Why the Left Loves the Titanic Disaster

David Paulin, an Austin, TX-based freelance journalist, covered Hugo Chavez's rise to power while based in Caracas as a foreign correspondent. He also reported from the Caribbean while based in Kingston, Jamaica.


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He explains: “The modern public; immersed in the moral relativism that justifies all conducts, bombarded by attacks on the hypocrisy of Western culture, will grasp base behavior more readily than self-sacrifice, all the faster if it denigrates the rich and the powerful. As in every Mexican TV soap opera, Titanic’s rich behave like pigs. So much so that when Chinese president Jiang Zemin watched the movie, he smiled, ‘Gentlemen, behold the enemy.’ For him and many Americans, the movie’s cloying, cowardly first class passengers represent that capitalistic ethic.”

Were the elites of the Titanic different from the elites today? It’s a question Fareed Zakaria tackled his book “The Future of Freedom – Illiberal Democracy at Home & Abroad.” In 1912, he contends, elites were more likely to exercise power with responsibility.

The Titanic’s crew, to be sure, also were well-trained and thus facilitated the ship’s evacuation as best they could. In contrast, there’s the alleged misconduct of the captain and some crew members aboard the Italian cruise ship Concordia, a name synonymous with cowardice and incompetence. But was that ship’s entire evacuation a disgrace? There’s another side to the Concordia story: Hundreds of passengers, for instance, are shown in photos waiting in an orderly manner in the ship’s corridors; and there were reports of the ship’s staff and passengers rising to the occasion to help with the evacuation.

Consider as well the conduct of passengers aboard the “Hudson Miracle” flight, the US Airways jet that ditched in New York’s Hudson River. Even as water flooded into the jet, the jet’s evacuation was orderly — a fact that played a significant role in all passengers and crew members surviving. Many of the jet’s passengers were upper-middle-class business travelers. In a sense, it was a triumph of a well-trained crew and the shared middle-class values of the jet’s passengers.

It took the Titanic two and a half hours to sink. Order prevailed in contrast  to what happened abroad the Lusitania during the 20 minutes it took to sink after being torpedoed.

“If you’ve got an event that lasts two-and-a half hours, social order will take over and everybody will behave in a social manner. If you’re going down in under 17 minutes, basically it’s instinctual,” says David Savage, an economist at Queensland University in Australia, who has studied witness testimony from the Titanic.

And what about those lifeboats? In James Cameron’s film, the ship was not fitted with an adequate number of lifeboats due to a concern for ascetics: it was thought the deck would look cluttered with too many lifeboats.

In fact, the Titanic complied with existing maritime rules. And as a recent op-ed article by Chris Berg in the Wall Street Journal observed: It was thought at the time that lifeboats, rather than accommodating every passenger abroad the ship, would instead be used to transport passengers to ships coming to the rescue. “Had Titanic sunk more slowly, it would have been surrounded by the Frankfurt, the Mount Temple, the Birma, the Virginian, the Olympic, the Baltic and the first on the scene, the Carpathia,” according to Berg’s article “The Real Reason for the Tragedy of the Titanic.” “The North Atlantic was a busy stretch of sea. Or, had the Californian (within visual range of the unfolding tragedy) responded to distress calls, the lifeboats would have been adequate for the purpose they were intended—to ferry passengers to safety.”

Hollywood and leftist ideologies make lousy historians. Their retelling of the Titanic disaster offers abundant proof of that –  and in a way their tall tales are part of the poisonous effect of leftist ideology in the postmodern world. 

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  • Banastre tarleton

    Have you noticed the historical similarities betweeen the Titanic disaster and the events on 9/11 ?…both were icons for an era , both engineering marvels , both virtually indestructable , both symbols of the power of the capitalistic West and both were destroyed litterally '' out of the blue ''…the shock effect of 9/11 ,as news flashed around the world, must have been eerily like that fateful day in april 1912 …the final moments of that doomed ship as its stern rose almost vertically out of the water before a final crashing descent taking 1500 souls is eeerily similar to the horrible climax of 9/11…the Horror , the Horror !

