Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Our Brave Chickenhawks

Well McJoan at daily Kos has assembled a response to the great commentary by John Derbyshire and Nataniel Blake. Both of these authors have offered up much the same commentary on the events in Virginia yesterday. Apparently they feel that the students at Virginia Tech should be ashamed for not charging the gunman and saving the day. Now, neither of these two is putting his life on the line in any way, so talking about others being afraid or cowardly is rather risky. Saying that others should be ashamed, that is just insulting. This attitude is particularly rich coming from a war hawk as the main argument for the war in Iraq is that if we don't fight the terrorists over there the terrorists will come here. So Derbyshire and Blake are all for sending several thousand US soldiers off to die so that Derbyshire and Blake will be safe from harm. Not the strongest position from which to speak of other people's shame.

But another thing occurs to me on this. Like Blake and Derbyshire, I am not enlisted nor enlisting into the military, nor have I ever been. My knowledge of the military is indirect so I am happy to be corrected if I am wrong. But my impression is that joining the army, let us say, one is put through an intensive period of training, much of which is aimed at preparing you for the shock and confusion that is combat. After weeks of this preparation, training and initiation into what combat is like it still generally requires an experienced lieutenant and a few good noncoms to keep a group of green soldiers just out of basic training organized and under control when the shooting starts. The reason we go to all that effort and the reason for the medals and the honor we attend to our men and women in uniform is because keeping your head and doing what needs to get done once the shooting starts is hard. It is very, very hard to do. It is rather absurd to expect any number of completely untrained individuals to show the kind of initiative these two chickenhawks are just assuming everyone else should show.

On a side note, some people promoting the incident would have been much less severe had the University not had a policy forbidding the possession of any firearms on campus. Just one thought. The University also had a policy against underage drinking when on campus. Any guesses as to how effective that was. Good money says that there were more than a couple of firearms in dorm rooms around campus, but the lack of any population trained in response to a shooting meant that no one would be shooting back.

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