Friday, February 23, 2007

Senior Citizens Fight Back

OHMYGOSH. A tourist bus of senior citizens in Costa Rica fought off three men who tried to rob them. One attacker was killed. I don't think anyone should make generalizations about Costa Rica about this. I just got back from a week there and it was fabulous. What they maybe ought to do, though, is re-evaluate just who is considered an easy mark!

Glenn over at Instapundit linked this story with the subject "A pack, not a herd." That's his thing, or one of his things, the power that each individual has not to be a member of a herd of prey animals. (No doubt he explains himself much better than I just did.)

Is it important that this particular bus of senior citizens were American? Maybe. I donno. It could have been because one or more individuals inclined to take action just happened to be on that bus. The senior citizen who killed one attacker bare handed had been in the military. Perhaps a bus without him on it would have lacked the catalyst to act and simply handed over their money. Maybe. I donno.

I think that it's true, however, that Americans more than some others, expect to take responsibility for their own safety. I'm not talking about taking the law into their own hands, but taking responsibility for their *defense* into their own hands. I'm talking about taking responsibility for other's defense into their own hands.

I see evidence of this in the oddest places. I was critiquing part of a story for a young lady from England (it was actually very good, quirky and fun) and in the story an airport employee runs down and catches a terrorist. If you're American and you read this, tell me what you think would happen to that employee.

If you're not American and you read this, tell me what you think would happen to that employee.

What happened in the story was she got in trouble. The character was actually surprised she didn't get in much worse trouble than she did. It wasn't her *job* to stop the terrorist.

Yes, yes. It was a story but it still says something about a difference in expectations. I'm assuming that the reaction of that character, if not typical, would have at least made *sense* to a British audience. It really wouldn't have made sense to an American one.

There are a lot of people in the world that find our fascination with guns baffling and our insistance that we have a Right to own them incomprehensible. In essence it's nothing more than a belief in the Right to self-defense, the Right to be our own protector. Not everyone agrees with the need for gun ownership but I believe that even most of those who don't still would agree that we have the Right to be our own protectors.

And whatever propensity we had for passivity it took a huge hit on 9-11. No, no. A tourist bus is not an airplane and robbers aren't terrorists. But Flight 93 (if I've got that number correct) took responsibility for fighting back instead of waiting for someone to arrive who had the "job" even before the national conversation that took place after 9-11. If it happened today, would any of those planes reach their targets? Maybe not. I donno.

But I remember that national conversation that went on afterward. Do you? Fight back, people said. Don't hesitate, don't be fearful, just fight back. The bad guys can't take us all. The bad guys can't stop a planeful of grannies. Don't be afraid of getting hurt because the bad guys *can't* win. They could fight off one or two, but not everyone. Everyone is powerful and everyone can fight back.

There were a few people who argued that it was cruel to lie to grandma and tell her she was able to defend herself but they missed the point. Grandma wasn't expected to fight off terrorists alone. It was a choice between being a part of a passive herd and being part of a pack.


I just got back from Costa Rica where I participated in a karate tournament and I'll admit that I thought about what would happen if someone tried to hijack the plane. (I never once considered what would happen if someone tried to hold up our tour bus.) Our team wasn't all on the same flights (though we'd all be on the same bus!) but there were several of us, usually, scattered around the plane. Also, last week, an organization called Bodog was filming a mixed martial arts reality show in Costa Rica and several fighters who had participated in that were on the same flights as our team.

On one flight a member of our team sat near a woman who hadn't flown recently and was nervous about terrorism. He laughed, talking about overhearing her, because probably a quarter of the other passengers were marital artists... some of them big burly guys in their 20's but quite a few of them senior citizens, middle-aged house-wives, and teenagers. It wouldn't have been possible to chose a worse plane to try to hijack.

But really, it didn't matter. Old people on a bus prove it.

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