In both the Nikolas Cruz (Parkland) and Travis Reinking (Waffle House) shootings, the ready explanation is that the authorities “dropped the ball.” Well James Shaw, the man who stopped Reinking, picked up the ball and pushed back hard.
Mr. Shaw ran toward shooter Travis Reinking out of an instinct for self-protection. “I acted in a blink of a second,” he says. “It was like: ‘Do it now. Go now.’ I just took off.”
As Daniel Henninger writes in the WSJ, “Mr. Shaw is not only a hero, but an object lesson in what America once took for granted but no longer does.”
Over a long time, going back decades, the opposite instinct became the norm in the United States when confronted with threats.
The threats could be large, like school shootings and terrorism, or they could be small, daily assaults on the most basic civilized orderings of everyday life. Such as 14-year-old girls using four-letter words.
We used to push back instinctively. Then, we routinely began to step aside.
The new instinct—don’t do it—happened for all sorts of reasons: You’ll get in trouble with the lawyers. Somebody else is supposed to take care of these things. There must be a better way to understand this problem. Eventually, the simple answer of a James Shaw—“Do it now!”—just died.
Pushback is a social virtue. Its utility is a society’s self-preservation. Pushback from people in positions of authority—school principals, university presidents, the cops, parents—has always been the ballast against disorder in a free society.
As Mr. Henninger warns, it’s time for those in charge of our institutions to pick up the ball and push back hard.
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