An airport brawl seems like a microcosm of America

A few videos are making the rounds showing a wild brawl taking place at one of the gates in Miami International Airport.  We don't know what started the brawl, although the media are reporting that the police did eventually arrest one person for disorderly conduct.  The primary victim, however, does not want to press charges, so the matter will almost certainly disappear.

What makes one of the videos so compelling is the fact that it seemingly represents the breakdown of law and order across American cities.  That sense begins with the video's backdrop.  Because of the relationship between the person who filmed the video and the fight itself, the backdrop to the fight is a store in the terminal called "Urban Decay."

At least six people (probably men, although the long dreadlocks or braids make perfect sex identification difficult) are engaged in a wild brawl.  On the left, you see three people stomping on one individual buried under a pile of bodies.  On the right, you see one individual doing a hard ground-and-pound on another person hidden behind chairs.

Outside the camera's range, we hear men and women bleating, "Stop it," "No," and "Guys, you'll get in trouble," as if those words are going to stop people with violent adrenalin pumping through their bodies.  In the background, with the words Urban Decay above their heads, several people stand videotaping the event.

Both videos reveal that only two men had the courage to get close to the brawlers to try to break up the fight.  Both did it gently and effectively.  They are to be commended for their grace and courage.  (One of the videos says a woman helped, but I couldn't find footage of her.  Kudos to her, too.)

Everyone else watched and videotaped.  That means we have a fair amount of footage showing just how brutal the fight was.  However, as of this writing, I still don't know how it started.

Airport security eventually arrived.  They were quite passive, but their presence lowered the temperature enough for the fight to end.

This is what America seems to have become in 2021: a place unconstrained by any societal norms, in which even once peaceful venues become the setting for wildly antisocial behavior.  Moreover, there are almost no men with chests to step in and make things right.

If you're not familiar with the phrase "men without chests," it's from C.S. Lewis's 1943 book, The Abolition of Man.  In it, Lewis writes,

We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

It's a densely written book, which makes it hard to read because it begins by attacking what we've come to know as moral relativism or postmodernism — that is, denying objective facts and values and replacing everything with subjective feelings.  In that context, his men without chests weren't weaklings.  They were, instead, men who no longer stood for anything because moral relativism left them without values they could hang on to as guides through life.  Notions such as bravery, honor, decency, loyalty, and chivalry are meaningless if everything is supplanted by feelings.

And so, at the airport, brutal men fought because they've been raised in a world without objective values of decency and morality.  Meanwhile, but for the few who stepped in, everyone else had feelings, too: this is bad, I might get hurt, people will get arrested, I don't want to appear racist, etc.  No one had an overarching moral principle that said a good person — or perhaps several good people — must stop a dangerous situation.

We are witnessing urban decay or, more accurately, cultural decay.  But take heart.  When we think of the Georgian era in late 18th- and early 19th-century England, we tend to think of a refined Jane Austen world or, nowadays, a raunchily civilized Bridgerton world.  In fact, the Georgian era, especially in London, was an exceptionally debauched, corrupt, brutal, and crime-ridden world.

The hugely successful Victorian era — successful both morally and economically — emerged as a civilized and civilizing response to that Georgian madness.  As much as anything, a social revolution can result from a sense of repugnance.  Society may feel that it has reached a point of almost no return and withdraw, much as a snail does when it senses a killing amount of salt in its environment.

If 19th-century British people could clamp down on the madness and reinstate values that shape a strong society, we can, too — especially because we've got the United States Constitution at our backs to help us do it.

Image: Miami airport brawl.  Twitter screen grab.

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