Sunday, October 14, 2007

We don't need another hero

By Capt. Fogg

The English language isn't what it used to be. It's not as much the expression of a culture but more and more a tool for manipulation. Take the word hero. It used to connote a doer of bold and noble deeds; someone favored by the divine, but as with most things these days, the requirements have been dumbed down and conferring the title of hero is a way to make the exploited seem, well, less exploited.

The guy who runs into a burning building to save someone else can fairly be called a hero but what about the guy who unwittingly holds the door for the guy who runs in to pillage the place before it all burns up? Is he a hero if he's killed so that others may steal during a fire that was set for the purpose? Most people wouldn't say so; they'd say he was a victim and the law would agree, but if we talk about soldiers and not firefighters, everyone is a hero now.

I was struck by an article in The Miami Herald this morning about Staff Sergeant Lillian Clamens, wife and mother of three, killed in Iraq by a missile. Lillian was a personnel clerk only three days away from coming home to her family. Her three children have already bought the costumes for the Halloween party planned to celebrate her return. Her husband, a logistics manager for the Army ROTC program seems stoic, or so the Herald plays the story. They're all heroes, you see and heroes don't cry and consequently neither should we. We should celebrate the heroism of another senseless death, another casualty of the Neo-con crusade to make the world free for exploitation by the rich and corporate; another destroyed family and three more orphans because of a colossally mismanaged power grab by a government that never sheds a tear unless it has to pay for some kid's medical insurance or old person's medicine.

Maybe it's OK to be stoic; to act as though it was important that men and women are dying, but it's not OK for us to pass by it all, to absolve ourselves by calling her a hero, to pretend her children aren't crying, because she's a hero, that we haven't lost one of our own forever, because she's a hero, because soldiers are warriors and warriors are heroes even if they die for someone else's ambitions, our arm chair patriotism and our apathy.

What have we done to ourselves if fathers and mothers, sons and daughters and husbands have to believe that our government hasn't got the blood of their families on their hands and in their wallets; what has become of a nation that it can't cry for someone's mother, someone's wife? What of a culture that has to hide contempt for what they know is wrong; hide grief for what they know is a tragedy behind the cult of Bush and the myth of the warrior hero?

(Cross-posted from Human Voices.)

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  • Good questions. And I have no answers, but then, I am one of those shrill, screaming (veteran) bitches who gets her panties in a knot over football stars being called warriors and gridiron heros. And America needs to dump being stoic about this war and get flatly pissed off.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:12 PM  

  • I agree, and thanks for the comment.

    What some people are calling the cult of the soldier or the cult of the warrior is, in my opinion, distracting us from realizing what we are doing to our military people and what we are doing to ourselves by turning our back on private agony while waving the flag. Too much talk about supporting the troops is really supporting our fantasy and our cowardice.

    There is something wrong with us that we are not angrier.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 9:32 AM  

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