L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 139, September 17, 2001
Nine One One
Failing The Test
by The Hunter
Special to TLE
Today is a day that will be forever burned in the memories of all of who have lived through it. Loath as I am to speak ill of the dead, there is an important lesson for all of us in examining the grave failure to live up to basic American values displayed by some or all of the reported 266 people who died on board those planes. As near as I can determine from the news reports, most of them died as cowards. Their fatal lack of courage cost the lives of thousands of others on the ground, and untold damage to the lives of literally millions of others as the economic and political aftermath unfolds. Even standing on what Sun Tzu called "death ground", with the only way out through their enemy, all but a few of them chose not to act.
There have been confirmed reports indicating that cell phone calls were made by passengers onboard at least two of the planes.While the information is sketchy, it appears that both callers indicated that the hijackers were armed only with knives and cardboard cutters. Every report I have said repeatedly states that they had no firearms, not that it makes a damn bit of difference for my point. Amazingly, a report I located just before sending this off indicates that the hijackers INVITED the passengers to call and tell their loved ones they were about to die!
It is utterly amazing to me that in a group of 250 or more people daring to call themselves Americans, even from the cowed socialist masses of the Boston-Washington corridor, only one or two brave, doomed souls attempted to stop these madmen. Even granting that there may have been three or four terrorists on each plane, that still gives the rest of the passengers around 15 to one odds. Much better than your odds of surviving a crash at 600 mph. Especially when the madmen in control are telling you that you're about to die. What do you have to lose at that point?
Simple shock and disbelief is going to immobilize just about anyone in the first few minutes of any violent confrontation. Though we've got plenty of examples from the public shootings by many and varied madmen in the past decade or so that prove this is not necessarily true. Suzanna Gratia-Hupp's father Al Gratia died trying to stop the killing in the Luby, Texas shooting; Louis "Sandy" Javelle was gunned down trying to stop the madness in Wakefield, Massachusetts, and in two of the school shootings brave men, assistant principal Joel Myrick and teenage wrestler Jake Ryker stepped forward to successfully end the killing. Some of them died, but at least they died heroically trying rather than cowering in screaming disbelief at the back of a plane.
Early in the hijacking there may have been some sense in going along with their demands and hoping for the best. But the aircrews at least must have had some idea well before the end what was planned, if indeed they were still alive. It appears at least some of them were, and to their everlasting credit the only reports I've heard that anyone tried to avert the disaster talks of flight attendants struggling with the terrorists. But what in hell were the rest of the people on that plane doing when those desparate airline employees were fighting for all their lives? I'm sickened at the thought of someone trying to save 50 or 60 other people while they stand stupidly by and don't bother to help. Is that what America has come to?
CNN commentator Barbara Olson, who made one of the doomed calls before dying on the American airlines jet which crashed into the Pentagon, was quoted by CNN as asking her husband `What should I tell the pilots to do?''. A damn good answer would have been "jump the bastards, you're going to die anyway!"
At least 266 people who lived in America faced the ultimate test today, and so far as can be determined currently nearly all of them failed miserably. Because enough of them didn't have the courage to look death in the eye and go down fighting, they condemned many thousands more. But the blame goes far beyond them to include the politicians and other leaders who have so stigmatized the act of self defense that it no longer even occurs to most people. As we mourn our dead and search for the perpetrators to visit justly-deserved retribution upon them, let us not forget to soundly condemn the moral cowardice which made it possible for a handful of madmen to visit fiery death on thousands while a couple of hundred decent people stood by and refused to act even on the chance to save their own life. I lay the blame as much at the feet of the twisted souls who have worked so hard to delegitimize defending yourself as on those terrorists.