Ryan Carson and Joan of Arc

Ryan Carson and Joan of Arc

We’d guess that most of you are at least nominally familiar with the story of Joan of Arc, the young French farm girl, who was inspired by God to lead the armies of the Dauphin to victory against the English in several key battles, turning the tide in the Hundred Years War.

In brief, Joan was the youngest daughter of a poor farmer in Domremy in the region of Champaign.  Starting when she was 13, she heard “voices,” (presumed to be supernatural) and, in time, had visions – of St. Michael the Archangel, among others.  When she was 16, she was compelled by her voices to present herself to aides of the Dauphin (Prince Charles), offering her assistance.  After overcoming some initial skepticism (by presenting a “sign” to Charles), Joan managed to win the trust of the Dauphin’s military and led them to a rout over the English at Orleans, resulting in the lifting of the siege of that city.  She then led the armies on to victory at Patay and Troyes, clearing the way to Reims, where the Dauphin would be crowned King Charles VII of France.  After a brief ceasefire, Joan returned to the battlefield, where she was eventually captured, sold to the English, tried for heresy, and burned at the stake.

St. Joan of Arc was canonized by Pope Benedict XV on May 16, 1920.

What you may not know about the young warrior-“maid,” is that she led her troops into battle, knowing full well that she would not be killed, that she could not be killed.  The voices told her all that would happen and permitted her to know – and to predict, before the events took place – the course of events in which she would participate, including that she would be shot in the breast by an arrow but would survive:

[P]erhaps the most interesting fact connected with this early stage of her mission is a letter of one Sire de Rotslaer [or Rotslaar] written from Lyons on 22 April, 1429, which was delivered at Brussels and duly registered, as the manuscript to this day attests, before any of the events referred to received their fulfilment. The Maid, he reports, said “that she would save Orléans and would compel the English to raise the siege, that she herself in a battle before Orléans would be wounded by a shaft but would not die of it, and that the King, in the course of the coming summer, would be crowned at Reims, together with other things which the King keeps secret.”

In short, the young Maid’s faith and God allowed her to carry out her mission, assured that she would not be killed.

As you may know, over the weekend, a “social justice activist” named Ryan Carson was stabbed to death on the streets of New York City, not far from his home.  The reaction to the stabbing has been somewhat surreal, to be blunt.  Many who profess to be “conservatives” have drawn some strange satisfaction from the incident, insisting that it shows that “social justice” campaigning is ridiculous and that the advocacy of leniency for criminals inevitably causes greater societal harm.  It was, they suggest, both ironic and fitting that Carson’s social justice advocacy resulted in his own harm.

Meanwhile, many on the Left have decided that the real issue here is not Carson’s death or the fact that the streets of New York are now less safe than they have been for years, but the aforementioned conservatives’ reaction to it.  In yet another manifestation of the “Republicans pounce” meme, Left-leaning pundits appear more upset at the crassness and heartlessness of Right-wing Twitteratti than they do at the failures that have enabled the resurgence of violence on the streets of American cities.

In short, this story has quickly become just like every other story in this country today, an excuse to air political differences and grievances.

For our part, we have some different thoughts.  To start, we have a couple of pieces of practical advice.

First, if you are ever confronted by a person brandishing a knife, you should utilize the defense tactics demonstrated in this video.  Run the **** away!  If you have the stomach to watch the entire uncensored video of the stabbing (ironically enough posted here by Right-wing provocateur Charlie Kirk), you’ll see that Carson and his girlfriend actually follow his killer down the street, trying to calm him down.  When the attacker pulls his knife, Carson (honorably) steps in front of his girlfriend, but neither of them makes any effort to get the hell out of there.  When he finally does run, Carson trips over a bench, which, horrifyingly, seals his fate.

We don’t intend here to criticize a murder victim or to blame him for his murder.  Nevertheless, all of this can serve as a teaching moment.  ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings (especially on the streets of New York at 4:00 AM) and avoid a confrontation if at all possible.

