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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