First Responders as Heroes?

Sunday, September 11, 2011
Posted in category Security State

I had a brief conversation with a friend of mine yesterday, in anticipation of the 9/11 worship that was already being rolled out by the tediously repetitious media machine all week long. I am swearing off all media today because I cannot stand this endless attention to 9/11 and the persistent glorification of police and fire and EMT, and whatever other state-employed professionals are deemed to be heroes because they represent the state as our rescuer, benefactor, and savior.

First, I absolutely dislike the term “first responder” because it is a term of veneration with no basis other than these folks are employed by the state in hallowed roles. My friend, who is a retired police officer, mentioned he had been out on some police and fire discussion boards making the unpopular argument that police officers, firemen, and all other so-called first responders, are not heroes. We were in agreement that they are not heroes just because they do their job, whatever that job entails. They are not heroes because they may have some element of danger in their work – just like an accountant who balances the book is not a hero, and a lumberjack who drops a tree is not a hero. Yet each time a first responder dies, the local – and sometimes national – media reminds us over and over of the passing individual’s greatness and service to his country. Are there not a lot of great accountants and lumberjacks who pass on as well?

My deceased father, a career firefighter, also despised the fixation with propping up police and fire personnel as the demigods of public security and welfare. He disliked the media exaltation and he refused to attend a mass funeral of one of his own with lines of fire trucks and police cars, with lights ablaze, blocking and parading down the streets to broadcast that a hero has passed. He chose to quietly visit the funeral parlor instead.

Why are Americans so consumed by all of this show and symbolism without substance? Because people are perpetually brainwashed with feelgoodism, and they accept it at its face value. It is easier to relate to the popular and prevailing position rather than create their own thoughts. These folks are taught that to declare an unpopular and politically incorrect opinion that so obviously goes against the grain falls into the “either you’re with us or you are against us” mentality. And no one wants to be standing on his own as opposed to being one of the “united we stand.”

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11 Responses to First Responders as Heroes?

  1. Valerie Tullos says:

    September 11th, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for so eloquently articulating my feelings on this. I have been on a rant all week. I thought I was alone. My poor high schooler has been taking a beating all week while I dispute all the over-inflated positions that are being thrown her way.  Thanks again!  Valerie

  2. Robert Taylor says:

    September 11th, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Valerie took the words from my mouth. We go through the same thing with soldiers returning home whether they’ve been in battle or not. If everyone, I mean everyone, is now a hero…then so am I for having to withstand this hyper-emotionalism.

  3. D, Saul Weiner says:

    September 11th, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    quently puts in his book “The Sheer Ecstasy of the Lunatic Farmer”, the lunatic fringe who simply refuse to accept the narraitve set forth by our betters.

  4. zensquirrel says:

    September 12th, 2011 at 6:09 am

    Good post and good point. Part of the problem is emergency services being used as a platform for ritual veneration of the paternalistic nanny state. Firefighters and EMTs do good work, but let’s say a few neighbors work together to save their homes from an approaching wildfire: does this make them, by definition, firefighters? Of course it does. But to the paternalistic State no they are not, because they are not agents of an anointed government agency. We saw this on full display during Katrina with government agencies taking upon themselves the role of “rescuer” (and making for photogenic TV coverage), even for those who neither needed nor wanted to be “rescued”, while those who were comfortably prepared were told to get out of their homes and surrender their guns, and ordinary people wanting to help were told to get out of the way.

    This problem extends to the IAFF’s refusal to recognize volunteer and private for-profit fire departments as “real” firefighters; fire departments’ use of military ranks and terminology (“brigade”, “captain”, “lieutenant”), and parades and military dress uniforms; wrapping firefighting in nationalistic imagery, such as displaying large American flags on vehicles; and lumping fire and EMT together with the police under the general heading of “public service” – never mind that the role of the police is clearly one of State repression these days.

    A quick perusal of Wikipedia shows the extent this mentality is taken for granted. It ranges from the blatantly obvious (the articles on search and rescue contain minimal actual information on SAR techniques and are almost entirely concerned with listing what government agencies are responsible for SAR, overemphasizing especially the military), to the subtle (“WikiProject Fire Service” instead of “WikiProject Firefighting” – the choice of the word “service” is not by accident).

