Wonderful column from Peggy Noonan:
There’s a small but telling scene in Ridley Scott’s “Black Hawk Down” that contains some dialogue that reverberates, at least for me. In the spirit of Samuel Johnson, who said man needs more often to be reminded than instructed, I offer it to all, including myself, who might benefit from its message.
The movie, as you know, is about the Battle of the Bakara Market in Mogadishu, Somalia, in October 1993. In the scene, the actor Tom Sizemore, playing your basic tough-guy U.S. Army Ranger colonel, is in charge of a small convoy of humvees trying to make its way back to base under heavy gun and rocket fire. The colonel stops the convoy, takes in some wounded, tears a dead driver out of a driver’s seat, and barks at a bleeding sergeant who’s standing in shock nearby:
Colonel: Get into that truck and drive.
Sergeant: But I’m shot, Colonel.
Colonel: Everybody’s shot, get in and drive.
“Everybody’s shot.” Those are great metaphoric words.
Let me tell you how they seem to apply metaphorically. An hour before I saw the movie, I was with friends at lunch, and they filled me in on the latest doings in our beloved country while I was away. Cornel West is very, very angry at Larry Summers for suggesting that Prof. West shouldn’t essentially perp-walk his way through the halls of academe. A Secret Service agent—a presidential Secret Service agent!—had a hissy fit when an airline pilot refused to let him board a plane carrying his gun with dubious paperwork. The agent is not only threatening a lawsuit, he says he doesn’t want money when he wins. He wants the airline to be forced to give sensitivity training. I thought: I think someone needs sensitivity training all right, but I don’t think it’s the airline.
Just after the movie, I picked up Ellis Cose’s latest book, “The Envy of the World,” about the “daunting challenges” that face black men in 21st-century America. I read and thought, Earth to Ellis: Everyone faces daunting challenges in 21st-century America.
Because everybody’s been shot.
What does that mean? It means something we used to know. It means everyone has it hard, everyone takes hits, everyone’s been fragged, everyone gets tagged, life isn’t easy for anyone…..