Esteban Santiago: The 'War against Boys' Goes Toxic
Christina Hoff Summers, Camille Paglia, and others have made excellent points about the cultural war against boys and men, with the ensuing confusion of identity and lost young men who emerge from a youth in which there every hope and dream and even sporting pursuit has been subject to the ridicule and penalties of K-12 gatekeepers. Nothing they ever do is right. Anything they want to do is wrong. And no one in authority has any idea what they should do except be good little girls.
I hated school. Every red-blooded boy I knew did as well. So did the best girls. We knew we were in a school not for education. We were in a school for re-education, and we were the target. This wasn't the place we were told it was, instilling initiative and free inquiry. It rewarded suck-ups to petty authority and unquestioned groupthink. Initiative and free inquiry were penalized. There might be courses and teachers who were the exception, but to get out alive, you had to accept the realities of the power structure and not take it on.
If the Ivy League commissars can't find anything better to do than attack their mens' sports teams and destroy fraternities, how do you think things go for the average lower-class boy who hasn't even a prayer of going to community college?
"Pajama Boy" may seem a funny byproduct of this national culture of institutional neutering. But how amusing a byproduct is Esteban Santiago?
No young men are more challenged in forming their identities than the endangered fringe of immigrant, or black and Hispanic ghetto kids, usually from fatherless families. They have been denied the once common education of all Americans that showed us how we all shared the same historic traditions and a great national identity and purpose. Instead, the American educational establishment intentionally alienates them with poisonous messaging, constantly reiterating how they can't possibly get fair treatment in the United States and they might as well accept that they are doomed before they start. To make sure of it, they are rushed through an education that leaves them illiterate, innumerate, and unemployable. First they are bewildered. Then they are angry.
Denied any heroic examples to follow, any real hope, and no understanding for the long term, having not the least idea what a career path might be, these young men resort to cheap thrills and short-term pleasure and indulge a growing sense of anger at being helpless in what they correctly sense are the days of their lives in which opportunity and adventure should be most available to them. They may want to get even with something or somebody as well, and they look for scenarios that appear to offer that opportunity. Their idea of entertainment is likely to be losing themselves in the latest film full of superheroes and violence or perhaps a game of Grand Theft Auto on the computer.
One can hardly blame them for looking for spiritual direction and empowerment. Black Islam and Islamofascism appear to provide all the answers as well as an opportunity for heroic action and a noble cause. In this spiritual world, young men are the recruits of choice; women are subordinate. They are assured that one true believer can make a huge difference in righting the wrongs of the world. One blast of this wolf whistle brings a line of lone wolves looking for purpose. Of course they are attracted to it.
Santiago had been attracted enough to register on MySpace as "Aashiq Hammad" and recorded Islamic songs in Arabic on it in 2007, three years before he served in Iraq.
As Santiago's story emerges from the usual fog bank of confusion the press and law enforcement conspire to maintain in all these cases, we will see an all too familiar pattern. A decent enough kid, caught between a background in Puerto Rico and the United States, joins the military but hasn't enough of a sense of self motivation to resist a strong strain of Islamic idealism which appears more attractive than the Army. At least the Muslims appear not to engage in double-talk, to have clear objectives and a higher purpose in their lives than following orders in a military mission that doesn't make much sense even to those who run it. Santiago becomes mentally confused and gets kicked out with a general discharge by a smart colonel who senses an opportunity to get rid of a problem in the making before things get worse for the Army. The colonel sees cases like this all the time these days.
Santiago then gets a security job in Alaska, moves a little over a mile from the only mosque in that state; knocks up a local girl he doesn't marry; and, under the pressure of all this and a new baby and no resources, starts to hear voices in his head he believes are from the U.S. government, trying to get him to look at Islamic terrorist websites. In a last pathetic call for help, he goes to the FBI, which does its usual CYA look-over and does nothing in this case, as it has done nothing in so many others once it has the paperwork to prove it saw him. The FBI takes no interest in his access to firearms or perhaps placing him on a watch or no-fly list until some follow-up check on him.
The local police get Santiago a hospital mental checkup, and then he is given some counseling. Then he drops out of sight of his worried family. Something is happening
Friday afternoon, we found out what he finally chosen, on Epiphany, as the ultimate meaning in his confused life.
As with many young men, his fragile sense of identity is played out in Instagram postings in various costumes chosen with care. One could probably save hours of psychotherapy just going through the T-shirt drawer of someone like Esteban Santiago and cataloging the various identities they indicate. The most conspicuous photo of Santiago shows him in a traditional Islamic keffiyeh scarf making an Islamic-inspired one-finger hand sign, referring to the oneness of Allah, with the beard and mustache of the faithful Muslim. The photo of his arrest shows him wearing the latest Star Wars T-shirt.
And in a last sad gesture to his military training, his handgun empty, Santiago locks it open, kicks it away, and lies spread-eagled on the floor of the Ft. Lauderdale terminal, waiting for his arrest.
And every element of our degraded press and the law enforcement system Obama has systematically enfeebled will do everything they can to keep us from finally learning the consequences of our tragically failed policy with young American men in this, as in so many other cases.