Heroes in Aurora

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I suspect that a good many of them have, and it’s pretty clear to me what “lesson” your typical Women’s Studies prof would draw from the events of that night.  Namely, this: the human male, born savage, has been more or less domesticated in most of the countries of the developed world, thanks in large part to their stricter limits on gun ownership and their more feminist-influenced cultures.  In America, however, owing to its deplorable Second Amendment and its Wild West mentality, the male of the species remains more untamed – in love with guns, in love with violence.  I suspect that in recent days, James Holmes has been cited in a thousand classrooms as a cautionary example of the male as monster: look, even the harmless-looking science nerd can be a mass murderer!

Americans and Europeans alike talk as if America alone had its Columbines and Virginia Techs.  Why is it that none of the most recent atrocities of this kind in Western Europe – among them the 2007 incident in which a Finnish student gunned down eight people at his school, the 2009 murder of fourteen people in and around a German school, the 2011 killing of six people at a Dutch mall, not even the mass slaughter in Norway – has acquired a catchy shorthand name like “Columbine”?  Why (except for the Norwegian massacre) do they disappear so quickly off the international radar screen?  Why are atrocities like Columbine and Virginia Tech always served up as evidence of some deeper malady that afflicts only America, while similar events in other countries are never analyzed in such terms?  Can it be that what truly sets America apart is not the frequency of such incidents within its borders but the astonishing degree of reflexive heroism of which its people are capable when faced with such an event?

I wonder: how many Women’s Studies professors have taken time in recent days to consider what lessons the actions of Jon Blunk, Alex Teves, and Matt McQuinn might teach us about the human male – and, in particular, perhaps, about the American male?  Might their threefold heroism actually be a symptom of something special and wonderful about America – something that has to do with its history of individualism and self-reliance, of frontier-conquering pioneers and GIs who liberated foreign peoples from totalitarian tyranny?  How indeed, one almost wants to ask, is it possible that in a culture suffused with radical-feminist male-hatred and scorn for traditional gender roles that all three of these young men acted instantly to risk their lives for the women they loved?

Blunk, to be sure, was a veteran who wanted to be a Navy SEAL, and whose military training might be credited in part for his spontaneous act of valor.  But the others?  McQuinn was a clerk at Target.  And Teves was a psych student, who in the last couple of years may well have been exposed to even more mindless, male-bashing PC claptrap than I have while working on my book.  But all three of them acted like Navy SEALs.  They all died proving that they had what Tom Wolfe called the Right Stuff.  To what extent was this the result of sheer primitive instinct, and to what extent the product of civilized ethical upbringings?  To what extent can it be fairly characterized as distinctly American? 

Many Western Europeans, of course, consider themselves more civilized than Americans, and as an example of their superiority they routinely point to their revulsion for gun rights.  But at what point in the climb toward true civilization do you start to slide downhill into the slough of decadence?  Who is more civilized, the man who stands by passively and impotently while murderous mischief is afoot or the man whose first instinct is to take responsibility – and to take immediate action?

Until not terribly long ago, major works in all the major forms of narrative in Western culture – novels, stories, plays, films – routinely and uncynically held up as heroes men who put their lives on the line for others.  Self-sacrifice: this was, ultimately, what it meant to be a man.  What, if anything, does it mean that of all the storytelling genres and subgenres – high, low, and in between – that are thriving in today’s postmodern, irony-besotted West, pretty much the only one in which the leading male characters can usually be relied upon to be not just protagonists but real heroes, valiant and chivalrous in the corniest old-fashioned sense, is the action-comic movie – presumably (though I haven’t seen it yet myself) like Batman: The Dark Knight Rises?  Which brings us to one last question (for now, anyway): is it fair to wonder what would have happened if a crazed gunman had decided to shoot up a theater in Manhattan – or Amsterdam, or Stockholm – in which people were watching, say, the latest Woody Allen movie?