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      Was it a militant suicidal ceberg?

      • Amused

        A "leftist iceberg " no doubt …..what a world were ignorance rules !

        • intrcptr2

          Why do you suppose Titanic was struck on her starboard side?

    • mlcblog

      or the Hindenberg disaster?

      What do they have in common? they are all disasters.

  • Amused

    OH what UTTER BULLSHEET . This article ius classic of MUCKRAKING YELLOW JOURNALISM [if it can be calle journalism at all ]
    The "left " loves the Titanic disaster ????? Man you are a disgrace . That's about all the words this POS article is worth . Shame on you Paulin .

    • Coach

      He is dead on. The Left loves anything that seemingly confirms their class warfare. The Left is vicious and will use any instance or incident to attack their political enemies.

      • Amused

        Join the club ….the asssholes club .

    • aspacia

      Refute Paulin's claims; you post is a waste of space.

  • PAthena

    The 1958 movie about the Titanic disaster, "A Night to Remember," is excellent.

    • intrcptr2

      Hollywood was a bit different then.

  • Jeff Miles

    This article is fiction. FACT: James Cameron, while a Hollywood icon, is a card carrying Republican. I have seen him at several conservative events. FACT: While the ship complied with all Maritime rules, the rules were changed after the disaster because they knew that the rules were inadequate for the size of the newer ships. More lifeboats were then required once it became obvious that no ship was "unsinkable." FACT: Stop trying to equate this disaster to todays struggle between left & right. It makes those of us on the right look stupid!

    • Stephen_Brady

      Republicans don't carry cards. We believe in one vote per person, and hope beyond hope that someone will ask us for a picture ID.

    • intrcptr2

      White Star actually designed Titanic with extra lifeboats, going beyond the bare requirements.
      The simple fact is that her sinking was a confluence of rather acceptable assumptions, each of which individually would have embarassed her owners, but when combined doomed her.

      Do Cameron's politics matter, if he continues making such politically loaded films (Especially ones which utterly obliterate real history)?

      And Paulin is not equating the disaster with current politics. He is pointing out that certain types take history and bend it to their own ends, which typically are not explaining it and learning from it (As opposed to brainwashing the weak of mind; https://www.google.com/#hl=en&safe=off&sc… ), and no, I do not think it coincidence that the tweets are from girls…

      • D S Dunlap

        I saw something about the Twitter tweets about people learning that the Titanic was an actual ship on Facebook. I shake my head at the ignorance and then wonder if these people have children. Then I realize that some of them DO….

    • http://www.magneticleaders.com Dave Johnson

      I would like to see any FACT references that he is Republican, curious as everything he does reflects LIBERAL -and all of his movies make strong political commentary. His Avatar carried the identical political philosophy as movies Pocahontas or Ferngully

  • babyanng

    Age ain't nothing but a number for these loved-up A-Listers. My BF and I both think so! He is almost 10 years older than I. We met via ~~Agelessmeet .COM~~ a nice place for younger women and older men, or older women and younger men, to interact with each other! Maybe you wanna check it out or tell your friends :)

  • Rifleman

    I confused the plane that went down in the Hudson with Air Florida Flight 90 that went down in the Potomac in '82. I knew "the 6th passenger" Arland Williams' son. Panic does occur in many emergencies, but people tend to behave much better in emergencies than hollyweird would have us believe.

  • http://skaughtbj.tumblr.com Skaught

    Cool story, bro. You should make a movie about it.

  • Terry DeBord

    I love this when the left takes some fact and twists all around. How about the Rudder wasa the wrong size, how does that fit into the argument or the Calafornian who turned off their radio at 10 PM or the bilge pumps in the front bulkhead compartments or the tops of the balkhead compartments not sealed or that 6 compartments filled when the ship could maintain float with only 5 filled and how about no safty training before the ship set sail. It seems like all things were not considered.

