Sheep No More

James S. Robbins at NRO on one of the main and largely unacknowledged reasons why three of the four September 11 hijackings were successful, at least from the point of view of the barbarians:

The al Qaeda attack plan exploited our preconceptions, particularly our knowledge of what a hijacking was. Before 9/11, hijacking was largely a form of theater… The way for innocents to get out of the situation alive was to relax, let the scene play out, and hope that if there is a rescue attempt, that none of the bad guys has a bomb. In short, cooperate, don’t escalate. Don’t be a hero.

This is why box cutters could be used successfully to hijack airliners…

Would the box-cutter scenario work today? Of course not. We are no longer told to be quiescent and leave everything to the experts…

[B]y the time United Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania the paradigm shift had been made. The admonition “Don’t be a hero” was replaced with “Let’s roll.” I suspect this change is permanent. No Americans will ever be led to slaughter that way again. The terrorists exploited a seam that they could only use once.

Yes, exactly. As Robbins also notes, the vaunted 9/11 commission has not even mentioned the forty years of conditioning to act like sheep when confronted by hijackers–which played as much into al Quaeda’s hands as any intelligence or security missteps.

Regardless, there are no more sheep on American airliners. Additional security or no additional security, there will never be another successful takeover of an airliner with American passengers onboard.

UPDATE: A reader points out this staff statement from the commission that does note the hijackers’ expoitation of the prior “Common Strategy” for handling aircraft takeovers. That’s fair enough, and I suppose it’s also fair to note that very few people had actually suggested the possibility of airliners being used as guided missiles prior to September of 2001 (except, er, Tom Clancy in a number-one bestseller, but let’s press on).

All of the above brings up two thoughts in my mind. Number one, that doesn’t excuse the societal message of “be a sheep when confronted with crime or violence” that had been (and still is being) preached by our supposed leaders in government, the media, and academia.

Secondly, why is it okay to give the promoters of the “sheep strategy” a pass while piling on everybody else (at least everybody with an “R” next to their name) for other pre-September-11 miscalculations?