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The Four Faces of Cowardice
How Fear and Inaction Hamper Us All
© 2013 James LaFond
Posted in Harm City on Aug 18, 2013
To cower is to shrink in fear, shrink from the doing of what we believe should be done in response to a fear. Courage is its opposite, to do what we believe needs to be done despite that same fear. For the past two days, after seeing a YouTube video from a school bus surveillance camera [with sound], an argument has been raging between my monkey ears. Let me tell you, I sometimes get pretty sick of having to share my brain with James LaFond the writer. At this time, after having come to terms with my own peculiar cowardice, I have decided to spill my psyche here…
The Cowardly Bus Driver
The video in question was taken some months ago on a school bus in Florida. The video and audio shows a slight white boy being attacked and brutally stomped by three black boys, one well-muscled and approaching physical maturity. The bus driver, a large middle-aged black man, called for police assistance and made the very serious claim that the boy was being beaten “to death.” This is an important point, as in Black America and the American legal system, unarmed attacks by youths are never regarded as noteworthy, or even worthy of armed defense or legal action, unless they appear to be imminently fatal. He then stood and "short-paced" at the head of the bus, and [at least] twice directed the attackers to stop. They ignored him and he did not intervene.
Police did arrest the boys, whose victim had a broken arm and facial injuries. They faced only minor juvenile charges for their conduct, reflecting the lack of seriousness attached to unarmed group attacks by youths, who are legally not differentiated from toddlers in our great nation. The cause of the attack was the white boy’s unwillingness to deal drugs and the fact that he "snitched." Based on the attack and local reportage, I suspect that these three boys are junior members of a gang set. These poor boys though, cannot be held liable for their crimes, as they are poor oppressed children of the Mamma State. However, the witch hunt is on for the driver, who is possibly being charged with "child neglect." There is much footage available featuring opinions, excuses, reactions, and of course the beating. I am not interested in the witch-hunt aspects of the case. I am only interested in the mechanics, both primal and social, of the bus-driver’s inaction.
The most common accusations are that this driver failed to protect this boy because he was white and that the driver and the attackers were black. The video is being used by conservatives to illustrate the racial double standard in our nation. Everyone I told about it said that they would have helped the boy. I do believe their good intentions, but doubt if they would have helped. For the driver to get physical with those three boys on behalf of the victim would have required him breaking two primal and two social barriers, four hurdles to go to be a hero.
This is a context piece. I have intentionally not researched this incident and have only viewed the video twice. I, however, am one of the leading experts on actual violence in modern America, and have been in this bus driver’s shoes on seven occasions. I, like the driver, turned out to be a coward, to permit my fears to rule me, when I was placed, seven times, in his shoes. So, by identifying this man as a coward, I must so identify myself.
Confessions of a Conditional Coward
Hello, I am James, and I am a coward.
I have often found solace in the fact that I am nearly immune to most types of cowardice, and have shamefully used this immunity to certain normal paralyzing fears, to obscure the fact that I harbor a deep unreasoning fear that has often paralyzed me into inaction. I have, like the bus driver above, on seven specific occasions, stood, sat, and walked casually by as innocent and helpless children were brutalized. I may seem like a badass, flashing my wallet to thugs on the prowl for mugging victims, and inviting them to follow me up a darkened side-street, but I am still a coward. I just don’t suffer from thug cowardice. My affliction is more advanced, and perhaps less extinguishable.
On one occasion I was walking to an appointment when I saw two white teenagers, at White & Sefton, in Hamilton Baltimore, hanging another white boy from a tree, by a cord that hangs from that tree to this day. Every time I see that rope I am reminded of my crime. As I walked by they looked at me and dropped him, the cord wrapped around his chest breaking his fall and causing him to gasp in pain and beg. This was the idea, to tie him, raise him, and drop him. They repeated the process, again, and again as I passed. I did nothing, continuing on my way, even as a woman yelled out of her car for them to stop, and then for me to stop it. I gave her the finger and walked on, content with the torture of the weak in my wake. That was a cruel cowardly act.
I once stood at a bus stop reading the Book of Five Rings by Musashi at Sinclair Lane and Moravia and watched three black boys stomp another black boy. I idly counted the head kicks, rib kicks, etc. adding the attack to my Violence Project database. That was a cruel and cowardly act.
I once walked by a doorway on Light Street near Ostend, as two bums stomped another bum while three more bums looked on. They even pissed on the man in the biting January cold. I chuckled and walked on by, noting the incident in my violence survey when I got in out of the rain. This was a cruel and cowardly act.
I once watched two black girls beat another, smaller, black girl at Harford and Hugo. I did nothing. It was not chivalry that held me back. A year earlier I had shoulder butted and then threatened to butcher, a black teenage female right in front of 40 to 50 black men and women, at this very spot. But I showed no interest in helping out this girl who was being beaten because she was pretty. This was a cruel and cowardly act.
A year later, on the #19 bus heading past this very spot, loaded with black construction workers and school children, I sat and watched as four boys beat another younger, smaller boy in the face. Every time this seated boy was hit he jerked his small, bald head back into an 80-year-old black woman’s face. After a mile of this the old lady’s face was swollen in an eye-shutting goose egg. I did nothing. My excuse was that the black men were also doing nothing, that the black female bus driver was not doing anything. What peculiar fear motivated me to inaction? Was it physical fear of injury, the psychological fear of imposing my will, the cultural fear of alienation, or the legal fear of government prosecution?