    • Amused

      Or how about the Captain , who once was advised of any icebergs , and there were several observed , should have IMMEDIATELY slowed down ,and plotted a more southerly course . Or how about the com,panies desire to surpass time crossing records ? The Tiatrnic actually ha 2 more lifeboats than necessarry , as British Shipping requirements which had not been updated since 1898 , went by tonnage and did not figure in the amount of persons actually on board . There was no S.O.S or Mayday signal in those days ….it was a perfect storm of consequences that led to this disaster . Another was the steel itself used to make the hull . It had an inferior concentration of the elements that give steel some flexibility , this particular steel was actually weakened in cold temperatures.

      • intrcptr2

        Titanic was sending the first ever SOS over the Marconi. California turned her set off because it was so late at night. Why she failed to respond to the distress flares is still beyond me, though.

        And the steel was high-quality Scotch steel, which meant it was high nickel, what we otherwise call stainless; such steel goes rather brittle at lower temperatures, so yes, the hull plates cracked rather than buckling or flexing.

        Perfect storm, in a manner of speaking; yes.

  • Schlomotion

    I am continually surprised how often "The Right" resorts to Marxist Literary Criticism when they don't like a movie or the moviegoers and need a soapbox to criticize "leftists." The lady doth protest too much.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      I'm surprised how the useless left has people that trot out insults.
      I'm not surprised that you still aren' t making a lot of sense.

    • intrcptr2

      I detested the movie when it got released, and it had nothing to do with anachronisitic Marxist analysis (or rather a faux classicism inserted into the tale); I simply think such a movie should get its story right. See how many today think it was ONLY a movie… how perverse can society get?

  • H&R_ Barack

    ~ Is it because the LEFT are "FIRST CLASS A-HOLES" ???……..

    Musing: Just Imagine if Michelle-Antoinette and President Obama were on the TITANIC.

    ………. an expensive First Family Vacation our tax dollar-confiscation would endorse.

    • Amused

      juvenile remarks , from a juvenile ….hurry on to class 6th grade is about to begin shortly .

      • H&R_ Barack

        Replying to Amused:

        Sir. You always think you hear fleas cough.

        ~ Faulty logic always undermines your philosophy.

  • Jeamar

    The more interesting question is why so many people, left or right, are so interested in this. I didn't see the movie because the previews looked about as interesting as reading a "Harlequin" romance–not that there is anything wrong with that. There are all sorts of tragic accidents, wars, and natural disasters every day and the energy into making the Titanic into a pop culture icon is rather puzzling to me.

    • intrcptr2

      Did you see the Making of Titanic movie?

      Some of the things Cameron did behind the scenes…

    • D S Dunlap

      What has made the Titanic tragedy *and the ship itself* into a "pop culture icon," in fact, wasn't the movie. It was the fact that, when it occurred, so many inventions and so much scientific discovery had come to pass that people then thought that a ship could be built that was unsinkable. Consider all the things that had come during the previous decade: powered flight (Orville and Wilbur Wright at Kill Devil Hill, Kitty Hawk, NC, 1903); the birth and growth of the automobile industry; expedition to the North Pole (Robert Peary, Matthew Henson, et al., 1909)*; Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity (1905- Later refined into the general Theory of Relativity in 1916); wireless radio (Marconi(?), 1901); and others made it seem as if Man could conquer nature itself.

      Thus, when the "unsinkable" Titanic went down, it not only represented a lost ship, but the end of an era of unbounded optimism. THAT is why it fascinates people even now.

