26 I CHRONICLESnOPINIONSnRevenge of the Nerd by Arthur Ecksteinn”He can be compelled^ who does not know hownto die.”n— SenecanQuiet Rage: Bernie Goetz in anTime of Madness by Lillian Rubin,nNew York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.n^^'”Phat’s IT. I’ve HAD it withnX bourgeois-liberal guilt!” In disgust,nmy friend slammed Lillian Rubin’snnew book back across the table atnme. We had been reading a hospitalnscene (one of many) from Quiet Rage,nRubin’s account of the BernhardnGoetz case: a wounded boy lying onna hospital bed in a darkened room, anboy barely able to move, murmuringn”Mama, Mama!” over and over. It’s anscene right out of an old-fashionedntear-jerker like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.nWhat Lillian Rubin neglects tonmention, however, is that the patheticnchild-victim in this scene — actually anyouth, 19 years old — was, at the timendepicted, under indictment for armednArthur Eckstein is professor of historynat the University of Maryland.nrobbery. The armament: a shotgun.nShortly before Christmas 1984,nBernhard Hugo Goetz shot and seriouslynwounded four young men, passengersnon a New York City subwaynnntrain. Before he disappeared into thenwinter evening, Goetz told the conductornthat the four had been trying tonrob him and that he’d fired only innself-defense. By the time Goetz turnednhimself over to the police a week later,n”The Subway Vigilante” had becomena New York celebrity. There had beenna huge outpouring of public sympathynand support for him, evident in all thenradio talk shows. There were suggestionsnthat the shooter be named NewnYork City Police Commissioner, thatnhe be elected mayor, even governor. Anretired schoolteacher said, “Mr. Goetznshowed us that if you stand up andnfight the criminal element, it mightnstop them from attacking so manynpeople.” A noted criminal lawyer put itnthis way: “He has expressed a blow fornfreedom — freedom from assault, freedomnfrom rape, freedom from fear.”nThat was one myth.nBut if most ordinary New Yorkersninstinctively assumed that The SubwaynVigilante was a hero, there was alwaysna smaller group — establishment liberalsnand radical intellectuals—who hadna different instinctive gut-reaction tonthe story. Goetz was white; the mennhe shot were black. Goetz was middlenclass, the men he shot were productsnot ghetto misery. Sympathy forn