As I asked myself those questions, a deep self-hatred welled up inside of me and I decided to invite death at the hands of twenty black men. I beat up two of these boys in plain view of the sixty or so blacks right there on that bus before I got off. No one raised a hand or a voice against me, and one old man grinned. All I had done, in my rage, was to compound my cruel and cowardly act with a cruel and vengeful act.
A few years ago I watched three City Cops kick an old drunk in his swollen stomach because he was refusing to move off of a bench. I was not even brave enough to continue watching this. [Indeed am not brave enough now to name a date, time or location—having burned my notes!]I literally fled—at a walking pace mind you, careful to preserve my menacing antisocial brand of near-dignity—but fled all the same, like a coward into the night.
A few months ago I was a passenger in my son’s car, when I saw three black boys beating another black boy viciously, using book bags full of books to flail his head and legs. At this stage in my life, I am not only confident that I could physically have stopped this attack, but could have even done so verbally. Just by stepping up and talking to the attackers, helping out the victim, and handing out Combat Arts cards worth a free boxing or stick-fighting lesson, I could have turned this into a mentoring opportunity, even recruited a fighter perhaps.
What did I do?
Did I direct my son to pull over so I could get out and stop the beating?
Did I just say, “Screw it, the black adults back there are doing nothing, why should I get involved?”
I watched the world burn, four more smoking souls dimming the lurid horizon, another nail in this brownstone coffin that some asshole politician named Charm City…
My Fellow Coward
What did I see in that video on the second viewing when I changed focus to the driver?
I saw nervousness, agitation, uneasiness, indecisiveness, hesitation.
What most people saw was a big man who could have tossed the mini-thugs aside and rescued the boy.
What I saw was a big teddy bear of a man who could not rediscover the testicles that Matriarchal America psychologically removed from him long ago. When most people see a big man, they see a brave, strong, fearless, ass-kicking machine. When I, as a boxing and stick-fighting coach, see a big man, I see a big soft target heading to the floor. It is so rare in our society to find big men who are also possessed of physical and psychological courage that a bidding war between NFL owners occurs on an annual basis, just to keep football teams staffed.
Most boxing coaches are famously nervous when they take their rare heavyweight to the ring, because they see him get his ass kicked by middleweights in the gym all year long! They just know if he finally runs into that other big man, who is not just big, but mean too, that the lights are going out. Such large, courageous fellows rarely gravitate to the childcare field.
What fears might have compelled his cowardice?
The Four Fears
Physical Courage is naturally possessed by less than half of men, and is even less prevalent in our current Orwellian state of domestication. The primal fear of injury guarantees that most men will never take physical risks unless compelled to by greater fears. Large size is a counter-indication of physical courage, as big creatures have more body to worry about. Just view some wolf versus elk footage on Nat. Geo. to get the idea.
Psychological Courage is absent in roughly 7 out of 10 men. In other words, unless compelled by a greater fear [cultural or political], most men will decline to impose their will on others. Dog owners should be well aware of this. Tales of a lap dog or terrier lording it over a collie or other large dog are legion among pet owners.
Cultural Courage is absent in almost all humans. Very few people will go against cultural norms. In Black America for instance, it is taboo for a man to use force against a boy, even when he is the father or step father. Black women are not subject to this taboo and dish out the majority of parental beatings. This bus driver had the angry specters of three ghetto mammas to contend with, all of whom would have numerous male relatives more than willing to go to jail for avenging their little cousins. It is also possible that these were junior members of a gang set that had older, more dangerous members that would serve as surrogate family avengers.
Political Courage is also very rare, and is something I have not a shred of. The courage to stand against the evil rulers of men, Jesus-like, is in very few of us. Ironically, the more physically and psychologically courageous a person is, the less likely he is to go against the government that owns him. What political fear did this man have to contend with?
Thanks to the structure of our Matriarchal Welfare State, most poor children in America—and particularly black children—have an absent biological father. The ramifications of this are numerous and off-discussed. But the most damaging aspect of this from a human perspective—and particularly from the point of view of a man who might be tempted to physically confront a boy—is that these poor male youths do have a father, and they all have the same father: The State. Lay your hand on a poor youth in the United States of America and you have just picked a fight against municipal, state and eventually federal authorities. The State is a giant, monolithic "Daddy," or dare we say "The Man" who will protect his children against any person who supposes to resurrect that unthinkably ancient and obsolescent masculine ideal of ages past.
The State has eclipsed Man and manhood as the masculine aspect of human society. And I, like that bus driver, fear the Police State every bit as much as my English ancestors who were sold into Canada as abducted children feared their French owners, and this bus driver's West African ancestors who were sold into America feared their plantation masters. Our masters own us still. They’ve just changed their names and multiplied like locusts to the point where we fancy ourselves free. The next time you are moved to vilify some poor schlep for not doing the right thing, stop and consider: would you risk doing, court time, jail time, or prison time to do the right thing?
Alienation Nation: Surviving Cultural Free Fall
The Microeconomics of Wife-beating
the man cave
Beyond the Garden of Ishtar
logic of steel
the greatest boxer
barbarism versus civilization
uncle satan
when you're food
search for an american spartacus
into leviathan’s maw
the combat space
Ishmael     May 24, 2015