  • Sage on the Stage

    There is a 1979 made-for-TV movie, SOS Titanic. David Janssen played John Jacob Astor; and in one of
    the last scenes before the ship founders, viewers get a last glimpse of him, standing on deck. Ida Strauss wouldn't leave her husband's side, and Nathan Strauss refused to enter a lifeboat. They went back to their cabin, and drowned when the ship went down. But there were a few instances of steerage passengers being denied access to the upper part of the ship. As with most large scale disasters, there are examples of heroism and selflessness, and craven cowardice. And it cuts across social classes. The truth is usually in the middle somewhere. Could the Californian have rescued any of the Titanic's passengers?

    • D S Dunlap

      Cool, except that "Nathan" Strauss was actually known as Isidor Strauss.

  • Sage on the Stage

    To be fair to Captain Lord(a supremely ironic name), the sea was full of small icebergs("growlers") that night.
    Eva Hart, the last Titanic survivor, said the Californian was nine miles away; so close that she could see people on its deck; and the area in Titanic's immediate vicinity-perhaps two miles-was free of ice. Lord was an experienced seaman; and if he had turned his engines on, and steamed towards Titanic, he might well have rescued some unfortunates floating in the freezing water. But he didn't try; and thats the problem most people have with him. Very good article.

    • Amused

      At the time , The Californian thought the rockets to be of a festive nature . a terrible mistake , but also in those times Radio Operators were not required to keep the keys open . After that S.O.S.and /or Mayday alarms were required on most ships .The human eror here is , that the Captain of the Titanic should NOT have been running at full sea speed , in light of any known icebergs in the vicinity . That is simply a matter of good seamanship .

  • Sage on the Stage

    Nevertheless, it was irresponsible in the extreme, to sail a big ship at 22 knots(26 mph), through an ice-field, on such a very dark night.(There was no moon that night) So even though lookouts didn't customarily use binochulars in 1912, there was no excuse for not issuing them; especially since Frederick Fleet requested them. Had Fleet seen the iceberg just a few hundred feet sooner, Titanic would have avoided the ice entirely.

    • D S Dunlap

      Or, had they hit head-on while trying to slow it down, the ship might have held up long enough to evacuate everyone to other ships while they attempted to get the Titanic into a port (the closest port of a size to even attempt to put such a ship in would have been Boston, and that would have been a stretch; a port only if the ship couldn't have made New York)

      • Amused

        They should have proceeded with the speed of SLOW AHEAD , Standard proceedure for fog or iceberg fields , there's no way the Titanic should have been operating at Full Sea Speed . No way . The Captain suffered a lapse of common sense or was goaded by the White Star exec to maintain that speed for the sake of a speed record , which was the contention of the day between all trans-Atlantic liners .

    • mlcblog

      Not so much, I think. It is so easy to judge from the vantage point of what we know now and our common disaster precautions in place now. Those were the days of wild and crazy explorations, so sailing into a dark sea in a supposedly safe ship would be exhilarating and normal for them.

  • Amused

    Anyone who looks at this tradgedy , the like or dislike of it , and then attaches a "left ' or "right spin " as this "alleged journalist " in this ludicrous article attemopts ….ius a COMPLETE AND TOTAL ASSSSHOLE .
    So folks …if the shoe fits …then wear it .

  • Hanna

    I reearched into this, it does not add up as too strange. Warning messages that did not all reach the bridge,
    other ships in the area were not affected, life-boats that went out half full : http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/titanic.ht
    How did the ship sink, intact or broke apart: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/1203

    Indeed not all 1st class passengers were rescued,a lot were, so were a lot of 3rd class women. I think only the facts are interesting as far as they have ever been established.
    Some think all sorts of conspiracies, that in fact i.e. Guggenheim and Astor and other wealthy high profile men had to die to ensure they did not prevent the Federal reserve bank being established which it was a year later.

    Once you really research you find some strange stuff, lots out there from witnesses, and everyone knows the sinking remains a mystery.
    Who really knows the truth ?