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  • Chezwick

    We all have our bigotries I suppose. My contempt for the so-called BGLT community is mostly due to their far-Left political inclinations, but try as I may to be open minded, I acknowledge that it might not end there. Nonetheless, I swear that Bruce Bawer shatters preconceptions and stereotypes about what a gay man is every time he publishes an article….just by virtue of his thought processes. He is the quintessential straight-shooter, sensibilities be damned; someone who attacks the issues with unapologetic clarity and verve. He's one gay man that I truly admire….and I'm sure as hell glad he's on our side.

    • Stephen_Brady

      Well thanks, Chez, for telling me something I didn't know and didn't even want to know about Mr. Bawer. However, your assessment of him is spot on.

      Says something for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", doesn't it?

    • Chiggles

      Chez, you may like this blog of a self-described "gay male gun nut in Vermont". http://alphecca.com/

    • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

      No thanks Mr. Chezwick for telling me something I didn't know and didn't even want to know about Mr. Bawer!

      And no thanks for promoting homosexualism, for using their euphemism and crippling the language. The word "gay" does have already its original meaning "joyous".

      And no thanks for referring to "bigotry" in the sense as though rejection of en entire class or party of people based on their agenda and behavior were a sin.

      • Ray Olson

        Unfortunately, Mr. Gofen, rejecting en entire class or party of people is a sin if it leads one to dismiss each individual person in the class or party because he identifies with that class or party. We are supposed to judge each person's worth discretely, considering each person completely. It just won't do to blackball a person because he is a communist, a libertarian, a Muslim, or homosexual.

        • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

          There do exist entirely bad parties: bad in their very platform or tenets. The contemporary loose usage of the tag "bigotry" aims to shut up any criticism against such parties, to shield each and every its member from being criticized, and even to "celebrate" them all.

          Yes, it can happen that a good person formally belongs to a bad party, like Oscar Schindler – formally a Nazi. (People ought to "belong" for the reasons of survival, mimicry, and similar). However we appreciate such people not for "to whom they happened to belong", but rather for what they actually do despite where they belong.

          • Ray Olson

            I stand by my words. We may not regard any person as morally worthless because he or she belongs to a class or party. To do so is a sin, for to do so is to condemn the sinner with the sin.

  • Billy Corr

    Marc Steyn tells a similar tale set in Canada some years ago.

    The narrative was different in that the males left the university auditorium in a calm and orderly manner, aware that a single gunman was about to murder as many women as he could.

    Another reader, more memorious than am I, can probably find a link.

  • Billy Corr

    A little thought and it was found:


    However, the Steyn commentary is the useful one.

  • Billy Corr

    Here is a part of it, with otherr comments:

    Enough from me!

  • Rivkah F.

    That was the first thing that I thought of too. In the old days, they would have been called "gentlemen" but they are heroes. I am sure there are many more like them, not only in the U.S. Certainly, in Israel, where I live, there have been all too many heroic moments when people have sacrificed their own lives in terror
    attacks in order to save others. And in Virginia Tech, there was Prof. Librescu who acted
    quickly to save his students from the mass murderer and was shot. But Bawer is right. These examples should be discussed and praised. May they rest in peace.

  • oldtimer

    God bless them, may the rest in peace, keep all of those who were there, and their families, in your prayers.

  • PhillipGaley

    Not every male body in Western Europe is the body of a coward?

    Nice score, . . . left their guns, their G0D, and their women, . . . Australians, too.

  • R. M. Tamarind

    Is there such a thing as a posthumous Medal of Freedom that could/should be awarded to these men?

  • Surly Curmudgen

    There where several other heroic acts in the theatre that night. I counted at least eight. The most heroic in my opinion was a thirteen year old who stayed, when she could have run, with bullets flying and the confusion and tried to get an adult body of the six year old girl to try to save her life. The three men prominent in this article and adults gave their lives protecting their girl friends, someone they knew. This girl thirteen years old stayed to help a stranger risking her life in doing so.

    While trying to count the acts of heroism I was wondering if this is a part of what we as Americans are and if that degree of heroism is found in other nations. That question was answered by this article. There was a disquieting thought with this. Twenty, thirty even fifty years ago there would have been an active offence not just passive defence. A half dozen or more men in a full out charge at the shooter would have taken him out with fewer deaths. What has changed from fifty years ago?