James, some of my ancestors lived in Jamestown, as indentured servants. They ended up in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee areas, they hated authority and despised the state. I'm a throw back also, have never played well in the sandbox with others. I had my own recess in elementary school, kind of solitary for a little asshole. I have been a coward on my own accord also can understand your state of mind.
James     May 24, 2015


Louis L'Amour wrote a book titled 'To the Far Green Mountains' or something close, about a Jamestown era frontiersmen that reflects this English yeoman defiance. His series of novels on the Sackets trace a family with a similar background out west and into the early 1900s.

Look for some of his stuff set in the East for a touch of that: Like Brione and The Fergusson Rifle.
Tony Cox     Nov 20, 2017

Bus driver's job is to drive the bus. Putting his hands on those boys might have meant losing his job and not being able to feed his own children. His job title ain't "Bus Police". Self preservation instinct. Sometimes we rise to the occasion. There's no easy answer. Maybe admitting your own cowardice is akin to the man who knows he crazy.
Bob     Nov 20, 2017

I feel sorry for the bus driver (a 64-year-old).
James     Nov 20, 2017

An way you cut it he gets persecuted from both ends.

Thanks, Bob.
Bob     Nov 20, 2017

This was a very moving article. I haven't been in that situation, and I hope I never am, for the very real fear that I be revealed a moral coward.
Utter Contempt     Nov 21, 2017

Very well thought out and expressed. Thank you.
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