If we really are products of chance and we’re really just random objects that are floating on this rock spinning around the sun, well, then, we all become objects and it’s gonna become something where we just become objects for self-pleasure and self-gratification and it reduces who we are as individuals.

And again, it goes back to … I think we should kind of in some ways, I think it gets us back to a conversation about who we are as human beings. Like, do we have the immortal soul, are we more than just random objects of chance? Is there more to us than just that, and then who are we as human beings, and what’s the purpose of our existence? So, in some ways, you’re right. This has been decades and decades of building and building towards this, but at the same time maybe it gets us to a place where we can actually have a conversation in society about, you know what, probably not good for us to be putting constantly in front of our young men this idea whether it’s through Hollywood, through the media, through pornography that women are objects, therefore they are objects for self-pleasure, therefore you can treat them as objects and not as eternal souls. And at the same time, it does lead us to a conversation about who are we? What is the purpose of our existence? And again, if we reduce ourselves to just products of chance, we should not be surprised at this behavior. And this is what drives me nuts about the Left, is their wild inconsistency. They want to have A, but they don’t think it will lead to B, when actually A does lead to B.

This is my great frustration. Their wild inconsistency, and then they point fingers at guys like me and you and say, “Well, all males are toxic. All of them are guilty of toxic masculinity.” No. You created this culture, you’ve created the society, some of us have actually believed in the culture of practiced faith and respecting women, of marriage, all of these things, and we believe in self-discipline and self-dignity and virtue. You cannot pin the behavior that you’ve created on us.

And that was another one of the reasons I wrote this piece. I refuse to let you pin on me the behavior that you have created and which others have really played out what they’ve been conditioned to do while others of us have rejected it and rejected it for years. So that was the point where it just got to me a couple of days. I said enough’s enough, I’m gonna write this, I’m gonna confront this and say, “You cannot pin this on me, because I have lived my life in a very, very specific way, and you cannot then have that pushed back on me. Not gonna happen.”

Chris Buskirk:  Yeah, I mean, it was just not that many months ago. What was it, four months ago, five months ago that these very same people were really snidely mocking Vice President Pence because he said –

Ned Ryun:  Sneering.

Chris Buskirk:   Sneering. Sneering at Vice President Pence because he said, “I don’t go out alone with women to whom I am not married.”

Ned Ryun:   Yeah, they acted as though that was wild and crazy behavior. And, you know, the amazing thing to me, they’ve been sneering at us, essentially insinuating that we are the unenlightened peasants, troglodytes, when in fact they’re the ones that are the misogynistic perverts. And so it’s amazing to me how these cultural elites have been sneering at us who have actually said, you know what? We actually believe in a certain, how we live our lives, we’re going to live them in a very specific way, and you have sneered at us and now all of a sudden the charade is over, and we actually see them for who they are. This is … I try not to make, obviously this is, we’re all imperfect human beings in an imperfect world, you’re not gonna gloat in watching somebody self-destruct. But in some ways it is kind of gratifying, in some ways, Chris, to see this happen right now, that these people who have been sneering at us actually turn out to be the ones who are guilty of awful behavior, when in fact we have nothing to do with that, we’ve rejected that behavior.

And I teach my sons this, Chris. I want them to be non-conformist in this world, in this 21st century world in which I feel that we’ve left behind a lot of values and the principles that I think are important to us. Just don’t conform. In a world that seeks to conform you to itself, do not conform to it. Be noble, be brave, be self-disciplined, be virtuous, leave all of those things behind. And I made this point too, it’s a day to day struggle in which we choose every day, are we going to objectify or not? Are we going to respect or not? Are we going to treat people with the dignity they deserve or not? And it’s one of those things that again, it’s a great challenge. Because the world wants us to conform to it, to pull us into itself. And I’m like, “No.” I refuse to do that, I refuse to let my sons do that, but I also want others to know. It’s okay to fight back, to push back, to be different in this world.

And that’s why I say, you know, it’s a non-conformist view of the world, but it’s a good one.

Chris Buskirk:   Ned, how do you do that with kids? You give a really good account of what masculinity should look like in your piece, and for people who want to read it it’s called “In Defense of Masculinity.” You can find it at American Greatness. It’s But, Ned, how do you do that with kids? You have them for … Well, people like to say you have them for 18 years, but really you have them your whole life. Where do you start?

