Have We Created A Nation Of Wimps ?by Doug Mataconis
Stephen and Mike have both written excellent posts this week which basically ask why someone at Virginia Tech didn’t try to stop Cho Seung Hui during his killing rampage. Mark Steyn has an interesting piece at National Review Online where he basically argues that part of the problem is that we’ve created a nation of wimps:
I havenâ€™t weighed in yet on Virginia Tech â€” 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. Iâ€™m not sure Iâ€™m ready to go the full Derb but I think heâ€™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 â€œchildrenâ€ need to be â€œprotected.â€
Theyâ€™re not â€œchildren.â€ The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and â€” if youâ€™ll forgive the expression â€” 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 â€œchildrenâ€ if theyâ€™re serving in the Third Infantry Division in Ramadi but grown-ups making rational choices if they drop to the broadloom in President Clintonâ€™s Oval Office. Nonetheless, itâ€™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 â€” and, in a â€œhorribleâ€ 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.
We do our children a disservice to raise them to entrust all to officialdomâ€™s security blanket. Geraldo-like â€œprotectionâ€ is a delusion: when something goes awry â€” whether on a September morning flight out of Logan or on a peaceful college campus â€” the state wonâ€™t be there to protect you.
Steyn does have a point here. Up until Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field, the government told citizens to remain passive during a hijacking and not to try to be a hero. The terrorists used that ingrained passivity toÂ great effect on 9/11, allowing them to cause more death and destruction than all the airline hijackes in history put together.
In the case of Virginia Tech, the students had an overwhelming strength of numbers against one madman with a gun. Surely, you might think, enough people acting together could’ve done something. And yet, apparently, nobody even tried.
Now let me say I find it difficult to write this now, only four days after the massacre. First of all, we really don’t know enough about what happened in Norris Hall to know if there was even time for Cho to be stopped. Second, there is a part of me that feels like even questioning the fact that nobody acted is treading far closer to blaming the victim than I am comfortable being. Third, even if they didn’t try to stop their killer, none of those people deserved to die.
And, yet, it’s clear that nobody even tried anything and I think that maybe Steyn does have a point and that we need to think carefully about whether our continued belief in a state that will protect you from cradle to grave is really preparing students and young adults for the harsh reality of the world.