I don’t think the dictionary really matters that much to CBS Sports commentator Tim Brando. At least not based on anything he wrote during a Twitter tirade today that lasted a few hours and, as I type this, is still going on.
Now, when I think about heroism, as I happen to do as the author of a book and co-host of a podcast on the topic, here’s the sort of thing I have in mind:
People act heroically when they make a potentially life-altering sacrifice or put themselves at some serious risk and they need not have done so. Most often, today, heroes are those whose actions are seen to benefit others; in the classical sense, however, heroism included a broader range of martial actions or feats of endurance that were not necessarily other-regarding.
There’s more to say, obviously, but that’s a quick first pass at a definition. It’s interesting and potentially very fruitful to debate particular heroes and definitions of heroic actions — and, obviously, I’m counting on it for the success of my book — but it’s noteworthy that Brando seems not to have offered a definition at all, despite claiming that his Twitter tirade was all due to his deep care for definitions.
Incidentally, here are the tweets surrounding Ben Shapiro’s heroism tweet.
He’s gearing up to defend himself against allegations of homophobia with the argument that no one’s sexual orientation should matter in our society, that we shouldn’t be paying extra attention to Jason Collins just because he decided to come out, and that telling people you’re gay is just as (un)important as telling people you’re straight … which is pretty much the equivalent of shouting “I’m privileged in every single way possible” from the rooftops.
I’m guessing it’s actually challenging to pretend that you don’t understand the many pressures our society places on black men, on homosexuals, on athletes, and on homosexual black male athletes … especially when you’re as much of a straight, white, well-educated, well-off, bootstrap-self-puller-upper as Shapiro.
Needless to say, he’ll be writing a piece for some right-wing website about how he’s the victim of the Left’s intimidation and silencing tactics — the subject of a whole book he wrote (amazingly, it’s called Bullies) — soon enough.
From Comedy Central’s Indecision Tumblr:
Countdown over! In the category of derpiest comment about NBA pro Jason Collins’ coming out, the winner is Breitbart.com’s Ben Shapiro:
Hmm, who DOES meet Shapiro’s awfully high Nazi-killing standard for heroism?
Ben Shapiro’s standard for heroism has risen quite a bit since three months ago.
By every conceivable metric, Jason Collins’ decision to become the first openly gay active athlete in a major professional sport meets the definition of a heroic action. By those same metrics — and so many others — Breitbart.com’s Ben Shapiro is a ridiculous gasbag.
There are, of course, going to be far, far worse responses to Collins. But the anticipation of those don’t make Shapiro’s comments any less foolish.
As a huge fan of the unending foolishness of Sarah Palin, I obviously like everything about this.
How does Palin know the dinner was pathetic? Did she hate-watch it?
And leaving aside Peter Wade’s important note that Palin herself was a guest at various White House Correspondents’ Dinner parties back in 2011, it’s hilarious to note that Palin, who makes it sound here like she’s part of the hard-working “rest of America,” couldn’t make it through a full term as Alaska’s governor and currently doesn’t actually have a job … unless endlessly posting nonsense on Twitter and Facebook is a job.
I’m sure hard-working Americans everywhere are so thankful that this paragon of hard work is in their corner.
Incidentally, this also works for websites and even local businesses. Is someone out there doing a bad job? Don’t give them your time, attention, or money.
CAMERA: You’re Doing It Wrong
I know several people who subsribe to an email listserv run by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). Every few weeks, one of them forwards me the latest outrage perpetrated by such anti-Israel mouthpieces as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the like.
It is bellyaching of the absolute worst sort, charging that absolutely every criticism of Israel amounts to stunning anti-Israel bias. The messages provide subscribers with talking points that should be sent to each week’s offending member of the lamestream media:
- The Times’ constant criticism of Israel is unwarranted and unprofessional.
- The news pages, most especially page one, should be reserved for actual news.
- The New York Times’ code of ethics requires impartiality; readers demand and deserve it.
- Israeli leaders have repeatedly offered peace but Palestinian leaders have repeatedly rejected even negotiations.
- Stone throwing attacks can and have injured or killed many Israeli civilians and servicemembers.
- Barbaric acts of terrorism targeting civilians must not be equated with the legitimate rights of a democratic nation state to defend its citizens from such attacks.
