Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 7 Comments
The Cult of the Victim and the Tribute of a Hero
At the Munich Olympics, when the Palestinian terrorists broke into the rooms of the Israeli athletes, Yosef Gutfreund threw his weight against the door giving others a chance to escape through the windows. That legacy was alive when Virginia Tech Professor Liviu Librescu blocked the door with his own body so that his students could escape through the windows. The 76 year old man held the gunman back long enough to allow all but two of his students to reach safety. And then he died on the same classroom floor his feet had paced energetically for so many years.
One escaping student, in a letter sent to Professor Librescu's wife, writes of looking back at the professor through the other side of the window from the ledge. "I saw your husband still standing there. He was holding the door closed and looking over his shoulder to make sure everybody else was safe. It was the bravest thing I have ever seen and I will always remember his courage."
In this YouTube generation, Librescu's story of heroism has been overshadowed by the story of Jamal Albarghouti, related to arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti, who filmed some footage of the attack and sold it to CNN. Stories written about Albarghouti repeatedly describe him as a "Palestinian from the West Bank", characterizing his actions as "intrepid", "daring" and "bold". As if such words can be used about a man whose uselessly filmed an ongoing attack and then profited from it.
It's hard to find a greater contrast between a man who risked his life to save others and another man who stood around taking video footage of it and then sold it to CNN for an undisclosed and undoubtedly sizable sum of money. It is more than a contrast between cultures or generations. It is the contrast between running into a burning building and slowing down to watch the aftermath of a car crash.
Shortly after 9/11 articles began to appear in the media complaining about the "Cult of the Hero" they felt had evolved after the attacks, which worshiped soldiers, rescue workers and police officers. Virtue, they felt, had been reduced to a matter of brawn. But of course they had it wrong. It doesn't take brawn to be a hero. Europe is filled with muscular men who do not lift a finger against the Muslim violence brewing in their cities. Against torched cars, rape gangs and Mosques preaching Jihad.
Librescu was no titan or atlas. He was an elderly man who gave his life to save others, not because of his physical strength, but his moral strength. Because he saw the willingness of a man to sacrifice himself for others, as the most natural and responsible act a man can do. His actions serve as a rebuke to a political and media culture that preaches passivity at home and abroad. Which celebrates "citizen journalists" like Albarghouti who stand around videotaping a tragedy, but smears the American soldier in Iraq facing bullets and bombs and the Israeli soldier trying to keep the next suicide bomber from boarding the Number 19 bus.
The rejection of heroism is the rejection of the idea that people can be anything other than victims. The media prefers the complacent viewer who watches but does not act, videotapes but does not intervene. It is unsurprising that television stations which view getting footage of an attack as more important than actually stopping the attack, prioritize Jamal Albarghouti over Liviu Librescu.
Liberalism too prefers the victim to the hero. Rather than strengthening people, it prefers to weaken them. As the media prefers tears to strong arms and figures slumped in misery to men and women raising their heads high, its ideological wellspring of liberalism has replaced "The Cult of the Hero" with the "Cult of the Victim."
It is ironic but not surprising then that under some of the British boycotts proposed against Israeli universities and even Israeli academics and faculty, Liviu Librescu would have been barred in favor of a Jamal Albarghouti. The Palestinian sympathizer is after all the chief worshiper at the bloody altar of "The Cult of the Victim" endlessly magnified. In the amoral transmogrification required to justify Palestinian terrorism, morality and responsibility are eliminated by arguing that feelings of helplessness and hopelessness topple all human obligations and human norms. Once rendered helpless, the "victim" is set free to behave in a completely amoral manner. The "Cult of the Victim" then becomes the cult of the terrorist and the criminal, treating them as nothing more than helpless pinballs in a political and economic system that has left them incapable of doing anything other than committing the atrocities they perpetrate.
The continuing heroism of American and Israeli soldiers and civilians in the face of a constant onslaught of terrorism only further enrages the followers of “The Cult of the Victim" who view apathy or cowardly brutality as the only proper responses to a crisis. Failing to be proper victims, Israelis and Americans after 9/11 are accused of having become just like the Nazis. These are the only two possible categories that exist in the mindset of liberalism. You are either a victim or a Nazi. Liviu Librescu had been a victim of the Nazis, but his actions repudiated these categories. He chose to be a hero.
Romania has conferred the "National Order of the Star of Romania" posthumously on Liviu Librescu. His body will be transported to Israel for burial. A hero returning home.