kevin_pat_350.jpg Well they say time loves a hero
but only time will tell
If he’s real, he’s a legend from heaven
If he ain’t he was sent here from hell

LITTLE FEAT

Coming off of the news that Pat Tillman, the pro football player turned Army Ranger, may have been murdered and was not a victim of friendly fire in Afghanistan, there has been discussion anew of what constitutes a hero soldier.

Does a soldier have to perform Audie Murphy-like feats to be a hero? Does someone like Tillman (at left in photo with brother Kevin), who walked away from a multi-million dollar contract with the Phoenix Cardinals to enlist in the Army in the wake of 9/11, qualify as a hero? What about No Name soldiers who are killed with nary a shred of publicity, their passing barely noticed?

These questions are even more pungent because the White House has worked assiduously to try to insulate a public increasingly sour on the Iraq war from the realities of combat. And obscenely, the Pentagon has tried to downplay the carnage to such an extent that the service branches have been stingy in awarding medals because they call attention to those realities. (See the following post for more on this.)

I’ll get to my answer as to who is a hero in a moment, but first the story of the journey that I took to get to that answer.

Please click here to read more at Kiko’s House.

Shaun Mullen
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Lynx
Guest
Lynx
9 years 1 month ago
I understand the impulse to declare all dead soldiers heroes, but being objective I can’t share it. The impulse is normal, a patriotic person loves their country, and their country is a team, a family of sorts, a home base. Soldiers are the representation of those who keep the home safe. They put themselves in situations most people would go to great lengths to avoid and the result is the protection of the country. Turning all of them into heroes is a way of trying to thank them for doing the sorts of things most of us do not have… Read more »
Jason Steck
Guest
9 years 1 month ago
Leaving aside the obvious fact that also women are heroes, the rest of the definition is apt. It’s a person that goes ABOVE AND BEYOND the call of duty. In a country with an all-volunteer military, everyone who even joins the military has gone “above and beyond the call of duty”, at least for those who may be exposed to combat. (I add this last part because I don’t think my military desk job qualified as heroic in any way.) In our selfish society, the “call of duty” is non-existent. People who volunteer for jobs that involve relatively high danger… Read more »
DavidTC
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DavidTC
9 years 1 month ago
I’m with Jason Steck above, Tillman was a hero because he was a somewhat famous person who, after the US was attacked, immediately signed up to go fight the attackers of his country, and died because of it. It was WWII redux, and no matter what the ultimate result of this is, Tillman was a hero. The problem of course, is that Bush sent him to Iraq, instead of Afganistan, and Tillman, apparently not being stupid, was getting pretty pissed about the country screwing around there and ready to speak out. Then he was, at least, killed by friendly fire.… Read more »
Jason Steck
Guest
9 years 1 month ago
1. The article was written by Shaun Mullen, not me. I think Shaun’s views on the Tillman debacle are quite correct, but I didn’t write them. 2. Tillman was killed in Afghanistan, not Iraq. So the conspiracy theory of his death kind of collapses unless, of course, you’re taking the position that the Afghanistan conflict is also completely unjust. 3. There is no evidence that Tillman was opposed to the Afghanistan war or was preparing to “speak out” against it. 4. Even if there were evidence that Tillman were anti-war or anti-Bush or anti-whatever, how would it be any better… Read more »
Ziusudra
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Ziusudra
9 years 1 month ago

Does someone like Tillman (at left in photo with brother Pat)

They’re not both named Pat are they? I think the brother is Kevin.

cosmoetica
Guest
9 years 1 month ago
Lynx: Thanks for pointing out all the fallacies about ‘heroism.’ This is just an extension of the ‘every child is special’ nonsense. The other meme is that all cops or firemen are heroes. Nonsense. Although Wikipedia is a dubious source of information, at best, one cannot look at the respective Tillman and Murphy bios to see a yawning gulf in accomplishment. Similarly, were all the 9/11 victims heroes? With 3k dead, just on a statistical average, there were 15-1800 adulterers, a few hundred tax cheats, a few hundred felons- including rapists, pedophiles and murderers, and assorted other bad guys. A… Read more »
cosmoetica
Guest
9 years 1 month ago

‘Tillman was a hero because he was a somewhat famous person who, after the US was attacked, immediately signed up to go fight the attackers of his country, and died because of it.’

