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Comparing the Costa with the Titanic

Nick Lowry:

The survivor statistics tell the tale. More women from third class — deep in the bowels of the Titanic, where it was hard to escape and instructions were vague or nonexistent — survived than men from first class. Almost all of the women from first class (97 percent) and second class (84 percent) made it. As Butler notes, the men from first class who were lost stayed behind voluntarily, true to their Edwardian ideals.

. . .The Titanic went down, they say, to the strains of the hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” as the band courageously played on. It lent a final grace note to the tragedy. . .

These facts tell a different story than the Hollywood film, but then facts usually do.

On the Costa Concordia, now in the news, the captain abandoned his ship.

An Australian mother and her young daughter have described being pushed aside by hysterical men as they tried to board lifeboats. . .Yet another, a grandmother, complained, “I was standing by the lifeboats and men, big men, were banging into me and knocking the girls.”

. . .The grounded cruise ship has its heroes, of course, just as the Titanic had its cowards. But the discipline of the Titanic’s crew and the self-enforced chivalric ethic that prevailed among its men largely trumped the natural urge toward panicked self-preservation.

In a disaster, give us the calm, the capable, the chivalrous.

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