January 14, 2011, - 3:16 pm

Obama, Tucson & Hero Inflation: 20% of Americans–Mostly Minorities–Are Now “Heroes?”

By Debbie Schlussel

I have a theory about heroes and heroism in America, today.  And a few heroes–most of them brave men–at Saturday’s shooting in Tucson by an anarchical nut don’t change it.


They’re “Heroes” Only in Our Hero-Inflation Age

Not only are there fewer heroes in America, today–fewer people to live up to the moment and fight and do what is called for to save life and limb–but there is tremendous hero inflation.  Barack Obama’s narcissistic pep rally in Tucson on Wednesday Night is a great example.  He’s a “hero” for delivering a speech.  And in that speech, he tells us how we have to live up to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’–“Gabby,” in Obama’s “magic healer” parlance–expectations and vision of what America should be like.

Uh, no, we don’t.  I’m sorry she was shot and that six others were murdered, and I pray for “Gabby’s” recovery.  But none of this makes her a hero or in any way requires me to “live up” (or, rather, down) to her liberal views of a porous American border and socialized medicine.  She’s just a person who got shot who happened to be an elected official.  She’s not a hero for surviving a massacre.  If she were, then I would also be worshiping James Brady because he survived getting shot . . . and every Tupac and Jawan who gets shot in the hood and survives must, by that, definition also be a hero I’m supposed to live up to.  And I would also worship every single person who ever survived anything because of the grace of G-d.  And while I have tremendous sympathy and empathy for most of them, not a single one is a hero for getting shot and living.

The heroes, Saturday, are the men (and supposedly a woman, though I think that’s trumped up for feminist political correctness’ sake–another aspect of hero inflation) who instantly risked their lives to finally foil Jared Loughner and hold him down, so that he could not shoot any more people than those he had already maimed and killed.

The thing is that, now, not only is “Gabby” a “hero” (for being shot and no other reason), but EVERYONE–or at least a pretty high number of people–in America are now “heroes.”  A new study took a sample of 4,000 adult Americans and found that 20%–that’s one in five!–were heroes.  I think that’s a bit high.

Don’t get me wrong. America is a heroic nation. We are the greatest country on earth and a light among nations. We have the moral high ground in the world. And we are a heroic people. But I just don’t believe we have that many individual heroes among us. On the contrary, we’ve, more than not, sunken into mediocrity and a general unwillingness to do the right thing.

If this was during World War II–when Americans were more polite, they were smarter, and they exhibited more common courtesy and the willingness to sacrifice for their country–I’d believe that figure.  But, now, I think it’s just a figment of the egomania and excessive self-esteem that are the sad symptoms of our dumbed-down, me-me-me, sex-at-age-12/boob-job-at-15 society.

And get a load of how the study found that these people were heroes.  It’s a textbook case of narcissism (and probably embarrassment–as in, too embarrassed to say no and not claim some glory to a poll-taker):

Philip Zimbardo, a Stanford University professor emeritus and colleagues used a nationally-representative sample of 4,000 adults and found that 20% qualified as heroes — they had helped during a dangerous emergency, taken a stand against injustice, or sacrificed for a stranger.

It used to be that helping during an emergency or sacrificing and fighting injustice was the right thing to do. It was the basic, expected level of behavior, NOT heroic. But we’ve reached such a low point that basic human decency is now “above and beyond.” Exactly as I said: hero inflation. Oh, and in case you didn’t get it: there’s a little racism and bigotry thrown in. Apparently, this study says that White people are half as heroic as Blacks and Hispanics. But, if you read the way this absurd study was conducted, White people are just half as willing to be bragadocious egomaniacs. In other words, White people are just a tad more modest and less afflicted by uber-inflated self-esteem.

In the study, both Blacks and Hispanics were twice as likely as whites to have performed heroic deeds. Zimbardo says they want to do follow-up research on the reasons for the racial/ethnic differences, which he speculates could be attributed to “greater opportunities to respond” or “being discriminated against makes them have more compassion to others in need.”