    • Deerknocker

      Surly, I'm not sure a half dozen men could have made it through to a shooter armed with an AR-15 with a 100 round clip, but I'm pretty sure a few men or women armed with concealed carry weapons could have kept the shooter ducking more than shooting. Those three dead young men might have had a chance to save themselves as well as their girlfriends if they had a weapon. Time for us to insist that we have the right to self defense and concealed carry is one of the best ways to be prepared to exercise self defense.

      By the way, I too was humbled by the actions of the 13 year old. Would that I would be so brave in such circumstances.

      • dmw

        In one of the interviews of survivors that I saw, the survivor testified that she was overcome with with the effects of gas (could not see) and smoke and it was very dark as well. So in my mind the ability of most (or all?) of any potential defenders or perp attackers was severely degraded in order to adequately observe and develop an orientation and then a decision of multiple people as to where and who to attack.

        Remember Flight 93!

    • Jim_C

      How many private citizens 50 years ago could come to a movie theater armed with tear gas and automatic weapons? And how many private citizens, now, have the training and presence of mind to negotiate tear gas, locate and neutralize a target in a panicking room? We currently have thousands of brave men and women putting their lives on the line overseas–voluntarily. So why do "curmudgeons" insist life was somehow "manlier" in the old days?

  • Tanstaafl jw

    This is our sacred duty. To protect those we love.

  • Amused

    Congrats Bower , you even manage to inserta typical denigration , in the face of such a trgedy and acts of heroism . Strip away all the blather in your article and what's left is a denigration of women . You insult the intelligence of anyone reading your article . You obviously know your main audience , since few posters as of yet have detected your transparency and numerous references to woman's studies . . in the vain that you used them .

    • intrcptr2

      So, what, are you saying that "women's studies" and women are pretty much the same thing, and that anyone who denigrates the former is clearly aiming at the latter?

      I wish I had your word processor, putting my own sentences together is a real drag.

    • Stephen_Brady

      I'm certain than Mr. Bawer had the "denigration of women" in mind, as he wrote his article. Anyone with half a mind can tell that.

      • Amused

        LOL….didn't I say Bawer "knows his main audience " ? Question for the hopelessly ignorant – "Did bawer mention the heroism of that 13 yr old " ? Hows about Ft .Hood ? The female cop who returned fire even after being shot herself ?
        Man you guys are as dumb as dirt , don't even know when you're being baited and on the hook . The construct here rather obvious , womans right /studies = liberal = left . So it all boils down to just another political exploitation of a tragic incident .
        There is no limit to the depths some of FPM writers will plumb in order to make their partisan political point.
        But you guys are truly the perfect audience for this kind of bullsheeet.
        Look if you guys are too intellectually challenged to parse the writers agenda ….that ain't my fault .
        I do however give Bawer an A for subtlety and "round-about -ness " , the makings of a great propagandist . LOL….and these threads the perfect place to unleash it .

        • mah29001


  • Ghostwriter

    I think the point is that there were both heroes and heroines involved in this sad tragedy. Sadly,those like Amused wants to denigrate the male side when it's clear that there were heroes among both sexes.

  • BLJ

    These three young men paid the ultimate price to protect the women that they loved. I hope they are never forgotten (as the rest of those who died at the hands of that loser).

    • BS77

      Yes, these were very brave and caring guys.

  • ras

    Yes, Bruce, living in Malmö Sweden, where women are victimized like never before I have come to think less than admiringly off these feeble males, so busy styling themselves as multiculti etc etc. The best anyone can do is anonymously pass out a few fliers in the dead of night.

    • BS77

      HG WELLS, genius at work, described this behavior so well in The Time Machine. Just read the descriptions of the Eloi…..passive, weak and unable to even consider self defense.

