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Whither the Warrior Spirit?

Posted by Richard on April 17, 2007

It's a touchy thing, second-guessing how people responded in a crisis. I wasn't there in that Virginia Tech classroom building, and I can't say for certain how I would have reacted had I been there. But there have been news reports that some of the victims were lined up and executed. At least one student survivor reported that the gunman burst into the classroom and started shooting, and they all "hit the floor" and waited for their bullet. This deeply saddens me.

Libercontrarian had a similar reaction, and some apropos comments:

For the mad dog who is only interested in slaughter, only three things can make him quit: suicide, attack by an organized security force, and disarmament by the pool of as-yet uninjured victims. The first two have the annoying tendency of coming well after the terminus of the event, thus resulting in the highest casualties. The last is what stops cold the attack, but requires the will to not be like the citizens of Babi-Yar, who marched nervously to the unending hammering of the machine guns, telling themselves that the Germans were giving them delousing showers. This perhaps requires the greatest courage: to take the chance that by risking more, personally, you may end the affair before it reaches the originator's intent. That is the Warrior Spirit.

I am not sure that there is an answer here. I would, however, prefer to be armed if I was to be locked into a room with a crazed gunman. I would hope for a bit of the Warrior Spirit to rely upon in any case – I could conceive no worse end than pleading with some twisted individual, on my knees, living my last several moments knowing that I was unable to prevent my death because of my fear of losing the opportunity to get away without confronting the evil that has revealed itself before me.

But the definitive articulation of what Libercontrarian and I felt came from LawDog (HT: FreedomSight):

There are reports — granted unconfirmed at this time — that several students were forced to line up, kneeling, and executed from behind.

I pray to the old gods — the gods of war and blood and thunder — that this is not the case.

I pray that some students went down fighting.

Because as bad as this is — and this is a horror — as bad as this is, if fifty some-odd people were injured and killed by one person whilst on their knees begging like so many Eloi, like a herd of sheep — if no one stood up and fought back, then this is becomes an example of evil.

Not the evil that allows a man to kill other men — although that is here in abundance. No, I am speaking of the putrescent evil which convinces good men not to fight back; the sordid filth of the soul which allows one bad man to prevail against fifty — or 25,000 — good men because good men have been systematically denied the mindset required to meet with, engage and defeat evil — even if all you have is fingernails and rage.

I beg you to go read the rest. I dare you to not be moved. 


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5 Responses to “Whither the Warrior Spirit?”

  1. David Bryant said

    Today (17 April) I heard about a 76 year-old professor who held the door to his classroom shut while his students escaped through the window. The Korean guy shot him to death through the door.

    That’s the sort of thing that moves me. dcb

  2. rgcombs said

    That was an Israeli professor, Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor. Read about him at The Jerusalem Post.

    Please don’t misunderstand what I’m about to say. What Professor Librescu did was incredibly courageous. It was all that one could expect and then some, given his age and the circumstances. And he undoubtedly saved the lives of students in his classroom.

    But Seung Hui Cho was free to move down the hall to another classroom, where another group of students cowered helplessly on the floor, and he continued killing. Only the identity of the victims changed.

    Most of the victims were in their teens and twenties, not 76. As LawDog noted, makeshift weapons were all around, and barring that, they had their bare hands. Apparently, what most or all of them lacked was the determination to not accept death passively.

    How profoundly sad.

  3. Libercontrarian said

    Richard, you said: “Apparently, what most or all of them lacked was the determination to not accept death passively.

    How profoundly sad. “

    Indeed. While I am uncomfortable assigning blame to anyone other than the crazed lunatic who committed this horrible sin, I am obliged to wonder about the fate that awaits a society that produces “good victims.” Haven’t we learned this lesson? When confronted with absolute evil – the slavering crazed foam-mouthed wolf or the tin-horn dictator with his finger on the nuclear trigger – we don’t sit down to tea with it. We kill it, with all the discomfort and foreboding of Barry Bonds stepping up to the plate at a Little-League game.

    It is not comforting that few American institutions teach what evil is anymore. Evil, in polite society, is thought not to exist; it’s merely a differing point of view. These are, of course, the conditions in which evil men flourish.

    So, what to do about it?

    Face evil. Identify it to children so that they will know it on sight. Gently, and with humor and grace, counter the Leftist-feel-good mentality wherever it rears its illogical head. Be an example of awareness and preparedness yourself, so that others will follow your lead. You can have a beneficial effect on the people around you. Whatever you do, stay positive!

  4. rgcombs said

    ”Whatever you do, stay positive!”

    Thank you, Nick, for a wonderful and inspiring comment. You’ve helped me feel more positive.

  5. rgcombs said

    I caught part of ABC’s Nightline coverage of the Virginia Tech killings. They interviewed three students in Professor Liviu Librescu’s class. All were males and looked reasonably fit. One seemed on the small side (maybe 5’8″), one was in between, and the third looked like a football player — over six feet, over 200 pounds.

    They described the sound of gunfire, the fear and panic, the screaming from adjacent rooms. They talked about how they opened the windows, lined up, climbed out, and dropped to the ground. They described seeing Professor Librescu at the classroom door holding it shut.

    None of these three strapping young men explained how and why they left a 76-year-old man to guard the door against a homicidal maniac while they fled to safety. None felt any need to explain or apologize or mention the moral quandary they faced at all. They weren’t asked. It just never came up.

    How can this be? These three men ”thanked” Professor Librescu. But it never even occurred to them to ”apologize” to him and his family. How can this possibly be?

    Sorry, Nick, but I’m feeling bummed again. Admittedly, three is a small sample — but it disturbs me that these three gentlemen felt not an iota of shame. What kind of people are these that they won’t even acknowledge the possibility of their own cowardice?

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