The curious case of Dr. Dao and leftist individualism

By Sean Harshey

“No man is an island.” We have all heard the phrase and understand it to refer to the interconnectedness of mankind. It is a common theme that crops up frequently in American culture. “Six degrees of separation,” Frank Capra’s iconic film “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the “butterfly effect” of chaos theory are examples. Our actions have an effect on the community around us. It is a truism understood by civilized men and the principle around which cultures are built. Even in societies with the greatest freedom, commonly agreed upon basic standards of conduct are necessary to avoid devolving into chaos.

Family units, neighborhoods, towns, states and our common nation are built within these frameworks. To organize even further we have traffic patterns, election rules and criminal codes. All of which are collectively decided upon for the common good.

Over the past several decades, Western civilization has been under relentless siege by leftists seeking control of the foundational institutions of our communities – courts, legislative bodies, academia, media, etc. – in order to tear down collective norms.

Over the past few years, however, there has been a new twist. A push by leftists to give individuals a veto over community standards with which they personally disagree. What to do when someone personally decides that marriage should be something besides what it has always been? The leftist answer is to allow every individual to redefine marriage to whatever they personally want it to mean. What about a man who decides that he wishes he were a woman – a biological, scientific and medical impossibility? Leftists control over foundational institutions is used to enforce his personal fiction on society, demanding he be treated and referred to as a woman, going so far as to permit him to dominate women in sports and intimidate them in restrooms.

The common theme is to turn community norms and standards upside down and portray them as an evil thing to be defeated instead of a good thing that holds us together. Chaos and confusion are the new “good” in place of order and peace.

Michael Brown in Ferguson, Freddie Gray in Baltimore and Eric Garner in New York City all fought police and ended up dead. Leftists seized these opportunities to advance the idea that larger questions of justice or perceived grievances should be settled by individuals physically attacking police and resisting arrest if they do not feel like being arrested. So, under this theory, if the Gentle Giant wants to walk down the middle of the street, he should have that right. Further, Brown had every right to punch and fight the officer and try to take his gun. Likewise, since Eric Garner felt like selling loose cigarettes, he should be allowed to resist arrest. In all of these circumstances, the criminal conduct was excused by the left as merely incidental to whatever the larger question was deemed to be.

The question remains: What are police, who represent the community, supposed to do? Anyone who resists should be free to go? That individuals should have a veto over compliance with the law?

Brown, Gray and Garner were not sympathetic characters to many, though. Most Americans cannot relate to the conduct that brought them into contact with police.

The case of David Dao, the United Airlines passenger dragged from his seat in the now-infamous video, is completely different. To recap, Dr. Dao was in his seat on an airliner prior to takeoff. United reportedly overbooked the flight. Without sufficient volunteers, the airline selected random travelers for rebooking. Dao was asked by the flight crew to leave the aircraft. He refused. The flight crew summoned police who asked him to gather his belongings and exit the aircraft. He still refused. In video of the incident, Dao – a Kentucky physician – is seen screaming and physically fighting police efforts to remove him from his seat. Once pulled out of his seat, he goes limp on the floor, requiring police to drag him by the arms down the aisle of the aircraft.

As in the matters of Brown, Gray and Garner, most discussions ignore Dao’s fighting with police by debating the underlying reasons for his contact with officers. Why are airlines permitted to overbook flights? Or why was Dr. Dao allowed to board the airplane before being bumped? But these are not the decisions of police. They are not policies of the flight crew. When Dao was asked by the crew to leave the aircraft, or when he was ordered off the flight by police, that was not the time for a debate about the correctness of airline policies any more than a sidewalk on Staten Island was an appropriate place for Eric Garner to fight police because he disagrees with a law against selling individual cigarettes.

The difference with Dr. Dao is that many more Americans can relate to the aggravation of being bumped from a flight than can understand walking in the middle of a street, resisting arrest or selling cigarettes on the sidewalk. And, unlike Brown, Gray and Garner, Dr. Dao did nothing to cause the initial interaction with the flight crew. He was randomly selected.

The question remains, however: What should police have done instead? The doctor was forcibly removed from the aircraft because he would not stand up and walk out. The screaming, fighting and lying on the floor were all Dao’s choices.

If someone believes a law is dumb, should he be allowed to violate that law if he resists hard enough?

The situation with Dr. Dao and the police is another step toward the chaos liberals are urging in every corner of our culture. As much as we sympathize with his situation, we should resist joining in the calls for people to assert themselves as individual islands or sovereign nations in any and every situation at the cost of confusion and turmoil in our society.

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