During the course of this “pandemic” and the self-inflicted crisis it has created, fewer words have received more of a workout than the word “hero.” Coming from a pre-9/11 generation, heroism has a certain meaning to me. This is what I think of when I think of heroism:
On Feb. 3, 1943, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester carrying 902 service men, merchant seamen and civilian workers was sunk in the cold Atlantic.
Through the pandemonium, according to those present, four Army chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness. Those chaplains were Lt. George L.
Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed.
Quickly and quietly, the four chaplains spread out among the soldiers. There they tried to calm the frightened, tend the wounded and guide the disoriented toward safety.
“Witnesses of that terrible night remember hearing the four men offer prayers for the dying and encouragement for those who would live,” says Wyatt R. Fox, son of Reverend Fox.
One witness, Private William B. Bednar, found himself floating in oil-smeared water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. “I could hear men crying, pleading, praying,” Bednar recalls. “I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.”
By this time, most of the men were topside, and the chaplains opened a storage locker and began distributing life jackets. It was then that Engineer Grady Clark witnessed an astonishing sight. When there were no more lifejackets in the storage room, the chaplains removed theirs and gave them to four frightened young men.
“It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven,” said John Ladd, another survivor who saw the chaplains’ selfless act.
As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four chaplains–arms linked and braced against the slanting deck. Their voices could also be heard offering prayers.
That night Reverend Fox, Rabbi Goode, Reverend Poling and Father Washington passed life’s ultimate test. In doing so, they became an enduring example of extraordinary faith, courage and selflessness.
Heroism doesn’t even have to be voluntary; there can be a compulsory aspect to it. Take, for instance, the foundering of the HMS Birkenhead off the coast of South Africa in 1852.
It was in the early hours of 26th February, approaching a rocky outcrop called Danger Point, some 180 km from Cape Town that disaster struck. With the exception of the duty watch, everyone else was tucked up asleep in their quarters. The watch were scanning the clear glowing waters ahead and the Leadman had just called “Sounding 12 Fathoms” when the Birkenhead rammed an uncharted rock.
The churning paddle wheels of the Birkenhead drove her on with such force that the rock sliced through into the hull ripping open the compartment between the engine-room and forepeak. Water flooded into the forward compartment of the lower troop deck filling it instantly. Hundreds of soldiers were trapped and drowned in their hammocks as they slept.
All the surviving officers and men who could, assembled on deck. Some of the soldiers stood barefoot dressed only in their night-clothes, others less lucky were naked and many with the injuries sustained as they clawed their way from the flooded troop quarters. The senior officer on board, Lieutenant-Colonel Seton of the 74th Royal Highland Fusiliers took charge of all military personnel. He immediately summoned his officers around him and stressed the importance of maintaining order and discipline amongst the inexperienced soldiers.
Distress rockets were fired, but there was no help at hand.
Realising the hopeless position they were in, the captain ordered the lifeboats to be lowered. Much of the lowering equipment would not function, due to a lack of maintenance and a thick layer of paint that clogged the mechanisms.
That night under a clear starry sky the great naval tradition of “women and children first” was established as eventually two cutters and a gig were launched and the seven women and thirteen children were rowed away from the wreck to safety.
The horses were cut loose and thrown overboard. Only then did Captain Salmond shout to the men that everyone who could swim must save themselves by jumping into the sea and make for the boats.
Lieutenant-Colonel Seton, the soldier’s commanding officer, quickly recognised that such a rush would mean that the lifeboats could be swamped and the lives of the women and children onboard would thus be endangered. He drew his sword and ordered his men to stand fast. The untried soldiers did not move even as the ship split in two and the gallant company slipped down into the waves.
The Birkenhead sank only twenty-five minutes after she had struck the rocks, only the topmast and sailcloth remained visible above the water with about fifty men still clinging to them. The sea was full of men desperate for anything that could float. Death by drowning came quickly to many of them, but the more unfortunate were taken by the Great White sharks.
But daily, we are barraged by the claim that healthcare workers are a new breed of hero. Every day my county government, in cooperation with a major healthcare corporation, pushes out stuff like this on the county Facebook page.
To be clear, I don’t know this person but just want to make the observation that getting up, going to work, caring for your family, and participating in the social/political life of your community (even if your politics are abhorrent and anathema to the founding principles of the nation and involve turning one of the three or four civilized counties in the godforsaken progressive sh**hole that is Maryland “purple”) is not heroism, it is something that adults have historically done. If you are in the healthcare field, working around people with infectious diseases is what you chose to do for a living. Don’t complain about doing your job and then claim to be heroic.
