Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Wimp Society

A childhood friend sent this to me. Food for thought on the continuing wimpification of American manhood:

April 18, 2007 12:44 PM
A Culture of Passivity
"Protecting" our "children" at Virginia Tech.
By Mark Steyn

I haven’t weighed in yet on Virginia Tech — mainly because, in a saner world, it would not be the kind of incident one needed to have a partisan opinion on. But I was giving a couple of speeches in Minnesota yesterday and I was asked about it and found myself more and more disturbed by the tone of the coverage. I’m not sure I’m ready to go the full Derb but I think he’s closer to the reality of the situation than most. On Monday night, Geraldo was all over Fox News saying we have to accept that, in this horrible world we live in, our “children” need to be “protected.”

Point one: They’re not “children.” The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and — if you’ll forgive the expression — men. They would be regarded as adults by any other society in the history of our planet. Granted, we live in a selectively infantilized culture where twentysomethings are “children” if they’re serving in the Third Infantry Division in Ramadi but grown-ups making rational choices if they drop to the broadloom in President Clinton’s Oval Office. Nonetheless, it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected. We should be raising them to understand that there will be moments in life when you need to protect yourself — and, in a “horrible” world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself or others. It is a poor reflection on us that, in those first critical seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu, understood instinctively the obligation to act.

Point two: The cost of a “protected” society of eternal “children” is too high. Every December 6th, my own unmanned Dominion lowers its flags to half-mast and tries to saddle Canadian manhood in general with the blame for the “Montreal massacre,” the 14 female students of the Ecole Polytechnique murdered by Marc Lepine (born Gamil Gharbi, the son of an Algerian Muslim wife-beater, though you’d never know that from the press coverage). As I wrote up north a few years ago:

Yet the defining image of contemporary Canadian maleness is not M Lepine/Gharbi but the professors and the men in that classroom, who, ordered to leave by the lone gunman, meekly did so, and abandoned their female classmates to their fate — an act of abdication that would have been unthinkable in almost any other culture throughout human history. The “men” stood outside in the corridor and, even as they heard the first shots, they did nothing. And, when it was over and Gharbi walked out of the room and past them, they still did nothing. Whatever its other defects, Canadian manhood does not suffer from an excess of testosterone.

I have always believed America is different. Certainly on September 11th we understood. The only good news of the day came from the passengers who didn’t meekly follow the obsolescent 1970s hijack procedures but who used their wits and acted as free-born individuals. And a few months later as Richard Reid bent down and tried to light his shoe in that critical split-second even the French guys leapt up and pounded the bejasus out of him.

We do our children a disservice to raise them to entrust all to officialdom’s security blanket. Geraldo-like “protection” is a delusion: when something goes awry — whether on a September morning flight out of Logan or on a peaceful college campus — the state won’t be there to protect you. You’ll be the fellow on the scene who has to make the decision. As my distinguished compatriot Kathy Shaidle says:

When we say “we don’t know what we’d do under the same circumstances”, we make cowardice the default position.

I’d prefer to say that the default position is a terrible enervating passivity. Murderous misfit loners are mercifully rare. But this awful corrosive passivity is far more pervasive, and, unlike the psycho killer, is an existential threat to a functioning society.

— Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of America Alone.
As we continue to contemplate and wring our hands over the tragedy at Virginia Tech, it is worth considering that one or two brave men (or even women) might have stopped this massacre at the cost of fewer than 32 innocents.


Anonymous said...

Very pertinent.

It would help if you could give a few persoanl examples of your quick action. Perhaps you had a similar experience/ Or a military situation?

James Young said...

And why would that "help"? Frankly, it would seem to --- and probably would --- be braggadacio.

It seems that you would like to imply a flaw in failing to do so, one which would be rather bold from someone so fearful of the meager consequences that might be visited upon him that he fails to sign his name.

Maybe it would "help" if the likes of you were more interested in taking action to stop evil than in engaging in emotional exhibitionism.

Anonymous said...

Do as I say--not as I have never done?

James Young said...

Your conclusions are unsustained by facts.

Perhaps you could identify yourself, and that would allow us to examine more fully our relative courage and decisiveness when action is called for.

Not that it it relevant at all to the point which Steyn was making. It is only relevant to your effort to insult. Bold effort from a demonstrable coward.

Anonymous said...

Facts? You have facts?

James Young said...

I do, but I don't share them with anonymous cowards, IP Address 68.15.139.#. Why bother?

Charles said...

OK. First I'll establish my "credentials".

About 5 years ago, I'm eating lunch with my family at the Old Country Buffet on 234 in Manassas, after a soccer game. My parents are with us.

A very large man (bulging muscles guy) in shorts and t-shirt walks in, walks to the back of the room. Then he walks out "with" a waitress. I've noticed him, and I see the waitress is not going willingly.

By the time he's to the door, I'm out of my chair telling my family "something's wrong". As I run toward the door, he's throwing the girl against a wall.

He then drags her to his van, and I arrive close behind. Close behind ME is the manager of the Old Country Buffet, followed by a few other people who caught on either directly or from my shout to them "he's got a waitress".

I stood there, doing nothing. but ready to block the man from driving off. The manager engages the man in conversation. Eventually the manager says or does something the man doesn't like.

The man floors the manager with one blow. He then starts kicking the man in the head. I jump between the man and the manager, with my back to the man, and my leg protecting the manager. (I'm 5'5", and have no muscles).

Fortunately, the man perceived me as non-threatening, and did not beat me to a pulp.

OK, so I know what it means to foolishly throw yourself into a situation were you could get killed.

It's easy to say someone should have done something. I'd like to think I'd stand behind the door and slam it on him as he comes in.

But I'm reminded of the "realistic" films where some smart guy thinks he'll stop the gunman "like in the movies", and the gunman just shoots him dead.

One hero was an ex-marine on the 3rd floor, who came down the stairs intending to stop the guy on floor 2. He was found dead.

I've sat in the rooms at Norris. 15 people, spread out, anchored tables, guy walks in front more than 10 feet from you, and starts shooting with precision. It's more than 10 feet to where he is, but you have to go around the table or try to climb over it. He's got spread out targets a good distance away, and clear shots with two loaded pistols.

The people that survived are ALL people who jumped out the window, hid under desks, or blocked the door when the guy was outside the room.

There are stories of people who took other action -- those people are all dead.

The situation wasn't like a crowded room where you have access to jump the guy. 15-20 people in each room, with large rooms, it's not enough to charge the guy and have any luck unless you can coordinate, and there was no time as the guy started shooting as soon as he walked in a room.

We'll learn how well the story was told in time, I doubt the "people lined up to be shot" story, because the later stories I read I didn't see any room that was described that way.

The cowards are the adults who sit behind bulletproof glass past metal detectors and armed guards, with their own guns close by, who vote to deny the students and teachers in colleges the right to defend themselves against evil like this.

To then fault those who are disarmed because they did the only rational thing bothers me. I'd love to think that I would both have taken action against the man, and been successful. But I'm only alive today because the time I foolishly put myself in harms way, I was up against a man who, while mad at someone, was not determined to hurt everyone he met -- he had a rationality about him.

A man with no rationality? Imagine the first brave guy stood up and said "you don't want to do this", except he probably didn't make it through the sentence before being gunned down.