A Failure of Doctrine, Not of People

I’ve said frequently that 9/11 was not a failure of our security systems, or of the passengers and crew who were hijacked, but rather was a failure of doctrine. “Doctrine” is defined as “code of beliefs, or “a body of teachings” or “instructions”, taught principles or positions“. On 9/10/01 we had a standard doctrine about response to aircraft hijackings which included directives to the passengers and crew to be compliant, not confront the hijackers, minimize exposure to violence, and get the plane onto the ground where negotiations or intervention by highly-trained persons would resolve the issue.

Similarly, the Columbine murders did not represent a failure by local law-enforcement to act; it was a failure of the doctrine they had been trained to act within. because most hostage situations within buildings are resolved with minimal force and patience, the doctrine was to cordon, wait, and talk.

Both doctrines have changed. I do not believe that any passenger airplane will be hijacked again anytime soon except by multiple hijackers with guns – and possibly not even then. Police departments have now trained their officers to “go to the active shooter” and aggressively move to attack – as it appears the police did in responding to the VPI shooter.

Similarly, the discussions around the responses of the students in the comments to the post below seem to imply that those of us who are suggesting that the students could have done other things which may have changed the outcome are, in essence, blaming the victims. No, we’re not. We’re blaming the doctrine the victims were trained to operate under, and arguing that we – all of us – should rethink it and start implementing other ones, just as airline passengers and police officers have.

This doctrine isn’t only applicable to the thankfully rare cases where a deranged person walks into a school or office and starts shooting. It is applicable to all the not-so-little crises we are liable to face.

As commenters have noted this isn’t the time to dig deeply into this, both out of respect for the dead and their survivors and because we don’t yet know enough unambiguous fact to make conclusive judgments. I’ll come back to this issue soon, obviously, but don’t think that today is the time.

On Rehearsal

“Mental rehearsal can be a valuable tool in preparing you for a life threatening encounter. Mental rehearsal has been around and practiced since the early 1940’s, however, studies linked to mental process and physical skills can be traced back to 1892.” (Duran & Nasci, 2000, p. 29).
Mental rehearsal is the process of mentally visualizing and rehearsing how something should be done prior to actually doing it. What this rehearsal does for the body is it connects thought processes with physical activity. Most of us are equipped with the physical tools, (ex. defensive tactics, shooting skills, etc) to get the job done but, if we cannot connect them to a mental rehearsal under stress, a life and death decision process may occur to slow, with hesitancy and with errors. The concept of mental rehearsal is to experience the situation before it actually occurs. By creating “real life” scenarios to different situations, you can walk yourself through the decision making process. The scenario can be played over and over adding or changing the situation causing changes in decision making processes. Mental rehearsal should be done with things you’ve never encountered or thought of before. Scenarios should incorporate situations that cannot be included in training sessions due to safety issues or practicality. Make the scenarios as true to life as possible!

Probably the most important issue in mental rehearsal is to “always visualize yourself winning or never being killed.” Part of this rehearsal is training yourself to never give up even in the event you do get shot, stabbed or hurt. By anticipating stressful situations you can prepare for them.

Survival Stress in Law Enforcement (pdf), Steve Drzewiecki

On Fighting Back

It’s been interesting to watch the members of the commentariat play their designated roles in the aftermath of Virginia Tech. I wish they wouldn’t just yet. We don’t know enough, and anyone who has genuine feelings about it is still too raw to think clearly much less talk intelligently.

But the news cycle demands its sacrifices, and our good sense is probably the first one.

I don’t typically read Michelle Malkin – I pretty much know what she will say on an issue, and while I respect her intelligence and ferocity, she skates a little close to Ann Coulter sometimes. So I caught this via a post on Outside The Beltway.

Wanted: A Culture of Self-Defense

Enough is enough, indeed. Enough of intellectual disarmament. Enough of physical disarmament. You want a safer campus? It begins with renewing a culture of self-defense — mind, spirit and body. It begins with two words: Fight back.

