“I don’t know what to do,” sighed Gene Rosen. “I’m getting hang-up calls, I’m getting some calls, I’m getting emails with, not direct threats, but accusations that I’m lying, that I’m a crisis actor, ‘how much am I being paid?’” Someone posted a photo of his house online. There have been phony Google and YouTube accounts created in his name, messages on white supremacist message boards ridiculing the “emotional Jewish guy,” and dozens of blog posts and videos “exposing” him as a fraud. One email purporting to be a business inquiry taunted: “How are all those little students doing? You know, the ones that showed up at your house after the ‘shooting’. What is the going rate for getting involved in a gov’t sponsored hoax anyway?”
What did Rosen do to deserve this? One month ago, he found six little children and a bus driver at the end of the driveway of his home in Newtown, Conn. “We can’t go back to school,” one little boy told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.” He brought them inside and gave them food and juice and toys. He called their parents. He sat with them and listened to their shocked accounts of what had happened just down the street inside Sandy Hook Elementary, close enough that Rosen heard the gunshots.
In the hours and days that followed, Rosen did a lot of media interviews. “I wanted to speak about the bravery of the children, and it kind of helped me work through this,” he told Salon in an interview. “I guess I kind of opened myself up to this.”
A few important points:
1. Rosen isn’t a hero, though the piece in Salon repeatedly says that he is. Rosen is a good person. He helped people in need by simply opening his door to them. He wasn’t putting himself at risk or making any sort of sacrifice. Though this doesn’t make him any less good, it also means he didn’t do something heroic. If sitting with frightened children and calling their parents amounts to heroism today, we’re all in a lot of trouble.
2. The people who are harassing Rosen are awful and foolish. This shouldn’t be particularly surprising, as there are a great many people out there who are paranoid or just generally terrible. But it is nonetheless disheartening to see how many such people exist, as well as how virulent they are in their hatred of others and how their fear of everything gets turned outward toward others.
3. We would all benefit a great deal from a general lessening of wingnut conspiracy theorizing. This is the absolute worst part of human nature on display and we can only hope that fear of harassment won’t stop the next nice person like Gene Rosen from doing the right thing and helping others.
HT: Michael Tofias.