There are even suggested tweets:
- Hey @nytimes, quit picking on #Israel. #NYTimesSmearsIsrael @CAMERAorg
- #Israel deplores violence, #Palestinian leaders foment it. Cover that @nytimes! #NYTimesSmearsIsrael @CAMERAorg
- Why do Israeli apts get page 1 coverage, @nytimes, but not Arab apts? #NYTimesSmearsIsrael @CAMERAorg #Israel
- Hey @nytimes, why humanize terrorists but not their victims? #NYTimesSmearsIsrael @CAMERAorg #Israel
The biases and inaccuracies that CAMERA routinely point out revolve around things like, “The reporter didn’t talk to enough pro-Israel people”; “This person, who wasn’t consulted, would have said something different”; “The op-ed author supports divestment”; “This author has said negative things about Zionism”; “The Palestinians did something bad thing, but it wasn’t covered in this article”; and, of course, “Readers of this piece who don’t know better would think that this is the complete picture of the Arab/Israeli conflict but it isn’t.”
The problem is almost never something like, “This information is blatantly false; Israel did not do the bad thing that is reported here.”
As a result, whenever I receive these email updates about the nefarious reporting in such pro-Palestinian rags as the New York Times, the effect is actually to make me less sympathetic to the concerns of CAMERA and the Israeli government (on whose behalf this “media watchdog” is constantly yapping).
As I told an audience of middle age and elderly Jewish men at what has got to be my least popular lecture ever — part of a local B’nai B’rith group’s luncheon series — the best way to determine if criticism of Israel stems from bias or anti-Semitism would be for Israel to immediately freeze settlement construction, stop violating international humanitarian law, and agree to Palestinian statehood.
If there are still a bunch of complaints about Israel after that, then I’ll subsribe to CAMERA’s email listserv and shout about bias too.
CNN broke the news on Sunday of a guilty verdict in a rape case in Steubenville, Ohio by lamenting that the “promising” lives of the rapists had been ruined, but spent very little time focusing on how the 16-year-old victim would have to live with what was done to her.
In case anyone wonders what rape culture is all about.
This photo, along with the heart-rending story of the death of 11-month-old Omar Mashhrawi, ran in mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post and the BBC last November.
The baby’s death was attributed to Israeli airstrikes and suggestions that Hamas rockets might have been at fault were roundly dismissed:
Despite the evidence pointing towards an Israeli air strike, some bloggers have suggested it might have been a misfired Hamas rocket.
But at that time, so soon after the launch of Israel’s operation, the Israeli military says mortars had been launched from Gaza but very few rockets.
Mortar fire would not cause the fireball that appears to have engulfed Jehad’s house.
Other bloggers have said that the damage to Jehad’s home was not consistent with powerful Israeli attacks but the BBC visited other bombsites this week with very similar fire damage, where Israel acknowledged carrying out what it called “surgical strikes”.
As at Jehad’s home, there was very little structural damage but the victims were brought out with massive and fatal burns. Most likely is that Omar died in the one of the more than 20 bombings across Gaza that the Israeli military says made up its initial wave of attacks.
Omar was not a terrorist.
Last week, though, a report issued by the UN Human Rights Council confirmed that it was a Hamas rocket, not an Israeli airstrike, that caused the baby’s death:
“On 14 November, a woman, [an] 11-month-old infant, and an 18-year-old adult in Al-Zaitoun were killed by what appeared to be a Palestinian rocket that fell short of Israel.”
It’s critical to keep in mind the way in which death and destruction is routinely used to further someone’s agenda. In this case, more important than figuring out what actually happened, the Post, the BBC, and even Human Rights Watch immediately made this terrible story the centerpiece of their broader criticism of Israel and dismissed any blame that might fall to Hamas.
Of course, while many Israelis and their supporters are now feeling vindicated, it’s also crucial to remember that these people and many others like them still died. And that many more will likely die as a result of the rockets and airstrikes routinely and cavalierly unleashed by parties to this conflict.
Israelis, Palestinians, and their supporters around the world act as though this is some sort of game that one side can win if only enough people come over to their side; with each death, whether it’s a baby or a grandparent, it’s pretty clear that no one’s winning.