Heroes are much easier to create in the simple black-white, good-evil, with or against world of conservatism. After all, you automatically eliminate everyone who is not “one of us” from consideration. And anyone who stands up to “them” is half-way there already.
Conservatives love heroes. Look at the Media Heroes, Sarah Palin, the Mama Grizzly and her heroic battle against abortion. Never mind that abstinence doesn’t work and that thousands of children are suffering because conservatives refuse to accept that the facts do not fit their system.
A real hero makes the tough choices and rises above the rest of us, a normal person who does the exceptional.
But for American conservatism, a hero is any conservative who says “no” to Barack Obama and and who stands steadfastly by the conservative narrative, however it flies in the face of reality.
Apparently, blind obstinacy is now heroic.
We see, for example, that Sarah Palin is a hero. But she is also a hero who likes to talk about heroes, from Ronald Reagan (whom she appears to know nothing about) to the Founding Fathers (whom she can’t name) to Margaret Thatcher (whom presumably, she also knows nothing about), or most recently, Dr. Laura, for using the “N” word when talking to a black caller – 11 times! (Sarah says we should be “thankful” for her voice). Presumably, Sarah Palin does know something about Dr. Laura, and that tells us quite a bit about Sarah Palin.
If a person can be judged by the quality of their enemies, they can also be judged by the people they hold to be heroes.
But there are other heroes to admire. Sherif Joe Arapio is a hero because he has his own private concentration camp and hates Mexicans.
Hate is an important quality in conservative heroes.
John McCain is a war hero because of his service in Vietnam. His actual ability to grasp the issues or understand how the economy works are apparently irrelevant.
But he’s a good liar. Lying is also an important quality conservative heroes. Again, that blind obstinacy, obedient to the script in the face of all facts.
By the way, John Kerry, who also served with distinction in Vietnam, is not. Of course, Senator Kerry is a liberal. He can’t be a hero. He is one of “them.”
Conservatives love their dead heroes, like Reagan. They can’t wait to “saint” them. Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg wrote at unionleader.com on August 5, 2010 that “Conservatives, being conservatives, have a soft spot for the good old days, but this is getting ridiculous.” It’s not surprising, after all, since conservatism is at its heart about the status quo, and what says status quo like the past?
Progressives look forward, conservatives look back. But we all knew that.
Another prominent dead conservative hero is the bully-boy demagogue of the 50s, Joseph McCarthy. Ann Coulter loves him. Says he was a righteous dude.
Coulter likes McCarthy as much as Palin likes the people she can’t remember anything about, and like Palin, Coulter doesn’t seem to know much about them beyond their names. For example, she calls “The myth of ‘McCarthyism’ is the greatest Orwellian fraud of our times,” and said of McCarthy,
The portrayal of Senator Joe McCarthy as a wild-eyed demagogue destroying innocent lives is sheer liberal hobgoblinism. Liberals weren’t cowering in fear during the McCarthy era. They were systematically undermining the nation’s ability to defend itself while waging a bellicose campaign of lies to blacken McCarthy’s name. Everything you think you know about McCarthy is a hegemonic lie. Liberals denounced McCarthy because they were afraid of getting caught, so they fought back like animals to hide their own collaboration with a regime as evil as the Nazis.
I dunno about that, Ann, but I guess if anyone knows about Nazis and hobgoblinism, it’s you.
Glenn Beck has promoted himself as another hero of the right. His latest gimmick is the “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington D.C., on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech. Beck says this is a non-political thing but of course it’s as political as it can get (for a list of conservative groups “helping out” see Media Matters). He even invited Tea Party hero Sarah Palin, who, he says, is there to introduce “the heroes of the military, as a mother, not as a candidate.”
The hero narrative is essential to conservative self-identity. For a party that has largely become the Christian Morality Party to embrace so many golden idols is rather ironic, but there it is. While one cannot begrudge the status of hero to soldiers who have distinguished themselves, conservatives have gotten just a bit out of control as they hand out approbation and platitudes.
I mean, military heroes aside, to look at the evidence; standards have gotten so low that darn near everyone on the right can claim hero status for themselves. Conservative political commentator Debbie Schlussel wrote a piece last November about the desperation of the conservative hero-quest, arguing that if people like Carrie Prejean, Lou Dobbs, and Linda McMahon are conservatives then there is no conservatism. She may be right.
Children’s TV show Higglytown Heroes said your local baker and mailman were heroes too, and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that perhaps the Republicans have watched too many episodes of that kid’s show. To call every “average Joe”- or another hero, Joe the Plumber, a hero because they take out the garbage or wash the dishes is to cheapen what heroism is. Joe the Plumber wasn’t even a Plumber. Shouldn’t heroes by at least a little honest?
When ideology is all that is required to be a hero, the very idea of heroism has become meaningless. But given that conservatives have constructed a mythic America, why not populate it with suitable heroes?
So go be a hero while you can. Go to it, boys and girls!
And don’t forget to order your Sarah Palin hero action figure!:
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.