  5. liberranter says:

    September 12th, 2011 at 9:09 am

    At least firefighters and EMTs, tax feeders though they might currently be, are actually dedicated to saving lives and property. To lump them into same category as the murderous blue-suited bully-enforcers called “cops,” is simply disgraceful. Still, this doesn’t justify the elevation of these “first responders” [sic] to the status of demi-god heroes. The jobs of both firefighters and EMTs can very easily be and should be fully severed from government and fully privatized. Once people are forced to pay for the services of these professionals out of their own pockets or through their own privately funded insurance policies, this public “hero worship” will disappear instantly.

  6. Roy says:

    September 12th, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Karen, a few months ago we had a state trooper get killed in the line of duty here in Amherst, NY (a suburb of Buffalo). The story grabbed front page headlines for close to a week and talk radio airwaves were abuzz for about that long, all mourning the passing of a brave hero. The governor came into town for the funeral and the funeral procession of police cars and other first responders shut down the main drag in Amherst (population 120,000) for about an hour.

    You’re probably wondering how this hero’s life was taken. Did he use himself as a human shield vs a crazed gunman to save the life of an infant? Nope.

    Maybe he died bravely in a shootout vs a team of bankrobbers? Wrong again.

    Fall out of a tree while trying to rescue a cat? You’re getting colder.

    What actually happened was he was on the side of the road writing a speeding ticket at sunrise. The sun was in motorists’ eyes on that part of the highway and a guy ran him over on the side of the road. Some hero!

    I should point out that the section of road where he bit it is well known for their aggressive speed enforcement. Like most speed limits, the road is posted too low, but the local townships find that strict enforcement is quite lucrative.

    And for this we get a week’s worth of maudlin commentary from local media, shutting down a main road in a large and affluent suburb, and a special visit from the governor. How pathetic.

  7. Angel says:

    September 12th, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I am also uncomfortable with the hero worship of first responders. I certainly appreciate the work they do, but putting themselves in danger is something they signed up for – it’s what they are SUPPOSED to do. Hero worship is such a warped perspective on their work!

    I am a military veteran and I have always been uncomfortable with the hero worship of the military, too. I joined the military because I needed a job, and so did the vast majority of everyone else in the military. I knew I would be working far from home, transferring every few years, etc, when I signed up. That’s not heroic! It’s just a job requirement.

    There are a million different ways to serve one’s country. The military is only one of them, and not even the best option for most people.

  8. steve says:

    September 13th, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Concur. Not typically prone to hero worship, but if you had to re: 9/11, I’d go with the former Marine who left his job, put on his uniform and proceeded to the pile to find 2 survivors when the “first responders” were called off. It certainly wasn’t his job that day, but put himself at grave personal risk to do it.
    Also, as a military member typing this in iraq right now, I’d agree w/ other comments about military worship. I still don’t know what to say when people thank me for my ‘service’. The only response I can muster in my usual stunned state is “thank you”, but in my mind I’m thinking, “service? This ain’t the peace corps. I get paid, well, am doing what I enjoy and I’m statistically safer over here than on my normal commute back in the states.”
    And a partial ditto for purple hearts. Since when did they become a badge of honor? Sure some lost a limb or worse to receive one, but I’m sorry getting grazed by a bullet because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, does not make you a hero. Plus, I’m getting a little tired of seeing purple heart license plates in greater numbers on the road as if to say ‘everybody look at me’.

  9. Mike says:

    September 14th, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Valid points all…I tend not to be so reactionary to the attention first responders get. If one chooses to minimize the attention and adulation they get due to the inherent risks of their occupations, you have to at least admit that their work is a hell of a lot more interesting (and as important) as Accounting. 9/11 presented some unique challenges to these people. The challenges they faced that day should be looked at, and appreciated individually and apart from the poor policeman who got hit by the car writing a ticket. It was a different kind of day.

  10. Gary R says:

    September 16th, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    From the other side of the coin: My son-in-law is a police man who I admire greatly. Onbody made him put on his uniform and vest today as he goes out on night patrol. He chose to do this because of a desire to protect that members of your family and mine. Every day we worry about the drunk or drugie who may take him away from my daughter and their four children. He does not do it for the money, the pay stinks, he does not have a power craze that makes him feel special in uniform. He goes out because of a true sense of duty.Do I f feel such a person is a “hero” if he gives up his life protecting others ? You bet I would. Same goes for my friends and associates that served or are serving their country today to protect you and I. They left their family and jobs at home for the same sense of duty to all of us and our country. They may not see themselves as heros

  11. Gary R says:

    September 16th, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    As for the firemen and police who rushed into 911 Hell, without tought to their saftey…….what else could they be seen as other than heroes?

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