Sunday, April 22, 2007

Why does Fred Thompson blame the Virginia Tech victims?

To me, the most fatal mis-step Thompson has made during his brief pseudo-campaign was his decision to politicize the 4/16 shootings at Virginia Tech and, by implication, attack the victims of the shootings for not doing more to defend themselves. He did so less than three days after the shootings in an op-ed published on April 19, 2007:
One of the things that's got to be going through a lot of peoples' minds now is how one man with two handguns, that he had to reload time and time again, could go from classroom to classroom on the Virginia Tech campus without being stopped. Much of the answer can be found in policies put in place by the university itself.
Thompson panders to the gun lobby for several more paragraphs. Thompson isn't alone in blaming the victims, of course. Republican commentator Neal Boortz says:
How far have we advanced in the wussification of America? I am now under attack by the left for wondering aloud why these students did so little to defend themselves. It seems that standing in terror waiting for your turn to be executed was the right thing to do, and any questions as to why 25 students didn't try to rush and overpower Cho Seung-Hui are just examples of right wing maniacal bias.
And then there was the National Review Online's John Derbyshire:
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.
Derbyshire was joined in his attack on the victims by his colleague at NRO, Mark Steyn:
We do our children a disservice to raise them to entrust all to officialdom’s security blanket. Geraldo-like “protection” is a delusion: when something goes awry — whether on a September morning flight out of Logan or on a peaceful college campus — the state won’t be there to protect you. You’ll be the fellow on the scene who has to make the decision. As my distinguished compatriot Kathy Shaidle says:
When we say “we don’t know what we’d do under the same circumstances”, we make cowardice the default position.
I’d prefer to say that the default position is a terrible enervating passivity. Murderous misfit loners are mercifully rare. But this awful corrosive passivity is far more pervasive, and, unlike the psycho killer, is an existential threat to a functioning society.
In other words, the victims are dead because the victims' parent were bad parents. Republican uber-blogger Michelle Malkin has also attacked the victims:
Instead of teaching students to defend their beliefs, American educators shield them from vigorous intellectual debate. Instead of encouraging autonomy, our higher institutions of learning stoke passivity and conflict-avoidance.

And as the erosion of intellectual self-defense goes, so goes the erosion of physical self-defense.
Malkin summed up by saying
Enough is enough, indeed. Enough of intellectual disarmament. Enough of physical disarmament. You want a safer campus? It begins with renewing a culture of self-defense--mind, spirit and body. It begins with two words: Fight back.
Keep in mind that Thompson, Boortz, Derbyshire, Steyn and Malkin wrote these things before any of the victims had even been buried, before their families had time to even begin to grieve--so technically I suppose one cannot accuse them of dancing on the victims' graves. But I don't think I'm alone in detecting more than a little shadenfeude in their pronouncements about leftists gunned down in the heart of academia. The funny thing is, none of them seem to really condemn the killer, do they?

What Thompson and the other "blame-the-victim" talking heads have failed to show is whether any of the victims even owned guns. Yep, I haven't heard of a single victim or bystander in this tragedy that was a gun owner. I haven't heard of anyone holding a concealed carry license. In short, the gun-free zone law that so offends the gun lobby probably made no difference because none of the victims have shown any inclination to carry guns, legal or not.

This op-ed will come back to haunt Thompson if he gets the nomination.

H/T Media Matters and Raising Kaine.


Jakob Walter Uhlen said...

Your original hunch is probably right-on-- Thompson's toast. And if Derbyshire, Boortz, Steyn and the rest of the usual Gang of Idiots weren't already despised by people on the left, right-- basically anyone with some remnant of compassion in their hearts-- then they certainly are now.

Somehow, blaming victims of a horrible mass murder for not being more "courageous" isn't exactly the best way to win friends and influence people. I still think that Rudy Giuliani will probably win the 2008 election (for better or worse, which I say as a Democrat), in no small part since his would-be rivals seem to be such first-class a**holes.

What's obvious to anybody with a couple lobes of brain function is that there's no damn way anybody under the circumstances, with such uncertainty prevailing and the skill of Cho's deadly aim in such obvious evidence, would have realistically rushed him. Would Boortz, Thompson, Malkin and the others, without body armor, have rushed an insurgent suicide bomber in Fallujah if drafted for Iraq?

Methinks these chickenhawks would be cowering like frightened little sheep in some up-armored Stryker vehicle while their better-trained, cooler-headed and less-loudmouthed fellow soldiers were out actually confronting the danger.

In fact, I propose that we hereby draft Boortz, Thompson, Malkin, Steyn and Derbyshire for Army duty in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq. (Especially Malkin-- how fun it would be to see her try to walk her belligerent walk surrounded by bloodthirsty insurgents in Samarra.)

We're losing the Iraq War in no small part due to lack of enough fighting soldiers after all, so why not draft such enthusiastic armchair warriors for duty themselves?

Chip said...

If you look at the statements by Fred Thompson, he doesn't blame the victims. He does blame Virginia Tech University for banning guns on their campus. Creating a "safe" zone for the killer to do what he did.

By the way, there were two people that do legally carry weapons on their person (yes they were there, close to the shooting!), that were made helpless by the University's rules.

They were not victims, just bystanders that had to run away rather than try and confront the killer and possibly save some lives. All because they were unarmed by the University itself.

There were two interviews with one of the people, and none with the other person. There may have been more people there to stop the killer. Nobody really knows. If these people didn't make it so easy for something like this to happen by make the place "safe" for the criminal to do what he did, then nobody would have said a thing.

None of the articles I've read blame the victims. Just the policies in place by Virginia Tech.

This probably won't get posted online because it addresses your hype with facts. But we'll see.