Steven Taylor, at OTB (and PoliBlog) writes:

More Asininity (This Time from Malkin)

What in the world is going on? First we have Derbyshire and Blake and now this. First, why do we have to find blame in places other than the fact that a truly disturbed individual simply did an unthinkable act and cracked. There is only so much that can be done in a free society to prevent such situations. This attempt to blame a general “liberal” attitude at universities and that this somehow has led to a culture of “conflict avoidance” that somehow, by inference, led to people not defending themselves on Monday – that is utterly ridiculous.

There’s a lot to unpack here.

Michelle is strongly advocating more people carrying weapons. James is strongly opposed to it.

That’s a topic I’ll talk about more later on, not today.

Michelle is very specific in her blame of campus culture – specifically progressive campus culture – for the apparent passivity of the students, and blames the passivity of the students – in some part – for the scope of what the evil madman was able to accomplish.

I’ve also talked about the roots of the modern terrorist movement as being closely aligned with mainstream academic thinking, and will have more to say about that later, as well.

But I want to talk about one simple thing tonight. I’ll evoke the immortal words of noted right-winger Michael Moore, who gave a lecture in Cincinnati in 2003:

Near the end of his lecture, Moore invoked the memory of Sept. 11, 2001, transporting his audience to the seats of a hijacked airplane.

“Two or three men holding box cutters paralyze 100 people,” he said. “How can this happen?”

There’s fear, certainly, from seeing some of the first class passengers’ throats sliced open. The smell of death, the blood, the rasping breath of misery. But something else had to be in play. Maybe the forbearance that comes from living comfortable lives. Surely someone would take care of this, as surely as policemen always rushed to aid them in times of need.

“Could the 100 passengers have stopped the men with box cutters?” Moore asked. “Sure, of course. Three guys with blades against a hundred unarmed fighters? The hundred win every time. Maybe not easy, maybe a few die, but the hundred win. We know it because those brave fighters on the Pennsylvania flight got up from their seats. And they beat the hijackers!”

Then Moore asked the audience to replace those passengers with 100 people from the Bronx or Over-the-Rhine or any not-so-comfortable community — the kind of neighborhood where calling 911 won’t necessarily bring the police running to help you.

“And maybe when the police do show up — if the police show up — they take you away instead,” he said.

Now, Moore asked, do you think 100 people from the Bronx would sit there?

“They would fight back,” he said. “They would rise up out of their seats and fight.”

He’s right. The good folks don’t fight. They don’t because, to be honest, they never have in their lives – if you’re my age or younger, fighting in elementary school isn’t normal, it’s the end of your school career. It amazes me how few of my peers have ever had a real altercation.

Obviously, by virtue of my willingness to own and use arms – and martial arts of other kinds – I made the decision a long time ago that I would fight. I’ve argued in the past that fighting bad people is an obligation society places on good people as a way of raising the cost of being bad.

And the reality is that in extremis, people freeze, flee, or fight. Two of those reactions are useful. I’ll quote my law enforcement officer friend:

By design, Universities are filled with idealists wishing to take the higher road of understanding and compassion when it comes to dealing with the dangers people often pose toward their own species.

Most importantly, if you find yourself in an active shooter situation and you can access real shelter or cover, waste no time running full speed in that direction. If you are trapped, in a room with an assailant who is picking off victims as he/she finds them, FIGHT.

No, I do not blame the victims in Virginia. The only person to blame is an insanely evil young man who isn’t here to receive his just punishment.

But I have advice for those who would prefer not to be victims. And it lies in the simple fact that the State cannot, and will not guarantee your safety. You are the ultimate guarantor of your safety. You should act that way.

So here, I’ll side with Michelle, and my cop friend, and Michael Moore (who would have thought it?) and tell Taylor that to call Malkin’s views asinine is – well – I’m too polite to say asinine, so I’ll just say foolish and wrong.

Update: fixed dumb conflation of names.