Really examine what you wrote there. It’s an incredible display of snobbery.

Gray
Guest
9 years 1 month ago

“Tillman was a hero because he was a somewhat famous person who, after the US was attacked, immediately signed up to go fight the attackers of his country, and died because of it.”
Well, imho this doesn’t make him a hero (ok, close call), but he deserves a lot of respect for this decision.
A LOT MORE RESPECT THAN THOSE CHICKENHAWKS WHO DIDN’T RISK ANYTHING; BUT THINK THEY ARE HELPING THEIR NATION BY SMEARING FOLKS WHO WENT IN THE LINE OF FIRE!

cosmoetica
Guest
9 years 1 month ago
To use an analogy from sports. Michael Jordan. I’m a New York Knicks fan, so I grit my teeth when I say, he’s one of the 3 or 4 greatest b’ball players ever. To compare Tillman to Audie Murphy is like comparing a HS benchwarmer to Jordan. Yes, they’re both basketball players, but that’s where the similarity ends. Tillman and Murphy were military men. That’s where the similarity ends. In all this BS over Tillman, what is lost is that by claiming Tillman a hero the claimants are actually demeaning true heroes like Murphy, for the benchwarming HS kid did… Read more »
cosmoetica
Guest
9 years 1 month ago

BTW: The Michael Jordan of film is dead:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/30/movies/30cnd-bergman.html?_r=2&hp=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1185802233-UD14gfjmRZsf/gdChCtBaA&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

Ingmar Bergman, the “poet with the camera” who is considered one of the greatest directors in motion picture history, died today on the small island of Faro where he lived on the Baltic coast of Sweden, Astrid Soderbergh Widding, president of The Ingmar Bergman Foundation, said. Bergman was 89….

Gray
Guest
9 years 1 month ago
Blah, cosmo. This is my honest opinion, and I happen to take this personally. Chickenhawks are miserable creature. Well, now for your praise on Murphy. A hero, sure. But not for the military successes, but because he put himself into clear and present danger, beyond the call of duty. How many tanks he destroyed is secondary, that depended on a lot of luck, too. Would he have been less of a hero if a strayed bullet would have killed him in his very first day? I don’t think so. And that’s why I think your comparison doesn’t succeed in diminishing… Read more »
Entropy
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Entropy
9 years 1 month ago
“Hero” is ultimately a subjective term. I consider my Mother, who died earlier this year, a hero for raising me largely alone after a messy divorce and with limited means, but probably most people would have a different view and that’s ok. As someone who served for many years both on active duty and the reserve, I would caution people to be wary of elevating those in military service to a status above that of other citizens. Certainly, as Jason points out, service should be recognized and honored, but putting military members as a class onto a pedestal risks, imo,… Read more »
domajot
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domajot
9 years 1 month ago

For obvious reasons, I’m reminded of the group specializing in disrupting military funerals, order to stage their own obsessive hatred.

Tillman voluntarily put his life at risk for his principles, not for gain and not for fame.
I respect him for that.

I can’t respect the use of his death for suspect ulterior motives, not when it’s the government trying to create a false rectuitment poster, and not when someone uses the death to showcase
his/her disdain for decency in others.

Gray
Guest
9 years 1 month ago

No misunderstandings, pls: My rant about “chickenhawks” was aimed at commenters at right wing blogs who hold the opinion that Tillman’s death was nothing to worry about just because they were under the impression he may have been a liberal. I stumbled across some really shameful comments. That Tillman was interested in Noam Chomsky’s ideas seems to make it kind of a blessing that he was killed. Some repubs really have no sense of dignity left.

