This week marks the 91st anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. In the wee hours of April 15, 1912, the great ship slipped into the deep waters of the North Atlantic, sending 1,503 passengers and crewmen to a watery grave.I won’t spend a great deal of time picking apart Knight’s sexist, anti-individualist philosophy, but here’s one obvious flaw in his argument: What about women who are unmarried and without children? Is it moral to send them into a combat zone, or must they too be shackled by Knight’s arbitrary morals? Knight’s argument comes very close to saying women belong barefoot and pregnant, and no other condition is socially acceptable.
The vast majority of the dead were men, many of whom stood bravely as they watched lifeboats full of women and children row away from the doomed ship.
During a U.S. Senate inquiry, First Officer Charles H. Lightoller was asked, “You discriminated entirely in the interest of the passengers – first women and children – in filling those lifeboats?” Lightoller replied: “Yes, sir,” to which the senator pressed, “Why did you do that? Because of the captain’s orders, or because of the rule of the sea?”
Lightoller answered simply, “The rule of human nature.”
Another witness, Canadian Army Major Arthur Godfrey Peuchen, described the action at one of the lifeboats: “Only women were allowed in, and the second officer stood there and carried it out to the limit. He allowed no men, except sailors who were manning the boat. I did not see one single male passenger get in or attempt to get in. I never saw such perfect order. The discipline was perfect. I did not see a cowardly act by any man.”
Watching America send some of its daughters to their deaths or capture in Iraq makes one aware of how far we have drifted from the ideal epitomized by the brave men of the Titanic: Women and children first.
More women are facing actual combat because the Pentagon weakened the “risk rule,” which barred the placement of women in areas likely to come under fire. Ever adaptive, the Navy introduced a program a few years ago in which men were conditioned to endure the tortured cries of women captives. Do we really want thousands of men to be indifferent to women’s screams? That’s a recipe for domestic violence and rape.
Not all men have abandoned their role to protect. As Pfc. Jessica Lynch lay wounded, a team of men who would have been right at home on Titanic’s deck boarded choppers. They gambled their lives because an Iraqi man reported that an American woman was being tortured at an Iraqi hospital. Later, our troops freed Army Spc. Shoshana Johnson and other P.O.W.s The mother of a 2-year-old, whose haunted photo reminded us of the cost of putting a woman in the hands of enemy male soldiers, Miss Johnson was rescued and is winging home with a bullet hole in each ankle.
Sending women anywhere near combat is wrong. It is bad enough for children to lose their father, but it is utterly unnecessary for them to lose their mother.
Unlike the sanity and honor that prevailed in 1912, we are not supposed to care that wives, daughters and sisters are killed, maimed or at the mercy of enemy troops.
Women have served honorably in the U.S. military through many wars. Their sacrifices and hard work have contributed mightily. But it is barbarism, not progress, to put women deliberately in harm’s way.
What would the men of the Titanic have thought, watching women kiss their toddlers goodbye, slap on a helmet and ship off to the front? They would say we have not only lost our minds but a good deal of our hearts.
Knight’s Family & Culture Instititue is an affiliate of Concerned Women for America, a group which, not surprisingly, is vehemently defending Rick Santorum.