Update 2: Anne-Marie Cox takes a swing at the issue too; she’s indignant that John Derbyshire would suggest that someone might try and do something in the face of an active shooter:

If I had to choose a favorite insane statement here — like, say, if someone was holding a gun to my head — I think it’d be the idea that, “At the very least, count the shots and jump him reloading or changing hands. Better yet, just jump him.” Or, best yet: you could always try the ol’, “Shoe’s untied!” bit. Works with my theoretical mass shooting murderers all the time.

Um, Anne-Marie, it’s like this. One of the ways that you train for things that haven’t ever happened to you – and I’m so tempted to put in an assf**king reference here – is to imagine them, and pattern a response. real grown up people – like pilots, musicians, and yes, people who fight for a living – do exactly that.

Along with real training, it has a nice benefit, to which I can testify – which is that you’ll respond better if you’ve got a pre-made plan (and better still if you practice it) than if you don’t.

I’ll bet that no one today gets on an airliner without thinking a little bit about how they’d react to a hijacker. Which is one reason there won’t be any more hijackings without serious weaponry.

So thanks for playing, Anne-Marie, and please go back and comment on things you actually know something about, like what midlevel Washington wannabe politicians do for relaxation.

A University Police Officer Talks About Virgina Tech – 1) What To Tell Your Kids

This morning, I talked to Littlest Guy (my 10 year old) about the shootings at Virginia Tech. He’d seen the paper, and knew the basic facts.

I explained first that while it got a lot of attention, it wasn’t something I worried about a lot, and that he was more at risk from bees than he is from mad killers like this. I told him that nonetheless it was a good idea for him to imagine what he’d do if something like this happened, so that he could know that he isn’t ever helpless.

Later, I talked to a friend who is a University police officer about it, and got this response (the author is a law enforcement officer at a major urban university who will have more to say about the response at VPI tomorrow):

What do you tell your college bound child about crime, danger and self-preservation?

Recognize that a University is just a city within a city, filled with people. Some are good, some are bad, some are there to take advantage of the environment for profit and others, to prey upon a particularly vulnerable population.

By vulnerable, I include students, staff and faculty, all of whom tend to believe the hype about the University Community being somehow insulated from the crime that exists outside the borders. By design, Universities are filled with idealists wishing to take the higher road of understanding and compassion when it comes to dealing with the dangers people often pose toward their own species.

Tell your son or daughter that in order to decrease the risks hidden behind the school’s marketing facade, they must listen to their instincts when confronted with danger, rather than letting their intellect and ideals overcome them. A student needs to be willing to see danger when it presents itself. They need to understand that bad things happen to good people every day, even in places that are supposed to be safe. That all of nature survives and thrives upon decisions of fight or flight, but fails or dies if they succumb to the immobility of fear.

Unfortunately, we live in a would-be virtual world, where we protect our children from fear and leave them to practice their survival skills in games that allow them to respawn when they make the wrong choice. This leaves them believing that they cannot come to harm and although I don’t think walking around riddled with anxiety over every potential encounter is healthy; skepticism, caution and adaptability to swiftly changing circumstances are excellent tools for long term survival.

To be more specific, if something doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t and you should report your concerns to the authorities. If someone seems irrational, delusional or just plain weird, let someone know. If someone seems to believe you have a romantic relationship and you don’t – be alert and report stalking or obsessive behavior as soon as you encounter it. Sometimes, if these situations are caught early, the subject can be helped with medical intervention. Do not put embarrassment above safety.

Most importantly, if you find yourself in an active shooter situation and you can access real shelter or cover, waste no time running full speed in that direction. If you are trapped, in a room with an assailant who is picking off victims as he/she finds them, FIGHT. Throw things, big things if you can grab them. Use that as a distraction to assault the shooter. Go down fighting if you must, but do not let yourself be immobilized by fear. Unless you can hide among the bodies and successfully play dead (a risky tactic if the assailant decides on a ‘coup de grace’ shot), you may as well go down fighting. If you cower in a corner or under a desk, as soon as he sees you he will kill you. Take the initiative away. You have nothing to lose in this situation. Remember the lesson of 9/11, submission to an adversary bent on killing plays into his expectations and will likely result in your death.