    • Amused

      There is no conspiracy , no mystery , human error coupled with simply physics ,and in fact VERIFIED when the Titanic was located and photographed in depth . The biggest "mysteries " that I find are …WHY DIDN'T THE CAPTAIN SLOW DOWN , CHANGE HEADING SOUTHWARD , WHY THE LOOKOUTS WERE NOT OUTFITTED WITH BINOCULARS .

      • Hanna

        Well you contradict yourself, don't you, as your questions are a "Mystery" are they not ? First you state there are no mysteries then you say there are "mysteries" .
        Indeed why did he not slow down ( the Captain was not even on the bridge at this time according to 2nd in command Lightoller, (who survived) in fact Smith was not even seen for 2 hours before ship went down) Other ships did and sent warnings.
        Lightoller is the granfather of Lady Patten who wrote a book that he told her grandmother "confidently" at the end of his life that they were ordered to speed by the representative of the shipping line on board.(Ismay, who also survived)
        He "confided" he lied at the inquest and did not divulge this explosive info. to "protect" the shipping line.(!)
        At the inquest however it was denied by surviving crew that the captain or anyone in command would ever take orders from any layman on board.
        That sort of thing.
        Human error or not, we will never know.

        • Amused

          Dear Hann , please learn how to detect sarcasm and rhetorical remarks .BTW , it was not at all UNCOMMON for a company representative to be on a maiden voyage or flagship of such a passenger liner . And YES TransAtlantic speed records wetre a point of contentionAND competition in those days , ansd althgough no one will ever really know , the captain may very well have been ordered to proceed Full Ahead .
          Human ERROR , specifically poor seamanship in decision makling , werre most definitely the blame for the wreck of the Titanic …and nothing else . And the subsequent loss of life due to tragic error .
          Confusion and panic caused many casualties as the Titanic held an even keel some two hours after the collision , making the launching AND properly filling life boats to their capacities not too difficult a task for seaman to execute .The "mystery " I mentioned of course was a sarcsm in that the captain , one of the most experienced and renowned in the British Maritime Industry , woulkd not slow the ship as soon as the first iceberg was sighted , no matter how small .

          • Amused

            And we see these great disasters repeating themselves , as with the worst airline disaster in history which took place in the Canary Islands , where the KLM Captain , a Dutchman , the most expereienced and revered in all the fleet , got impatient on the runway and took off disregarding the tower and plowed into another fully loaded jet liner , causing a horrendous loss of life .

          • Hanna

            Very true ( I am Dutch) but so ? Accidents/human error sadly occur often. The issues surrounding Titanic are just more complex and even if you don't believe so, makes no difference to many others, as there have been also scores of i.e.British documentaries/books throughout the years about this subject and its contradictory stories.
            As I said I researched into it as I found it interesting.

            Oh and very sorry I missed your sarcasm ! Silly me , you are so right to preach at me for not detecting your way of communication .

  • D S Dunlap

    I'm glad the article pointed out something I've known for a number of years: The number of lifeboats on the Titanic were in accord with British maritime law in regards to the number of lifeboats a ship of a certain size was required to have.

    • Hanna

      Not only that they even exceeded the requirements, but many were launched half full , according to various witnesses and sources.
      What would anyone have to gain lying about this. ? Would just add more to the never-ending mysteries surrounding the Titanic if they did of course.

    • mlcblog

      I learned as a child (long ago it seems) that this is the disaster which taught us (here in the civilized world) about needing more lifeboats. Still, too bad the Californian could not have come to help.

  • Ghostwriter

    I've read some of Amused's comments and he or she makes some good points. There was no grand conspiracy,just a series of mistakes that could have been avoided if they were addressed properly. The people who died on the "Titanic" didn't have to and it could have been avoided if the ship had slowed down or the lookouts had binoculars.

  • Amused

    " Why the left loves the Titanic Disaster " …..how utterly ignorant and tasteless a title .It turns my stomach , being an ex-merchant seaman , with over 50 North Atlantic crossings under my belt , to attempt to attach any political spin to such a disaster is just crude and mindless .