Rukmini Callimachi is an outstanding reporter for the New York Times. She lets her story tell itself in “A Dream Ended on a Mountain Road: The Cyclists and the ISIS Militants.” Bruce Bawer expands on and explicates Callimachi’s story in the PJ Media column “Death by entitlement.” Biking in far-flung places around the world, the young couple portrayed in Callimachi’s story are murdered by ISIS terrorists who mow them down on the road in Tajikistan. Bawer’s biting column comes to this bracing conclusion:
Times readers called the couple heroes. No, the heroes are not these poor fools who stumbled into an ISIS-controlled area; the heroes are the soldiers from the U.S. and elsewhere – most of them a decade or so younger, and centuries savvier, than Austin and Geoghegan – who, while the two 29-year-olds were on a year-long cycling holiday, were risking their lives to beat back ISIS. What, then, is the moral of this couple’s story? In the last analysis, it’s a story about two young people who, like many other privileged members of their generation of Americans, went to a supposedly top-notch university only to come away poorly educated but heavily propagandized – imbued with a fashionable postmodern contempt for Western civilization and a readiness to idealize and sentimentalize “the other” (especially when the latter is decidedly uncivilized). This, ultimately, was their tragedy: taking for granted American freedom, prosperity, and security, they dismissed these extraordinary blessings as boring, banal, and (in Austin’s word) “beige,” and set off, with the starry-eyed and suicidal naivete of children who never entirely grew up, on a child’s fairy-tale adventure into the most perilous parts of the planet. Far from being inspirational, theirs is a profoundly cautionary – and distinctly timely – tale that every American, parents especially, should take to heart.
You likely do not need Bawer’s teaching but, as Bawer implies, you may well know someone who does.