  • Amused

    To Brody and Ghostewriter , I possess just average intelligence , but that's all it takes to see through Bawer's clever but transparent construct .For those of you who ASSume what I'm saying , I would simply say , take my words at face value , that is what I say is what I mean , not what you think I mean , a bad habit that many of you here seem to embrace .Bawer praises these acts of bravery and supreme sacrifice as DO I , however I take exception to his INJECTION of the woman's studies , radical feminism and the rest of the bullsheet , which are totally exterraneous to the subject , but Bawer cleverly weaves them in to make a political point . And that's only part of it , but if you missed that , then you are sure to have missed the 80% or so of the article which has nothing to do with praising these young men , but rather the rest of the picture he's painting for you to see . Oh brother are you guys blind or what ?? From the type of audiences compared to a type of movie to geographical location , al; suggestions for the gullible mind . What about the 13 yr old girl ?

    • Stephen_Brady

      A conserative columnist is clever? Doesn't that go against the narrative?

      I possess just average intelligence …

      Ah, but I beg to differ with you, sir. The very username you employ … "Amused" … implies a self-image of superior intellectual ability and intelligence. That is why you are so "amused". You see yourself, in the mirror, laughing at all of the rubes, rednecks, and hicks that, in your estimation, make up the conservative movement. Are you indeed of superior intelligence, or are you simply "average"? Logic dictates that you can't be both. Consistency, sir, is called for …

      I'm sure that the 13-year old girl was both terrified and courageous. But the article was not about girls, or feminism, or women's studies, except in the sense of how feminism and women's studies affects American manhood. His conclusion, based upon his thesis statement, is that American manhood is alive and well, thank you.

      • Amused

        Terrorists are clever . " Rubes ,rednecks and hicks " is that YOUR self descriptor ? Again , all it takes is AVERAGR intelligence , or better put for your understanding , a high school level of reading comprehension . It is the GULLIBILTY of the Conservative movement that " amuses me " .Seemingly intelligent people who engage in cognizant dissonance for the sake of political partisanship . Indeed no event , can be seperated from the conservative narrative , no matter how serious or insignifigant , or no matter how irrelevant ….THAT "amuses me " . How your ideologues are worshipped and their words defended no matter how ignorant or obtuse they may be …THAT "amuses me " . How the assumptions ,accusations , innuendo and aspersions cast are so easily digested , how slurrs and slanders are pronounced , back-peddled , excuses made and then said remarks eventually defended then justified …THAT "amuses me " . I have been nothing but consistent . For both the left AND the right have been CONSISTENTLY caught in outright lies and purposed half-truths. Would you deny that ? Sorry Bawer duped you …that's not my fault .

        • Stephen_Brady

          I was duped by Mr. Bawyer? It seems to me that … of the two of us … I was the one who caught his thesis statement, which you obviousy overlooked. Since you didn't take notice of it, I can only assume that you never made it to a "high school level of reading comprehension".

          The only person I've ever worshipped is Jesus Christ. Even Ronald Wilson Reagan was only admired by me … never worshipped. I'm sorry that your "christ" is about to be evicted from the White House.

          One last point for you … if you are going to accuse other people of being stupid, or ignorant, edit, edit, and then edit some more. You end up looking like the "rube, redneck, and hick" when you talk of people of average intelligence, and then spell the word, in caps: "AVERAGR".

          • Amused

            Uh …look at the R and the E on the keyboard genius , it's a typo . The point remains , you got duped …lol….and like it . Good luck chump .

  • kong.ming

    If they ever ban pistols I'm carrying around a super soaker full of hydrochloric acid.

    And forget the police who say the way this creep was armored you couldn't take him down. A shot to the body armor will break ribs, at the least knock them down. You have the face mask which is a difficult, but not impossible shot. Pistol owners today are awesome shots and responsible. James Butler Hickok or Annie Oakley would do it and not spill their popcorn. You can always shot them in the feet, or shoot the gun, by the way. That's how the police took out the bank robbers in California.

    • Stephen_Brady

      A Remington Model 870 would do quite well, in a pinch!

  • Jim

    Perhaps they are relying on the authorities to do some thing………..