From left to right, we see 62-year-old British businessman Christopher Norman, and Americans Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone, and Alek Skarlatos, with French President François Hollande. Sadler is a senior at Sacramento State University, Stone is an Airman 1st Class, and Skarlatos is an Oregon National Guardsman recently returned from Afghanistan.
Sadler, Stone, and Skarlatos have been friends since they were in a Christian middle school. (Might there be a clue here?) They were going to remain in Amsterdam another day, but decided to go to Paris. They were in another train car, but because they were unable to connect with WiFi, they changed cars. They heard a gunshot and saw an extremist Muslim terrorist with an AK47 and several spare magazines of ammunition. French police discovered that the individual had just watched a terrorist video on his cell phone. (Might there be a clue here, too?)
Ordinary people would have crouched down and hoped that others would be shot. But not these men. Apparently it was Skarlatos who said, “Go get him!” In doing so, Skarlatos was following in the footsteps of Todd Beamer, whose immortal “Let’s roll!” led the passengers’ revolt against the hijackers of United 93 on 9/11. (Don’t worry, Todd, we’re still rolling.)
Skarlatos and his friends rushed the length of the car. Stone wrestled the man to the floor and put a choke hold on him. Skarlatos seized his AK47 as well as a pistol. But the Moroccan, who reportedly had visited Syria, continued to struggle. Stone was slashed with a box cutter; his left thumb was almost severed.
Eventually the terrorist passed out and was hog-tied with a necktie and a scarf. Despite his own wounds, Stone – who is a medic – tended to a wounded Frenchman and stopped arterial bleeding from his neck by inserting two fingers, almost surely saving the man’s life. Skarlatos went through the train reassuring passengers that the danger was over. He collected blankets for the wounded.
Lest you imagine that I am a chauvinist who believes that only Americans can be exceptional, listen to the words of Chris Norman, the 62-year-old British businessman and grandfather:
I thought, I’m probably going to die anyway. I’d rather die being active, trying to get him down, than simply sit in the corner and be shot.
Obviously, courage is not exclusive to any group. Resistance to tyrants and bullies is not limited to one nationality. Still, it is interesting that the four persons responsible for taking down the terrorist and preventing mass slaughter were all native speakers of English. No, it is not genetic – the four were unrelated. Nor is it racial – three were white and one was black. Nor is it national – three were Americans and one was a Brit.
It is cultural – a learned resistance to bullying, and a learned empowerment to do something rather than remain passive in the presence of evil. So where does it come from? How is it learned? Can it be taught? Why is it more common in some nations than in others? Why is it common – though perhaps less common than formerly – in America?
Obviously, not all Americans are exceptional – far from it. But exceptional people are more likely to be Americans. That is what we mean when we use the shorthand, “America is exceptional.” But many of the “elite” vehemently deny this:
I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.
– Barack Obama, 2009
Of course, if everyone is exceptional, then no one is. But it’s not that President Obama and his friends on the Left don’t really think America is exceptional. They believe it is exceptional, but that it shouldn’t be. So they do everything they can to end its exceptional nature, and to make it resemble other nations. They are Europeanizing America.
Don’t get me wrong. I love Europe. That is, I love to visit it, but I wouldn’t want to live there. Europe gave us two world wars, socialism, communism, fascism, Nazism, and perfected racism and anti-Semitism. So why do “progressives” think America should be more like Europe?
Europeans lived for centuries under kings and emperors. They came to believe that power flows from the top down. So they felt comfortable when their new rulers called themselves der Führer, the Central Committee of the Communist Party, the Council of the European Union, or whatever. The idea was familiar:
● The “elite” decide what is best for the “common people,” and then cram it down their throats.
● The “elite” dream up notions of the “ideal” state, and leave the “common people” to deal with the inevitable mess that results.
● The “elite” are cared for in the best hospitals and clinics, and relegate the “common people” to the tender mercies of “gatekeepers” who may − or may not − allow you to see imported doctors from Outbackistan. But they expect the “common people” to be grateful for “universal coverage.” The problem is that “universal coverage” may turn out to be with six feet of dirt.
● The “elite” send their children to the best schools and universities, and relegate the children of the “common people” to lousy schools, where they get lousy educations, which prepare them for lousy jobs, which pay lousy salaries, which leave them dependent on the government for a lifetime of “assistance.” But they expect the “common people” to be grateful for the “universal education” − and for the “assistance.”
● The “elite” view schools and universities as sources of indoctrination, not education. They require students to regurgitate the “correct” doctrine, whether it is Nazi, communist, socialist, or environmentalist. Original thought is punished with lower grades.
● The “elite” view children as wards of the state, for whom parents have only limited responsibility. They view home-schooling with alarm, and they want to imprison parents who home-school their children, as is already done in (surprise!) Germany.
● The “elite” live and work in upscale neighborhoods, so they have no need to defend themselves against violent criminals − and they have no empathy for the poor or minorities who do have a need for self-defense. So the “elite” want the government to have a monopoly of weapons, which of course ensures that they will remain the “elite.”
● The “elite” view the government as the primary source of help for those in need. So they vote the “correct” way, but like Europeans, they give little to charity, and they actually discourage giving to charity.
● The “elite” care little for foreigners who suffer and die, so like Europeans, they want to shrink the military until it is too weak to intervene to stop tyranny or mass murder. They run up huge debts and push new social programs, leaving less money for defense. They even want to cut medical benefits for troops and veterans, giving new meaning to the word “ingratitude.” Europeans could let their defenses atrophy, because America defended them. But if we weaken ourselves, who will defend us? Luxembourg? Who will fight global terrorism? Liechtenstein?
Americans, on the contrary, believe that power flows from the bottom up. They believe in trying something, and if it doesn’t work, trying something else. They don’t believe in allowing the “elite” to impose their unworkable notions of the “ideal” state. They view their children as divine gifts, for whom they have ultimate responsibility to bring up to be self-reliant, moral citizens.
In fact, Americans don’t believe in the “elite” in the first place. So obviously, the self-anointed “elite” don’t like American ideas, and they do their best to dismantle the American system.
The American idea of God-given rights is utterly foreign to the “elite,” who are much more comfortable with the European idea of privileges granted − or withdrawn − at the whim of the government.
The American idea of individuals responsible to a just God for themselves and their neighbors is also utterly foreign to the “elite,” who are much more comfortable with the European idea of infantilized subjects dependent on a parentified government to protect them, care for them, dole out money to them, and in general control their lives. If people can’t even choose their own light bulbs, toilets, dishwasher detergent, or shower heads, in what sense are they free?
How could you possibly expect such passive, submissive people to tackle an armed terrorist? But Americans still do exactly that. Perhaps we are not quite so unexceptional as the “elite” would like. Perhaps all we need is a president who believes in our exceptionalism.
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