Entropy
Guest
Entropy
9 years 1 month ago

Gray,

By the same token some on the left have stupidly suggested that Tillman was murdered by members of his unit for his supposedly leftist views.

I think Pat Lang get’s it right on Tillman.

mw
Guest
9 years 1 month ago

Wow. As the sage Yogi Berra said “Its deja vu all over again.”

From prior experience in a remarkably similar recent thread, I can offer the good news that no response is really required. Just put out the rope and he does the right thing all by himself.

Gray
Guest
9 years 1 month ago
Entropy, I can’t (and won’t) dismiss that there sure are some loonies on the left spreading mind-twisting conspiration theories. But pls show us any publicly known left blogger who is promoting such nonsense! As for Pat Land, a quite thoughtful column on Tillman, better than most of the stories in right wing blogs. But I have two major problems with him: “Mary Tillman evidently wants to believe that her son’s death has some esoteric meaning. ” Where did he get this idea? Insisting on knowing the truth about the death of a beloved is somehow becoming esoteric in US? I… Read more »
cosmoetica
Guest
9 years 1 month ago
Gray: What about the word analogy did you miss? ‘A hero, sure. But not for the military successes, but because he put himself into clear and present danger, beyond the call of duty. How many tanks he destroyed is secondary, that depended on a lot of luck, too. Would he have been less of a hero if a strayed bullet would have killed him in his very first day? I don’t think so.’ Well, no. Would Jordan have become a superstar if he had a stroke in high school? The point is a hero, or a superstar, or any other… Read more »
cosmoetica
Guest
9 years 1 month ago

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/31/movies/31cnd-antonio.html?_r=3&hp=&oref=slogin&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin&oref=slogin

First Bergman, now Antonioni.

Michelangelo Antonioni, the Italian director whose chilly depictions of alienation were cornerstones of international filmmaking in the 1960s, inspiring intense measures of admiration, denunciation and confusion, died on Monday at his home in Rome, Italian news media reported today. He was 94. He died on the same day as Ingmar Bergman, the Swedish filmmaker who died at his home in Sweden earlier Monday….

Entropy
Guest
Entropy
9 years 1 month ago

Gray,

You obviously don’t read Pat Lang’s blog if you think he’s a right-winger.

Cosmo:

Entropy: ‘Honor service, yes, but do not too liberally apply the hero moniker.’

Seems someone said that before.

Seems like someone said something about “bicpep brain,” “dumb jock,” and other such nonsense.

Gray
Guest
9 years 1 month ago

“The point is a hero, or a superstar, or any other appellation”
Here’s the main reason why we can’t find common ground, Cosmo. Imho ‘hero’ and ‘superstar’ are totally different pairs of shoes. That’s why I think comparing Murphy (or any soldier who served honorably) with Jordan doesn’t make any sense at all. What grave danger did Air Jordan face? The whole idea is ridiculous.

Gray
Guest
9 years 1 month ago

“You obviously don’t read Pat Lang’s blog if you think he’s a right-winger.”
Gotme. I haven’t closely followed the blogs for quite some months. However, regardless of Langs’ position on the political landscape, his stance towards Tillman’s mother and on the necessity of a new investigation certainly doesn’*t put him in the liberal field on this issue.

cosmoetica
Guest
9 years 1 month ago
Entropy: Let’s review your dialectical skills, which unfortunately are common with most blog commenters. a) Distortion: the taking of comments out of context to try to prove a point when contextualized cannot be achieved. b) Strawmanning: a form of distortion, when commenter 1 says A, commenter 2 says #1 said B, then argues against B, and does not touch A because they cannot refute it. c) The Godfather Gambit: a dialectic trick that came about in the 1970s, when Italian-American rights groups protested the Coppola films claiming that even portraying Italians in the Mob was slanderous to all Italians. What… Read more »
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