Bowman riffs on this piece in the Telegraph in which the behavior of the sailors and marines is contrasted with the behavior of earlier generations of servicemen. The author of that piece, Simon Reff, wonders what happened in the intervening years to make their responses so different. Bowman applies that question to the students at Viginia Tech.
Heffer’s question could also be asked, I think, about the Virginia Tech students who fled as the Korean gunman, Cho Seung Hui went on his homicidal rampage on their campus Monday — or who, like Jamal Albarghouti, instead of fleeing, took out their cell phones to record the sights and sounds of the massacre. “This is what this YouTube-Facebook-instant messaging generation does,” reported the Washington Post of Albarghouti’s exploit as if it were a matter for pride: “Witness. Record. Share.” And, as the Post might have added, not fight back. It appears to have occurred to no one to do that. Or even to wonder whether or not it might have been desirable to do that. “You are one brave guy Jamal,” wrote someone on his Facebook site after his video had run on CNN.com. But the idea that any greater bravery than his might have been possible — the kind of bravery that could have saved lives by taking down the gunman earlier in his murderous career — is one that seems not to have been picked up on the LCDs of the YouTube-Facebook-instant-messaging generation.It's one thing to expect a certain standard of behavior from soldiers and sailors in a war zone. Quite another to expect students in a classroom, who had every expectation to believe that they were in a safe haven, to put down a relentless maniac who's blasting away at them with a gun in each hand. Especially since those students were living and working in a designated gun-free zone.
I wish someone had stopped Cho Seung Hui before he'd killed more than 30 people, but I'm certainly not going to blame the victims for getting caught in his path.