It’s a dead certainty that any wispy-beard wearing a “This is What Feminism Looks Like” t-shirt will be first-eaten in the zombie apocalypse. One only has to see the young harridans on college campuses and the boy-weasels they lead around by their nose-rings to know we live not in an age of toxic masculinity but rather one of toxic feminism and beta masculinity. A country does not grow great or maintain greatness by the power of beta-masculinity. It grows great by virtue of the kind of masculinity now called toxic and that Harry Crocker describes in his new book, Armstrong: The Custer of the West (Regnery).
Crocker’s story is a good old-fashioned yarn, a tall tale. How else to describe a story that includes a troop of Chinese acrobats stuffed into a makeshift cannon in order to fool the bad guys, and a mean dog that understands German and helps the hero out of more than one tight spot. He actually says to the dog, “no barkenzie” and the dog neither barkenzies or woofenzies.
The book’s conceit is that General George Armstrong Custer never died at Little Bighorn but was captured by Indians and made a slave to a white woman-turned-squaw named Rachel. The fetching Rachel appeals to Custer’s innate and darned near irresistible masculinity to help her escape her captors and thus begins a rollicking gallop through a comic western landscape told by Custer himself as a letter to his wife Libbie.
Custer and Rachel, who is now his ward, escape to a nearby town whereupon Custer immediately is forced to kill a man. Escaping from the dead man’s friends, Custer runs plumb into “a camp of big, garish wagons—theatrical wagons” belonging to Miss Sallie Saint-Jean and her traveling troupe of showgirls, Chinese acrobats, and the like. Naturally, the troupe was in need of a Chinese trick shooter, so now-Chinese Custer steps up, but during that evening’s show he up and kills a few more miscreants whereupon he escapes, changes disguise and becomes Armstrong Armstrong, a U.S. Marshall on the hunt for the murderous Chinese trick shooter.
All of this happens in the first 30 pages. Whew. Armstrong Armstrong now leads his ward Rachel and Miss Saint-Jean’s troupe to yet another town, called Bloody Gulch, where there are damsels in distress, men enslaved, and children chained. The rest of the book pits our knight errant over against the malevolent Seth Larson and his band of gunslingers, and bloodthirsty Injuns.
Among the many delightful things about the book is its unabashed political incorrectness. There is a very clear line between good and evil. No shades of gray. The evil Injuns, as opposed to the good Injuns, are truly evil. What’s more, they’re dirty, and they stink. Custer calls them savages. Custer refers to the Chinese acrobats as Chinamen. He mocks the way Chinese “talkie talkie” English, a mockery now forbidden. And then there is Custer’s near obsession with beautiful women.
Just about every time Custer comes upon one of the ladies of Bloody Gulch he becomes a poet to the female form. About to rescue a sleeping damsel he describes “her golden tresses splashed over her pillow like sunbeams across the clouds, her beauty like that of a goddess from ancient Greece.” Before waking her, he even brushes his teeth with a pinch of salt “ready now for anything that might happen.” Keep in mind, this is a letter to his wife.
He describes Miss Sallie as spinning on a high heel and ambling down to the saloon “with a walk that, if I may be so blunt, would have brought some men to their knees.” Another wore, “black high heels that could drive both nails and a hard bargain.” Crawling through a tight tunnel behind Isabel Johnson, he notes her “bustle swaying gently to and fro as if borne on the waves of a salty ocean . . . ” He refers to the “calming effects of Isabel’s rolling bustles, beckoning like a beacon in the night . . . ”
I am put in mind of the visit of the French president to Washington, D.C. some months ago. The local paper ran a photograph taken from behind of Mrs. Macron and, more to the point, Mrs. Trump. The purpose of the photo was rather evident as Mrs. Trump wore a rather formfitting white dress. It was amusing to see the apparent hypocrisy of the usually feminist and tut-tutting Washington Post. Personally, I was somewhat startled at the subject matter which I described as “arresting” on Twitter and was promptly accused of favoring sexual assault or some such nonsense.
Crocker knows men used to be able to gaze upon a woman’s beauty but also that he could not linger lest the imagination is sinfully engaged. He might even comment but would go no further than a chaste “my-my,” maybe “my-oh-my.” But the toxic feminists and soy-boys of our time will surely call out “rape culture!” upon hearing any of this. There used to be a fairly bright line between admiring a woman’s shape and being a pig. Sadly, these days it seems men are either pigs or pussies, no in between, no place for knowing gentlemen, no place for Custer—or Crocker, for that matter.
Custer’s real business at Bloody Gulch is no less than the reestablishment of Western Civilization. Each of the primary progenitors of our culture has been strangled by Seth Larson and his band of cutthroats; families busted up, the church and the school closed. The only buildings in use are the hotel and the saloon. There aren’t even any cultural events, that is, not until Custer leads Miss Sallie and her troupe into town.
There is much to enjoy in Crocker’s book; a multilingual Indian who spouts Catholic catechism, theology, and philosophy, a Southern gentleman late of the Lost Cause secretly working for the hated Republican Ulysses S. Grant, plot twists and reveals, and manly speechifying on leadership, governance, duty, and even forgiveness.
Custer of the West says, “Heroism does not dim with age. Heroes do not fade from memory. They are immortalized in song and story, in statuary and stone, and no society—certainly not the United States of America!—that seeks to perpetuate itself can neglect its ancient, or not so ancient, heroes: its George Washingtons, its Andrew Jacksons, its Davy Crocketts, its Winfield Scotts, its McClellans, its Custers!” Custer even grants the heroism of “its Lees, Stonewall Jacksons, its A.P. Hills.”
There is enough masculinity in this book to make any soft-boy-feminist clutch his pearls and take to his fainting couch.
Photo Credit: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images