The study, supported by the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford, asked participants “Have you ever done something that other people — not necessarily you yourself — considered a heroic act or deed?” Those who answered “yes” selected from a list the actions most similar to their own: helping another person in a dangerous emergency; “blowing the whistle” on an injustice with awareness of the personal risk or threat to yourself; sacrifice on behalf of a non-relative or stranger, such as an organ donation; defying unjust authority; or other.

By this definition, Black Panthers could consider themselves “heroic” for shooting cops, and a Muslim would consider him/herself heroic for illegally fundraising for HAMAS. (Hey, Imad Hamad is now a “hero.”)

As America and Americans are dumbed down and continue to define deviancy down–as we focus more and more on the vapid and unimportant like the Kardashians and MTV’s teen moms–Americans are less heroic.  And there are fewer individual heroes among us than there once were.  People just can’t be bothered, and fewer and fewer care. It’s not that America has more heroes. It’s that more people have the conceit to think they are heroes for pursuing their own selfish ambitions and their followers buy into this emperor with no clothing act (Sarah Palin is a great example of this).

America needs heroes.  And we still have them–serving in our Armed Forces on the battlefield, saving people at the Safeway in Tucson on Saturday, and in the New York Subway, where a brave Vietnam Vet, Wesley Autry, risked his own life to rescue someone who fell on the track, a few years ago.

But the only thing I learned from Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday and the hype over Gabrielle Giffords is that America hyper-inflates who the heroes are. And I already knew that.

With our pop-culture induced dumbing down of the definition, far too many Americans are considered heroes. But they did nothing heroic.

And, by definition, in a world where everyone is a hero, no one is.

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27 Responses

Hero is the most overused word in America. Remember the pilot named Scully who landed a plane in the Hudson? Everyone called him a hero. He is not. Why?

A hero, by definition, is someone who acts in an extraordinary way, putting their lives and/or their economic well being, to save or assist another person, without expectations of benefit to themselves.

Now, Captain Scully had to land that plane to save himself. He did that. He did not act so as to put himself in danger to save the passengers. Also, that was his job. Ergo, great pilot, not a hero.

The little girl who died in Tucson is now being called a hero. No, she is a victim. The six million Jews who died in the Holocaust were mostly murder victims, not heroes. Even if they converted to Christianity, they were still slaughtered due to Hitler’s belief about a Jew’s genetic make-up. There were some heroes amongs the dead, but most simply murdered.

I had colon cancer, and a very good friend of mine told me I was his hero because of how I handled it. No, I had cancer, and there was no alternative but to get back to work, even after some pretty nasty surgery. I thank G-d for the medical care I received. I was no hero. I was lucky to live in a country where doctors, before Obamacare, were free to practice medicine as they saw fit.

So indeed, once again Debbie you are right. On the other hand, you put your life on the line for this country, given your criticsm of these meshugana (yiddish for crazy) Muslim terrorists. You are my hero.

Jonathan Grant on January 14, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Johnathan, your wrong about Scully. Since when does a pilot have to land in the water as an everyday part of their job? They may simulate it in school, but never expect it to happen, and it happened so unexpectedly and so fast and he was under so much pressure with so many people’s lives in his hands to act fast without crashing, that he is a hero for not choking or freaking out and panicking like most people would do when they are about to die. HE even had the sense to blow of the FAA tower people because he didn’t have time to explain to the idiot Feds what was happening. He had to act quick or die, and just because he saved himself does not mean he’s not a hero. He had to save himself in order to save hundreds of others. So he is a hero if you check your premise.

    Who cares? on January 14, 2011 at 5:25 pm

      Couldn’t agree more. Misapplication of the word “hero” has been a growing over the past 10 or so years and has reached absurdity. Growing up, I learned that courage and self sacrifice were the hallmarks of a hero.

