“Titanic” in 3D: A Warning for America

By | September 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

When the movie “Titanic” was re-released in 3D, scenes of the sinking of the great ship with the loss of 1500 lives were even more dramatic. But as we contemplate the tragedy that happened 107 years ago, we wonder whether we have learned anything in all that time.

Do you recall why the ship sank? It had 16 watertight compartments, but they were open on top. Five compartments at the front of the ship were ripped open by the iceberg. The ship could have stayed afloat for hours like that, until a rescue ship arrived.

But as the water entered, the front of the ship grew heavier and sank lower. Then water spilled over the top of the fifth compartment into the sixth. As it filled, the bow sank still lower, and water began to spill into the seventh compartment, and so on. The ship sank in a short time, and 1500 people drowned.

The film has an instructive scene, if we are wise enough to recognize it. After the ship hit the iceberg, the designer, Thomas Andrews, brought the blueprints to the captain. He explained why it was inevitable that the ship would sink, declaring, “It’s a mathematical certainty.” The captain understood, but by then it was too late.

No one ‒ not the most skillful seaman, not the most charismatic captain ‒ could save the ship at that point. Sometimes personal relationships, businesses, and even nations are like that. Sometimes things have deteriorated too far to be remedied. Sometimes all we can do is regret that we did not act sooner, when the situation was still reversible.

Andrews had designed a good ship, but it wasn’t foolproof. Nothing can withstand a big enough fool. We need to keep that in mind on Election Day. Andrews went down with the ship. His sacrifice assured that his name would live in honor, but it did nothing to assure that the other 1499 victims would live at all. Only a wiser captain could have prevented their deaths. Dying with honor is good, but living with wisdom is better – and a lot less painful for all concerned.

Titanic buffs argue about how better construction of the watertight compartments might have kept the ship afloat longer. They argue about what the officers on the bridge might have done differently. For example, instead of reversing both the port and starboard engines, would the ship have turned in a shorter distance if the starboard engine had remained going ahead, providing extra impetus to the turn, while the port engine was reversed?

And Titanic buffs argue about whether another officer could have done better than First Officer Murdoch, who happened to be on watch that fateful night. Could Captain Smith or Chief Officer Wilde have handled the ship more effectively in the emergency? Could one of the junior officers have done more?

All this is idle speculation. The crucial event was Captain Smith’s decision to maintain full speed, despite repeated iceberg warnings by wireless, despite the moonless night, and despite the unusually calm sea ‒ so there were no white breakers at the iceberg’s base to make it more visible. Once Captain Smith made that decision, Titanic was doomed in all probability, no matter who was on watch, and no matter what he did once the iceberg was sighted.

But, you ask, how can the sad fate of Titanic apply to us today?

Republicans argue about the deficit, about immigration, about Afghanistan. They argue about whether President Trump should Tweet less, ignoring the likelihood that if he didn’t Tweet, he might not be president. They argue about what to do to reverse the penetration of leftism into every aspect of society, including education, religion, professional societies, social sciences, and even natural sciences. They argue about the increasing levels of bitterness, arrogance, and censorship that characterize the Left.

All these arguments are relevant, but they obscure the critical point that something must be done promptly. Instead, we bicker about details. It is as if the officers on the Titanic were arguing about how sharply to turn the wheel ‒ instead of just turning it.

But the most strident arguments among Republicans concern President Trump. Never-Trumpers persist in their detestation of the president, ignoring his successes and emphasizing his failings to the point that they deny reality.

This anti-Trump sentiment is equivalent to saying that if their favorite officer is not on the bridge, they will not assist whoever is there in his effort to turn the wheel and avoid the iceberg of leftism and statist control. How selfish and short-sighted is that?

It is as if some people on Titanic declared, “We don’t like First Officer Murdoch. He sometimes expresses opinions with which we disagree, and he speaks too roughly. So we won’t lift a finger to help him turn the wheel. We like Second Officer Lightoller. He speaks more politely. If he were on the bridge, we’d help him save the ship. But with Murdoch, forget it! We’re going to the lounge to have a drink.”

Other Republicans believe that if a Democrat ousts Trump from the White House in 2020, in another four years a more suitable Republican can be elected, one who is a member of their club, and he will save the day. But after four years of Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders or whomever, will there be anything left worth saving?

Do they imagine that then, the economic and political debacle will be reversible by anyone? These people expect a disaster but assume that they can control and profit from the disaster. How risky and illogical is that?

When a spoiled child does not get his way, he takes his glove and goes home sulking, and the baseball game goes on ‒ perhaps better than before. But if a critical number of Republicans stay home sulking on Election Day, and as a result an overt socialist is elected, the country will not go on better than before ‒ and may not go on at all. America may hit the iceberg of irreversible statism. In that case, we will all suffer the consequences of these people’s spiteful narcissism.

“Titanic” in 3D makes a dramatic movie, but a terribly bad role model for America.

 Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.

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