Thursday, August 2, 2012

A defense of the courage shown at the Aurora, CO theater

I read a blog post this past weekend that attempted to establish the premise that everyone in the Aurora, CO theater was a coward because no one charged the gunman and tried to take him down. I found the opinion piece extremely disturbing, not only because of the level of heartlessness it would take to attempt to blame the victims for the crime, but because of the blatant disregard for the facts of what happened there. For starters, he completely ignored every story of the men who died shielding their girlfriends from the spray of bullets. In his haste to defend his presupposed premise of cowardice he completely overlooked the obvious acts of courage and bravery.
He compared this event to the passengers aboard United Airlines 93 who overwhelmed the terrorists and courageously crashed it into the Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. There are a few problems with that comparison though. First, the passengers that day had already been made aware that the terrorists were turning the planes into missiles and therefore their own best chance for survival was to retake the plane. Second, the terrorists on that plane were not armed to the teeth with assault shotguns, semi-automatic AR-15s, handguns and body armor. Third, they had time to consult with one another and come up with a synchronized plan. On the other hand, the theater goers on the night of July 20th were taken by surprise by a man whom they initially thought was part of the movie, then hit with smoke grenades, and by the time they knew what was going on the entire thing was over, from the time he walked through the exit door to the time the shooting stopped was under five minutes. Just a few minutes of utter pandemonium and chaos! The two events were so dissimilar in their basic elements that to attempt to compare the two is a disservice to the heroes from both attacks.
Lastly, my disagreement with his point hinges on his assumption that courage must take an offensive strategy. Thomas Aquinas on the other hand said, "The principal act of courage is to endure and withstand dangers doggedly rather than to attack them". In my opinion, it would have been easier in a moment of panic to charge the gunman and leave my loved ones to fend for themselves, than it would have been to stay hunched over them as I heard the killer and his shots moving ever closer to my aisle. But "easier" rarely equals "right" or "brave" and in this situation I side with Mr. Aquinas, I salute the incredible courage shown by those who chose to withstand the danger of being shot while protecting their girlfriends over the option of madly attacking the villain.
This author attempted to form the premise that bravery always attacks the danger, but I think the flaw in that assertion should be obvious, the only person in that theater that was a real coward, was the one doing the attacking!