      GC on January 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Debbie, you are a true American hero for publishing this! 😉

KayserSozay on January 14, 2011 at 3:45 pm

The fault for this shooting lies
With both Giffords and the sheriff. If
She was being stalked,where in the hell
Was her security? Where was her gun

Patrick on January 14, 2011 at 4:04 pm

In my view, a hero is someone who does extraordinary things without being asked, who sacrifices everything for what is right even at risk to his own life. Those who saved Jews during World War II were heroes – and they never sought the spotlight or did it for selfish reasons – just out of human decency, kindness and a belief they did G-d’s will.

We do have such people today but when someone hogs the spotlight, that’s not a hero. A narcissist by definition can never be hero. Hey, when I do the right thing, I would not want special treatment or recognition for it. Its part of my duty to G-d. Its just sad our society, so self-absorbed can’t acknowledge or care about it any more. The fake heroes of today aren’t doing us any favors.

NormanF on January 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm

The first “hero” of that day just so happened to be a Hispanic man that was an aide to Giffords. His act of heroism: Running to her side after she had been shot. He held her head is his lap thinking this would help with her breathing.
First of all any EMT would tell you, in order for a victim to not choke on their own blood, you have to turn them on their side….Aside from that simple piece of medical knowledge that he DIDN’T get correct, the aide did nothing out of the EX-traordinary to illicit heroic behavior. It’s funny that the people who subdued the attacker were not featured as “heroic” in the first 24 hours of this horrific event….perhaps because they were just ordinary white folks.

wolf2012 on January 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

hey, I am a hero too! I wake up in the morning and shower all by myself.

Mats on January 14, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Er, um, sadly, much of psychological research is as biased as the global warming crowd’s research. They publish articles (& recently too) that claim that those of us not liberals suffer from low IQ, personality disorders or defects, etc.,etc.

If Zimbardo (who has been around the block about 1000 times) did not find that minorities (but not Jews, heavens no, never those people) were better and idealize them, he would lose all of his friends, and perhaps what’s left of his mind.

Cat K on January 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Those who publicly and loudly battle the agenda of Islam are amazing heroes who have to live with the threat of sudden and gruesome murder at any moment, day or night.

poetcomic1 on January 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Allen West is a hero. Ben Carson, MD is one. The Medal of Honor Winner is one (and many unsung ones in Afghanistan).

But Obama? Only in his little twisted mind. The folks who wrestled down the Fort Hood shooter and the Tucson shooter, yeah.

John McCain was one.

Honestly, though? My big heroes are Walter Reed and Jonas Salk. They risked their own lives for medical advances (both immunized themselves with their vaccines before mass use).

And you put your safety on the line, too, Debbie.

Occam's Tool on January 14, 2011 at 5:03 pm

The time is RIPE to GET Jamal Al Gashey – he is believed to
be hiding in Tunisia. Al GASHey is the last surviving
terrorist from the Munich Olympics Massacre in 1972. He escaped judgement – even a trial – and is married with 2
daughters. His left wrist was shot during the shootout at the Furstenfeldbruk Air Base in Germany. In Al GASHey’s own words, from the Kevin McDonald documentary “One Day in September:”
“I’m proud of what I did at Munich”

PROUD???? Let 2011 be the year this DOG is WIPED FROM THE

Tony on January 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Well, I guess that’s kind of like in education where the goal is to boost everyone’s self-esteem; never mind whether they learn to read or write, as long as they have self-esteem. It’s a short jump then to calling them heros.

