As union membership becomes ever more dependent upon the public sector, progressives have set about creating the hero card to stifle public criticism against increasingly unreasonable first responder demands for the generous pensions and benefits which are breaking cities and local governments across the country.
First responders such as firemen, police, and other emergency workers encounter stressful working conditions with some degree of danger involved. The stress and danger involved in these occupations are well known, as is the pay and long hours involved in dealing with unanticipated events in the middle of the night. Those who occupy these positions are certainly deserving of our respect as they go about their work in a professional manner. However, the risks inherent in these often unionized occupations does not entitle these workers to deification and automatic hero status for performing the job which is expected of them and for which they have been well trained.
The Democrat Party counts unions among its pantheon of support groups, and it is no secret that unions ferociously support Democrats and their progressive causes. Democrat administrations in big cities have taken care of public sector unions to the point where cities such as Detroit are sliding into bankruptcy unable to afford the generous benefit packages negotiated in years past. These cities find they are paying for two and sometimes three police and fire departments as current members retire and others are hired to replace them. The longer this situation has continued, the further these cities have fallen behind supporting ever increasing numbers of retirees while services have deteriorated due to the lack of funds allocated to those currently on the job.
As citizens have become ever more vocal in their criticism of these untenable situations whereby basic services are curtailed or eliminated to fund retiree benefits, the need has arisen to shield first responder unions from this unflattering public criticism and progressives have risen to the challenge with the creation of the hero card. In the wake of 9/11, when Americans were shocked by the destruction visited upon the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by al-Qaeda terrorists, those first responders who died tragically in the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center were ascribed hero status by a 24/7 news cycle desperate for both content and context. While their deaths were tragic, it was premature to accord deification and hero status on first responders obviously unaware of the extreme danger into which they were walking while operating according to their training as if this was just another emergency situation for which they were trained and prepared.
This is not to say that individual acts of heroism were not performed on that terrible day. As situational clarity evolved, certain individuals acted heroically fully aware of the danger and choosing to take risks nonetheless. After the first tower collapsed, there were first responders who continued to assist in the evacuation of the second tower aware that it was doomed also, and those passengers aboard United Airlines Flight 93 like Todd Beamer who orchestrated a counterattack and fought the hijackers for control of their doomed aircraft were certainly heroes.
The act of dying, short of specifically giving one’s life for another, is not sufficient justification to be accorded hero status and neither is the act of performing the job one is trained to do. Those first responders who died on 9/11 certainly deserve our respect, as do the passengers, building occupants, and other innocent civilians whose lives were tragically cut short that day through the murderous actions of those cowardly al-Qaeda terrorists, but elevating everyone who died on that tragic day does nothing but diminish the sacrifices of those who did act heroically and are truly deserving of that honor.
Americans struggling to understand the wrenching changes wrought on 9/11 were only too willing to express their admiration for the lives lost on that day by accepting the accordance of hero status bestowed by the media. Conservative Americans in the heartland are patriotic and unwilling to challenge a distinction bestowed by the media upon a group who have perished in the line of duty, and progressives seized upon this to perpetuate the myth of the hero card bestowed upon any first responder by virtue of holding the occupation and a valid union card. Creation of the hero card is a powerful antidote to public criticism of unionized first responder demands on public finances.
Criticism of union demands requiring increased taxes are countered by playing the hero card which goes something to the effect that first responders are heroes because they respond to dangerous situations in keeping civilians safe so no one can dare question the entirely reasonable compensation claims which they are requesting. Much like the demand to increase teacher pay under the rubric of school funding requiring the inevitable tax increase sold with the line “It’s for the kids!” by shameless education workers, tax increases necessitated by unionized first responder demands are sold with the line “It’s for the heroes!”
Progressives learned a lot of valuable lessons from their days of youthful exuberance protesting the structured and ordered society of America which they sought to destroy with no thought of its benefits or what its replacement would be. They observed that spitting on soldiers returning from Vietnam was a public relations nightmare that opened the antiwar movement up to charges of being anti-military and instantly turned traditional, center-right, middle-class America off to their message. By the time the Gulf War rolled around in 1991, progressives had learned to fawn over soldiers to the point of obsequiousness with lavish parades and flag waving, all while obtaining their objective of diminishing the military behind the scenes through budget cuts which eliminate cost-of-living increases and replacement of worn out equipment. They learned to manipulate the public into believing they were supportive of the military so as to insulate themselves from conservative charges that they were gutting the military.
By creating the hero card, they once again manipulate the public by creating the illusion that criticism of unionized first responder demands is unpatriotic and not to be tolerated by anyone considering themselves red-blooded Americans. First responders do perform under stressful conditions and occasionally find themselves in dangerous situations, but their occupations do not even rank among the top ten most dangerous jobs in America. Hard working Americans employed as loggers, commercial fishermen, pilots, truck drivers, high voltage power line workers, construction workers, and farmers all face much more dangerous conditions on the job, and statistics bear out the increased danger inherent in these occupations. Are these occupations less deserving of hero status?
Accordance of hero status to everyone only serves to diminish its value to those truly deserving of the accolade, much like awarding trophies to every participant in sports so as to avoid damage to the self-esteem of young participants much more able to handle loss than the squeamish adults ostensibly administering the programs only serves to indoctrinate children into realizing they no longer have to try and that recognition of effort gains them nothing. Soldiers don’t risk life and limb going above and beyond the call of duty because they seek a medal. They do so because it is part of their job and they are only doing what anyone else in their unit would have done under similar circumstances. In a firefight, they aren’t thinking about getting a prestigious medal; they are thinking about getting out of the situation alive and intact! Rational thought would dictate that they stay down and protect themselves while ignoring their training and sense of camaraderie.
It is incumbent upon us conservatives to recognize creation of the hero card by the progressives for the cheap political tactic of squelching criticism against unionized first responder benefit demands that it is, and to resist allowing this maneuver on par with the race card from silencing what must be said to thwart the progressive agenda of control directed at Americans. We can’t afford to suffer through more years of being silenced by a phony hero card as we have been by the phony race card. Our cities and states have been bankrupted by egregious public sector union demands which know no end. The Obama administration is perpetuating these same demands on a national scale with the exact same results. We risk losing our entire country by allowing the progressives to create these untouchable shibboleths, and we can ill afford the time necessary for those who perpetuate the hero card to descend into absurdity like those who employ the race card.
It’s extremely difficult to live up to the idea and image of a hero. Many of those accorded the status are unable to do so, and many others are reluctant to accept the burden in the first place. Celebrities willingly trade the luxury of privacy for the allure of fame whether they understand the full implications of the trade or not, but heroes have fame thrust upon them for acts they consider routine and unworthy. They have no say in the fame attached to hero status and must endure as best as they can. Some adjust to this fame and some tragically do not. By according hero status upon an entire group by virtue of their choice of employment, the concept of heroism is diminished, cynicism in increased, and criticism is silenced.