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November 10, 2007



Tony, thanks. By providing a precise definition of hero and discussing it in the context of Giuliani and Kerik, you magnify the contrast between a real hero and the pseudo version.


This fine blog post has lured me out into the open, again. I live near enough to Ft Drum to see vehicles every day painted with slogans saying "welcome back Daddy (Mommy), you're my hero." Which is unqualifiedly true. The fighting men and women have given of themselves much much more than we stay-at-homes were ever led to believe several years ago. The children of these soldiers have also paid a huge price in terms of growth, trust, fear, and uncertainty; and if their lives are smooth from now on, the cost is still too high.
So when Kerik, Guiliani, Bush, and whomever else spouts the "hero" reference along with self-referential language, it's time to back off and remind ourselves that the people who own the terminology own the propaganda. Remember the NIKE ad in which Michael Jordan said "if there were no sports, would I still be your hero?" (source on request).
Let us consider the dictionary definition of the word ( http://merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hero)

"1 a: a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability b: an illustrious warrior c: a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities d: one that shows great courage
2 a: the principal male character in a literary or dramatic work b: the central figure in an event, period, or movement"

Are these people of divine descent? Not hardly.
Are they illustrious warriors? Again, no.
Do they exhibit noble qualities? That depends on your definition of "noble,"
which we won't examine here.
Have they shown great courage? See previous answer.

Are they the principal characters in a literary or dramatic work?
Now we're getting somewhere. Are we talking about works of fiction, such as Kerik's tax returns, and testimony to the group that held hearings for his DHS position?
Are we referring to Giuliani's redacted accounts of his 9/11 history?

My point is that unless the reader or listener is in charge of the definitions, which had better stick to generally accepted usages, we're in the linguistic gumbo with the "torture" crowd, Mukasey included. Thank you Brigitte, for another intelligent post.

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