Little Al on January 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Seems the number one rule to becoming a hero is keeping your head. While most people were running scared and becoming potential targets for the shooter only a few had the sense to subdue and disarm him. Sometimes the eye of the storm is the safest place to be.
There are many ‘sports heros’ ‘my heros’ ‘inspirational heros’ etc. but True Heros are far and few between and very rarely get or ask for the recognition they truly deserve.

theShadow on January 14, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Good observations, Debbie. Congressional Medal of HONOR, and other medals for bravery are bestowed upon worthy people for being heroic. I’m sure some where there’s some break down of the people who have won some citation for bravery. If we want to get picky we can look at how under represented minorities are in the military and special forces to be exact. This has been reported by USA Today of all news sources. They excused the minorities for not volunteering in the same numbers and rates as whites do due their not feeling as included in the American experience. My experience in corrections has led me to the same conclusions.

samurai on January 14, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I got into a lengthy debate with people on YouTube who consider Sinead O’Connort a hero for ripping up a photo of the Pope! I said it used to be a hero was someone who put his life in danger to save another. Well, they said, she risked her music career. Again I answered them, she was on Saturday Night Live, considered at the time the hippest audience on TV and even they booed her behavior. She though the audience would cheer her for doing this, it never crossed her mind she was risking anything except a paper cut. As a former NYer I was proud the audience could recognize narcissistic behavior from talent.

BoKnows on January 14, 2011 at 8:09 pm

“Oddball”, a character in the movie “Kelly’s Heroes” played by Donald Sutherland, made an observation about heroes “…to you a hero is some sort of a weird sandwich!”. I don’t why I felt the need to post this except that I liked that movie.

CornCoLeo on January 14, 2011 at 8:28 pm

In Britain, hundreds of people aboard a cruise ship that fled from Somali pirates last week are heroes to a man.

Preposteroso on January 15, 2011 at 1:11 am

Debbie, you nailed it. 5 star entry for sure. EXCELLENT. This is the best review of Obama’s speech that I have read. It’s amazing how the media, on both sides, no longer gets “it”.

Bonzer Wolf on January 15, 2011 at 1:31 am


As other posters above wrote…5 star post! Thank you.

cthelight on January 15, 2011 at 8:54 am

thank G-d for you steady, clear-thinking voice, debbie.

howardroark43 on January 15, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I disagree with J.G. I think Skully the pilot was definitely a hero. Pretty much 90% of the pilots out there would’ve been unable to stop all those people from dying. That’s good enough for me. Yes, he saved his own skin, but still, he kept his cool and executed. That was enough. He wrote a stupid book but he still saved lives in a very difficult way.

samurai on January 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm


Systemic Failure on January 16, 2011 at 4:07 am

You’re absolutely correct, Debbie, as I know from personal experience. My wife of 44 years is in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. I cared for her at home for almost ten years before she moved into residential care, where she had more company and more activities. The residence she chose several years earlier is only six blocks from home so I can still visit her several times a week.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve been complimented for my “courage” or told what a “hero” I am for spending so much time with her, reading to her, going for walks, taking her out for treats and meals, and playing music and old movie DVDs for her. Each time I thank the person for the kind thoughts but point out that courage has nothing to do with it. It’s a matter of love and gratitude to the Lord for blessing my life with her. She’s been a remarkable wife and mother, who would no doubt object to being called a hero if she could speak, yet she’s the personification of Proverbs 31: “10 An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. . . . 26She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”
Indeed, perhaps not a hero, but these days, doing one’s job well is often praiseworthy and a blessing to others. And, despite difficult times, she insisted we practice and preach traditional values, one more quality for which I’m grateful.

Acaciadad on January 16, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Yep, you’ve got the bogus “study” correct, Debbie. What a joke. As you’ve noted, it’s simply what people are claiming. Has there been any real follow-up as to the accuracy of said claims? Well, of course not! That might expose all the liars in said “survey.” Anyone can claim: “Yeah, I saved the lives of all these people in a burning building, back in, uh, let’s see, 1925. Yeah, that’s it. And, that’s not to mention of course how I single-handedly defeated a battalion of nazis during D-day.” only to discover that said claimant was born in 1979. LOL

J.S. on January 16, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Just like the PC practice of playing team sports with no score, heros are produced out of thin air.

After all, actual heros make the non-heros feel bad about themselves.

Can’t have that now can we?

Sam Adams on January 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Ok, I’m not sure I can relate to what was said above. To each his own I suppose.

Kelley Bossley on January 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm

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