Friday, September 12, 2003

Passing strange
Mark Steyn asks about the murder of Swedish Minister Anna Lindh, How can anyone be a bystander while someone is stabbed?
There seem to have been an awful lot of bystanders to Miss Lindh's stabbing - in broad daylight, in a crowded department store, after being pursued by her assailant up an escalator.
Sheesh! I hadn't heard all the details.
Granted that many of the people bystanding around were women, it still seems odd - at least from my side of the Atlantic - that no one attempted to intervene or halt the blood-drenched killer as he calmly left the store. I'm inclined to agree with Jimmy Hoffa that I'd rather jump a gun than a knife - and even Jimmy's luck ran out eventually - but, if just a handful of the dozens present had acted rather than bystanding, Miss Lindh might still be dead, but her killer would be in jail and not en route, like Olof Palme's, to becoming yet another man that got away.
With all due respect to Jimmy, his comment only applies if you are empty handed. A department store is chock full of all kinds of crap that can be used effectively. Hey, throw stuff at him, if you don't want to get too close.
"It's terrible wherever it happens," said Fredrik Sanabria. "But you think you would be safe from this kind of violence in a country like Sweden."

Really? Why would you think that? Sweden's violent crime and murder rates have been going up, up, up over the past quarter-century. But just about every Swede quoted in every news story seems mired in what National Review's Dave Kopel described, after 9/11, as "the culture of passivity". The lone exception was Lanja Rashid, a Kurdish immigrant. "If I had been there at the stabbing, I would have ripped his face off," she said. "How could people just stand back and watch?"
It's nice that there's one Swede with her head screwed on straight. Must not have been there long enough.
You can blame it on a lack of police, as everyone's doing. But Miss Lindh's killer didn't get away with it because of the people who weren't there, but because of the people who were: the bystanders. When I bought my home in New Hampshire, I heard a strange rustling one night and, being new to rural life, asked my police chief the following morning, if it had turned out to be an intruder, whether I should have called him at home. "Well, you could," said Al. "But it would be better if you dealt with him. You're there and I'm not." That's the best advice I've ever been given.

This isn't an argument for guns, it's more basic than that: it's the difference between a citizen and a nanny-state baby. In Lee Harris's forthcoming book Civilization And Its Enemies, he talks about the threat of societal forgetfulness: "Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe."
It wasn't that many centuries ago that the ancestors of these Swedes were some of the toughest customers around. I guess they did forget.

But sometimes folks remember.
But, of course, no one will ever hijack an American plane ever again - not because of idiotic confiscations of tweezers, but because of the brave passengers on the fourth flight. That's why the great British shoebomber had barely got the match to his sock before half the cabin pounded the crap out of him. Even the French. To expect the government to save you is to be a bystander in your own fate.
Amen, brother.