Ned Ryun:   Well, you know, I think the great challenge is, even in those 18 years you have them at home … The constant struggle of who’s getting to influence them most in the day. I always start out our day, I try to do a small devotional. We go through and I talk about some of these values about being noble, about having integrity. This morning I walked my son to school, it’s about a mile away … Probably half a mile away, and we just had a conversation and I try to bring up some of these things. I call him Peanut, his nickname’s Peanut, but his real name’s Nathaniel. “You know, Peanut, there’s gonna be so many challenges and so many things that are going to be thrown at you, that you’re gonna have to walk away from, that you have to run away from. And you what? It’s going to be challenging, it’s going to be hard, but you know that it’ll make me happy, it’ll make Mommy happy … “

The other thing, too, that I’m teaching and I think it’s probably obvious but just clearly stated … I come from that tradition, from an Evangelical Christian faith, and I think the one thing that my parents really instilled in me, Chris, and that I’m trying to instill in my kids … My parents were not always there, but they always said God is always there, he always feeds, and you are to live a life that is pleasing to him, and I want to instill that in my kids so that they know even if I’m not there or their mom is not there, God is always watching, so live a life that is pleasing to Him. And I think that is one of the most important things that my parents taught me.

Chris Buskirk:  You have one more short segment in you, Ned?

Ned Ryun:   I got one more.

Chris Buskirk:   Good. We’ll be right back with Ned Ryun, he’s written “In Defense of Masculinity.” You can find it at American Greatness. We’ll be right back.

Welcome back to the Seth and Chris show. I am Chris Buskirk, he is Seth Liebsohn, joined by Ned Ryun. He is the founder and CEO of American Majority. He is also the author of “In Defense of Masculinity.” You can find it American Greatness. Ned, one of the things that drives me crazy … You’ve got four kids, I do too. One of the things that drives me crazy, it drives my wife crazy, too, is when you hear parents say some version of this. “I’m not gonna force my values on my kids. They gotta figure it out on their own.” Am I right? That is an abrogation of your responsibility. You can’t force your values on them anyway, but it is your responsibility to teach them right and wrong.

Ned Ryun:  Exactly, and what my parents did is they really raised us and taught us a certain set of values, a certain right and wrong, but at a certain point it becomes the child’s decision to actually say, “That’s my belief system.” And that really happened for me when I was about 18 or 19 years old, but you know, I firmly believe it’s my responsibility to teach a standard of right or wrong, of absolutes, of the certain way to act towards each other as families, there’s a certain way to act towards those outside this family, to be honest, to have integrity, all these things. And I think to say otherwise is again to leave behind what you’re supposed to be doing as a parent.

And I think, you know, it kind of comes back to … I didn’t really get to explore this theme in this piece, again, you try to keep it short so people actually read it not die of boredom. The whole idea of self-governance and we as a country are a self-governing republic, but in many ways self-governance in society starts with the individuals self-governing themselves. So that’s one of those things that I’m really trying to … And again, trust me when I say that there are plenty of failures in this whole child-raising on this end, but to teach the four kids the idea of self-governance. When you really want to lash out, no, self-discipline, self-control. I think I really want to go and explore that whole idea of self-governance as individuals therefore leads to a self-governing society which leads to a healthy society and leads to truly, a self-governing government, which I think we’ve left behind. But that’s a whole other theme I want to explore as well.

Chris Buskirk:  Oh, I think that’s great, though, and I think you’re spot on in that regard, which is to say that you cannot expect to have people rule an entire nation … The question is, who rules? Well, if it’s the people, then the people have to have some sense of objective morality to which they hold themselves accountable first.

Ned Ryun:   Right. Exactly. Exactly. No, and I think that’s one of the things that we’ve left behind as a society. In fact, again going back to what the Left has encouraged, they have encouraged anything but self-governing, anything but self-control. And now they’re acting all horrified and self-righteous when they see the end result of what they’ve encouraged. I think this has the potential to lead to some very healthy conversations, Chris, but I think it’s incumbent upon some of us to drive that conversation.

Chris Buskirk:    I think that’s right. And hopefully people will see, these are the chickens coming home to roost. These seeds were planted and nurtured and watered a long time ago, and this is the bitter harvest that we’re reaping, as a result of these cultural discontents that are of our own making. Ned Ryun, CEO, founder of American Majority. If you want to read his piece, you can find it at American Greatness, Ned, thanks a bunch. Come back again real soon. Good luck tonight.

Ned Ryun:   Appreciate it. Thanks, Chris.


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