Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Distant Bravery

Think Progress reports on this piece by Nathaniel Blake at the conservative Human Events:

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.

Odd speculation, and tasteless. How common are such heroic acts in the case of massacres? In any case, none of us knows how we would act in an emergency until one happens. But note how Blake assumes that it is only the men who are expected to act with bravery, against a man who is armed and when they themselves are unarmed. He appears to regard this all as a game of war or potential for vicarious bravery. He also assigns courage as an attribute of maleness.

But what makes this all truly tasteless is, of course, that he is writing far away from the events and without any chance that he is going to be tested for his assertions.
Added later: Other acts of bravery than that of Professor Liviu Librescu are reported here.