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Aug. 5th, 2006 | 12:20 am
posted by: pifactorial in revicon
A final example might explain this shift in our view of elites in America. Of the many differences between the blockbuster movie Titanic and history, one in particular is telling. In the movie, as the ship is sinking, the first-class passengers scramble to climb into the small number of lifeboats. Only the determination of the hardy seamen, who use guns to keep the grasping plutocrats at bay, gets the women and children into the boats. In fact, according to survivors' accounts, the "women and children first" convention was observed with almost no exception among the upper classes. The statistics make this plain. In first class, every child was saved, as were all but 5 (of 144) women, 3 of whom chose to die with their husbands. By contrast, 70 percent of the men in first class perished. In second class, which was also inhabited by rich professional types, 80 percent of the women were saved but 90 percent of the men drowned. The men on the first-class list of the Titanic virtually made up the Forbes 400 of the time. John Jacob Astor, reputedly the richest man in America at the time, is said to have fought his way to a boat, put his wife in it, and then, refusing to take a seat, stepped back and waved her goodbye. Benjamin Guggenheim similarly declined a seat, yielding his place to a woman, asking only that she convey a message home: "Tell my wife... I played the game out straight and to the end. No woman shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward." In other words, some of the most powerful men in the world adhered to an unwritten code of honor - even though it meant certain death.
The movie-makers altered the story for good reason: no one would believe it today.
-- Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom