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(327) Pato joyuyo

Cowards: in the recent French riots, a mayor had a car rammed into his private home and set alight, his wife and children were asleep inside (he was away at work). The mayor said that the people who did this were cowards—that this was an act of cowardice. I’ve heard this many times before—the 9/11 terrorists were cowards, anon Twitter users are cowards, rioters are cowards. “Come here and say that to my face!”.

It always seemed out of joint to me, it just didn’t fit—it was incongruent. When people say it I always picture Bugs Bunny with two big brown boxing gloves on and some red striped silk shorts circling the ring and saying, “Naw, shucks—put ’em up, you coward!”. He always looks comic, with his long thin rabbit-arms—perhaps he still chews a carrot as he speaks. Today, it finally hit me why these people sound like Bugs Bunny: it’s projection—when the mayor says “these people are cowards” he refers to his own cowardice. He didn’t say, “These people will be brought to justice, order will be restored—I take personal responsibility for the safety of everyone in this district; how can I not, I am as affected as you?”. He didn’t. What we got instead was shame.

Who else speaks like this? Greta Thunberg. “How dare you!” goes very nicely with “Cowards!” and, perhaps, “Bullies!”. Yet the 9/11 hijackers were not cowards, as was said at the time—you have to be brave to do that. When people say “oh, they’re just cowards” it’s like some mother at the school gates saying “oh, they’re just big bullies”. When you say it, you’ll do nothing. It’s impotent, it’s the idea you can get compliance through shame and persuasion—without sanction. To tackle the cause of the riots—immigration—would require, well, courage (moral courage, for the most part). The mayor doesn’t have it—yet the ancients held that courage is the foundation for all the virtues.


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