Update: changed formatting to distinguish the author’s words from mine.

Virginia Tech

My oldest son goes to college at the University of Virginia (Glenn appears to have misread this, my apologies for using the abbreviation earlier), and so I’ve gotten a slug of phone calls from colleagues and friends who knew he was in Virginia telling me about the mass murder at Virginia Tech today.

This isn’t the time for dispassionate – or even passionate – policy discussion, although that will surely follow.

It’s time to think about the other parents – parents like me – whose daughters and sons go to school at VPI (instead of UVA where my son goes) and are waiting for news or are getting the worst news imaginable.

VictoryPAC update

Here’s this week’s video. Please share it with some friends once you’ve watched it:

We’re very slightly under $14,000 today, with very little publicity after the initial 3 or 4 blog posts.

Here’s what’s going on:

1) I’m working to get the legal and accounting set up for the PAC, so that we’ll be legal and I can contact each of the pledged donors to fulfill their pledge.
2) I’m reaching out to a number of people to put together a 5-person Board of Directors so this isn’t just me doing things and/or making decisions.
3) I’m designing a site that will allow you to register, pledge, donate, post your thoughts, and contact others to help us raise money and awareness.

My guess is that all of this will happen between 4/21 and 5/10, with a goal of being fully operational by 5/15.

Feel free to go to the VictoryPAC site and add your pledge.

Researching the Johns Hopkins ‘Center for Talented Youth’

Littlest Guy (finishing 5th grade) just took their test and did very well. We’re debating putting him into one of the summer or distance learning programs, and I’d love to find someone who’s had a child go through one (or a child who went through one themselves) who’d be willing to comment on it.

Leave a comment or drop a me a note.

And no, he doesn’t look like the milkman.

Honesty In Media Matters – Doesn’t It??

Media Matters has a post up today explaining that

Internet gossip Matt Drudge has claimed that Media Matters for America is a “Soros operation.”

In fact, Media Matters has never received funding from progressive philanthropist George Soros.

Looking at the non-authoritative but informative Sourcewatch entry on Media Matters we get:

Funded with “more than $2 million in donations from wealthy liberals.” “Among Mr. Brock’s donors is Leo Hindery, Jr., the former cable magnate; Susie Tompkins Buell, who is co-founder of the fashion company Esprit and is close to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, and Ms. Buell’s husband Mark; and James C. Hormel, a San Francisco philanthropist whose appointment as ambassador to Luxembourg was delayed for a year and a half in the late 1990’s by conservative lawmakers protesting what they called his promotion of a ‘gay lifestyle.’ [5]

Media Matters for America is funded in part by the Democracy Alliance.

And following the Sourcewatch link to ‘Democracy Alliance’ we get:

“Members of the Democracy Alliance include billionaires like George Soros and his son Jonathan Soros, former Rockefeller Family Fund president Anne Bartley, San Francisco Bay Area donors Susie Tompkins Buell and Mark Buell, Hollywood director Rob Reiner, Taco Bell heir Rob McKay … as well as New York financiers like Steven Gluckstern.” [3]

Conservative site ‘Discover the Networks‘ says:

Media Matters has not always been forthcoming about its high-profile backers. In particular, the group has long labored to obscure any financial ties to George Soros. But in March 2003, the Cybercast News Service (CNS) detailed the copious links between Media Matters and several Soros “affiliates” – among them MoveOn.org, the Center for American Progress, and Peter Lewis. Confronted with this story, a spokesman for the organization explained that “Media Matters for America has never received funding directly from George Soros” (emphasis added), a transparent evasion.

Here’s why this matters – if the issue is to replace one group of powerhungry liars with another, it’s really hard for me to motivate any energy to become involved. And I assume that I’m not alone.

Transparency and honesty matter, or they don’t. You can’t bust GWB for failing to be completely transparent and then cloak yourself in bullshit without the room starting to stink.

Honesty is more important to me than social justice because I don’t believe that people who are profoundly dishonest are capable of advancing the cause of social justice.