Second, if you cannot avoid confrontation with a person armed with a knife, then you must do your best to smother the weapon, to take away an assailant’s ability to strike more than once.  As our friend (and mentor) Grand Master Daniel Longoria is wont to say, “You never read in the news about someone who ‘died from a stab wound.’  They always die ‘from multiple stab wounds.’”  In other words, even if you get stabbed or cut doing so, the only way to survive a knife attack is to smother the weapon and prevent your attacker from using it to cut/stab you over and over.

Finally, understand that you are NOT Joan of Arc.

Writing this morning at The Free Press, Rob Henderson attributed Carson’s murder – as well as that of his fellow social justice activist Josh Kruger, who was shot in his home in Philadelphia last week – to “luxury beliefs.”

[T]hese people did not deserve harm because of their support for soft-on-crime policies. But I’ve long argued that many people who hold “luxury beliefs”—ideas and opinions that confer status on the upper class, while often inflicting costs on the lower classes—are oblivious to the consequences of their views. Support for defunding the police is a classic example. 

Luxury beliefs can stem from malice, good intentions, or outright naivete.

But the individuals who hold those beliefs, the people who wield the most influence in policy and culture, are often sheltered when their preferences are implemented….

Expressing a luxury belief is a manifestation of cultural capital, a signal of one’s fortunate economic circumstances. And we are living with the consequences of the elite’s luxury beliefs when it comes to public safety and criminal justice. Indeed, the massive spike in violent crime across the U.S. is a reminder of the power of elite opinion.

Certainly, there is some merit in Henderson’s thesis, and we agree that those who most ardently advocate for “social justice” are usually radically removed from the consequences of that justice.  Nevertheless, we attribute Carson’s death at least to “religious” beliefs more than luxury beliefs.  Near the end of a story on the stabbing, The New York Post gives us this tidbit:

Acadia Cutschall, 32 — who attended school with Carson, volunteered with him, and called him her “best friend” — went to his stoop to mourn his death Monday. 

“I was present once when he literally talked a guy out of mugging him,” Cutschall said. “He gave him some money.” 

If Carson had the opportunity, he may have even lent a hand to the man who took his life, according to Cutschall. 

“He would probably help out a guy like that,” she said.

Carson sounds like a well-meaning but incredibly naïve young man.  His heart was in the right place, and his intentions were good.  But as we know, and as eric Voegelin tried to warn us, good intentions are not enough.  And when they are based on premises of faith rather than reality, they inevitably lead to disaster.

Look again at the video.  Carson and his girlfriend get up and go to assist the clearly disturbed young man – on the streets of New York at 4:00 AM – convinced that the righteousness of their beliefs in social justice would preserve their safety.  Obviously, no one can know what was in Carson’s heart and mind at the time, but one suspects that he was doing precisely what his friend Acadia said he would do.  He was trying to “help,” firmly believing that his willingness to do so and his belief in the rectitude of social justice would spare him from harm.  But it didn’t work out that way.  The “voices” in his head that told him to take on this task were not the same voices that told Joan of Arc to go to war against the English.  And the results, were also not the same.

To be sure, we don’t want to be hypercritical of the victim of a terribly tragic event.  And to that end, we don’t want to leave the impression that Carson’s death was the result of anyone’s actions other than his killer’s.  Nevertheless, it is important to remember that “proper” beliefs are no safeguard against the evils of our world.  At best, a vanishingly small number of people in history could engage in war or confront murderous evil, secure in the knowledge that they would not die.  Indeed, in most cases, the justification for taking on such a risk is that it will be rewarded in the afterlife – which is to say that death is possible, if not probable.

Joan of Arc was a hero, a martyr who survived war but was punished for her faith.  Ryan Carson was the victim of false prophets who convinced him that his righteous faith would ensure his safety.  They made him into a martyr too.  But for what?

Stephen Soukup
Stephen Soukup
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Steve Soukup is the Vice President and Publisher of The Political Forum, an “independent research provider” that delivers research and consulting services to the institutional investment community, with an emphasis on economic, social, political, and geopolitical events that are likely to have an impact on the financial markets in the United States and abroad.