Wednesday, April 18, 2007

On heroism and other shameful things

Okay, so if I'd been in one of those classrooms at Virginia Tech, you know what I'd have done? I'd have waited until the guy got down the hallway and was turning into the classroom across from mine, and then I'd have jumped him from behind and gotten on his back so he couldn't shoot me, and he'd have probably slammed me into a doorjamb like they always do in movies, and I'd have held on, and then I would have grabbed his head and snapped his neck like Rambo, and it would have been awesome, and I'd totally be a hero.

Well, okay, not so much. More likely, I would have been hiding, crying, trembling, under a desk as soon as I heard the first gunshot. On a good day, I would have had the presence of mind to make it out the window. On a very good day, I would have had the fortitude to help my classmates barricade the door. I've never been (thank God) in a situation even remotely similar to that one, and I certainly can't predict my reaction, but I'm fairly sure that it would have been less than worthy of a Die Hard cameo.

Thank goodness, then, that we have such manly men as John Derbyshire to look after us.
As NRO's designated chickenhawk, let me be the one to ask: Where was the spirit of self-defense here? Setting aside the ludicrous campus ban on licensed conceals, why didn't anyone rush the guy? It's not like this was Rambo, hosing the place down with automatic weapons. He had two handguns for goodness' sake—one of them reportedly a .22.

At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him. Handguns aren't very accurate, even at close range. I shoot mine all the time at the range, and I still can't hit squat. I doubt this guy was any better than I am. And even if hit, a .22 needs to find something important to do real damage—your chances aren't bad.

Yes, yes, I know it's easy to say these things: but didn't the heroes of Flight 93 teach us anything? As the cliche goes—and like most cliches. It's true—none of us knows what he'd do in a dire situation like that. I hope, however, that if I thought I was going to die anyway, I'd at least take a run at the guy.

Only a .22! What's a guy gonna do, take out 32 people with a piddly little .22? Just count the shots (from his semiautomatic), yell, "Let's roll," and go after him. "Your chances aren't bad." Pussies.

Nathaniel Blake is another manly man we want with us during a shooting spree.
College classrooms have scads of young men who are at their physical peak, and none of them seems to have done anything beyond ducking, running, and holding doors shut. Meanwhile, an old man hurled his body at the shooter to save others.

Something is clearly wrong with the men in our culture. Among the first rules of manliness are fighting bad guys and protecting others: in a word, courage. And not a one of the healthy young fellows in the classrooms seems to have done that. …

Like Derb, I don’t know if I would live up to this myself, but I know that I should be heartily ashamed of myself if I didn’t. Am I noble, courageous and self-sacrificing? I don’t know; but I should hope to be so when necessary.

He would be ashamed of himself. Do you hear that, Virginia Tech shooting victims? You have no one but yourselves to blame. The failure is all yours and only yours. Be ashamed.

Be ashamed, Zach Petkewicz.
Zach Petkewicz was in class when the shooting at Norris began and “everyone went into a frenzy, a panic.” Petkewicz was hiding behind a podium when he realized there was nothing preventing the shooter from entering the classroom and barked to his classmates, “We need to barricade this door.” (Watch how Petkewicz’s quick thinking may have saved lives Video)
Two students joined him in throwing tables against the door and wedging their weight behind them, just as the gunman cracked open the door.

When the students slammed the door in his face, “he backed up and shot twice into the middle of the door thinking we were up against it,” Petkewicz said.

“I was up against the side holding this desk up against there and I just heard his clip drop to the ground and he reloaded, and I thought he was coming back for a second round, to try and get his way in there,” he said. “He didn’t say a word, and he just turned and kept firing down the hall and didn’t try to get back in.”

Be ashamed, Trey Perkins.
In Room 207, the gunman burst in, killed German instructor Christopher Bishop and several students, wounding several others, then left. As other students wept and one vomited, Trey Perkins, Derek O’Dell and a female student lay down at the door and held it shut with their feet. Two minutes later the killer came back.

“After he couldn’t get the door open he tried shooting it open . . . but the gunshots were blunted by the door,” O’Dell said. The killer left again. Perkins, an Eagle Scout, told the other two to stay at the door, and got up to tend to wounded students. He wrapped his sweater and a tank top around one student’s wounded legs. Another student was shot in the mouth. Perkins grabbed a sweatshirt from a desk to stop her bleeding.

Be ashamed, Liviu Librescu.
Professor Liviu Librescu, 76, threw himself in front of the shooter when the man attempted to enter his classroom. The Israeli mechanics and engineering lecturer was shot to death, “but all the students lived – because of him,” Virginia Tech student Asael Arad – also an Israeli – told Army Radio. ...

Several of Librescu's other students sent e-mails to his wife, Marlena, telling of how he had blocked the gunman's way and saved their lives, said Librescu's son, Joe.

"My father blocked the doorway with his body and asked the students to flee," Joe Librescu said in a telephone interview from his home outside of Tel Aviv.

We should all take note of this shameful, shameful behavior. We should all hope that, God forbid, we should be in such a situation, we'd be able to find inspiration in such shameful people. We can count ourselves blessed if we have such shameful people in our lives. And above all, we should strive to put others before ourselves and try to be that kind of shameful.

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