As the “public health emergency” has dragged on, we’ve been treated to all manner of self-proclaimed healthcare heroes trying to inspire us through their pluckiness.
Oh Yeeaaaah Covidness 🤣😆😂 pic.twitter.com/e2beTtMGfR
— Sammy Luquion (@luquion) December 22, 2020
They said it was selfish of us to spend Christmas with our families. pic.twitter.com/5G23RNr0Ap
— anonymous patriot 🇺🇸🇺🇸🇺🇸 (@anonpatriotq) December 27, 2020
Nice to see those supplementary payments hospitals get for classifying heroin overdoses and gunshot-riddled gangbangers as Wuhan virus cases are being well used on staff overtime.
They have hectored us with their self-righteousness.
I have worked for 37 straight hours, covered ICU and nephrology call overnight, looked after three dialysis units, 10 dialysis shifts and the hospital kidney service. In return, I ask you to wear a mask, zoom Christmas dinner and pretend New Year’s eve is June 31st. Please? pic.twitter.com/sUv8Tn2hiR
— Darren Markland (@drdagly) December 23, 2020
Dude, I don’t think your insurance company, even in a pseudo-country like Canada, is going to want to read this because treating patients while sleep deprived is the height of professional irresponsibility. I was going to add “f*** you and your doofus mask,” but I won’t because that would be wrong.
They have rolled their eyes while telling us we are incapable of performing a risk assessment that we a) do every time we get into a motor vehicle and b) which is our God-given right as free men and women:
This is for the COVIDiots that try to sound smart by constantly bringing up the “survival rate” as their excuse to be selfish pic.twitter.com/QN9AAseDqv
— Icculus The Brave (@FirenzeMike) December 26, 2020
How about we try this example. You have 100 Skittles. One of them has a few poisonous molecules in one area (survival rate is 99.9-something for just about anyone without a bucketload of comorbidities). You are asked to take a tiny nibble off one Skittle in order to bring your life back to what it was before this bullsh** set in. If you don’t get the poisonous molecules, you can eat the whole jar with no ill effects, AND you can’t give the virus to anyone else because you now have immunity. Would you take the risk?
None of that is quintessentially heroic behavior. Rather it is churlish, condescending, and self-beclowning.
Now, as the Wuhan vaccine starts being issued, we are seeing a lot of other non-heroic behavior.
The first level of this anti-heroism is prioritizing a population for vaccination based on their occupation rather than their risk of injury or death (read CDC Is Literally Trying to Kill Granny by Using Critical Race Theory to Decide Who Will Get Wuhan Virus Vaccine).
Second, because the people most at risk from #Covid (80 and over in assisted living facilities) die so frequently in any case, a lot of them will die shortly after being vaccinated even if the vaccine doesn’t do them any harm (and it may). This obviously will look bad…
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) December 26, 2020
And finally vaccinating the “right” (old/sick) people first is kind of lose-lose for vaccine- and policymakers. It may bring death counts down fast – so fast the epidemic will seem defanged very quickly and the pressure for mass vaccinations and other measures will fade….
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) December 26, 2020
So yeah, better to take our time with those over-75s and let the epidemic take its course. After all, everyone wins if we all get vaccinated – especially Moderna executives!
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) December 26, 2020
The fact is that if you are a healthcare worker, you’ve either survived the Wuhan virus by now or your odds of getting it via workplace exposure approach zero. The only logical distribution is the one that we’ve always used, which is that high-risk people are first in line for vaccines. We don’t make that choice based on your race, ethnicity, or perceived value to society. This is particularly critical when the people making the decision to prioritize health care workers are, in effect, placing themselves at the front of the line. This is not what heroes do.
When the vaccine process starts, we find this: Hospital Workers Start to ‘Turn Against Each Other’ to Get Vaccine.
At NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, one of the most highly regarded hospitals in New York City, a rumor spread last week that the line for the coronavirus vaccine on the ninth floor was unguarded and anyone could stealthily join and receive the shot.
Under the rules, the most exposed health care employees were supposed to go first, but soon those from lower-risk departments, including a few who spent much of the pandemic working from home, were getting vaccinated.
The lapse, which occurred within 48 hours of the first doses arriving in the city, incited anger among staff members — and an apology from the hospital.
“I am so disappointed and saddened that this happened,” a top executive at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, Dr. Craig Albanese, wrote in an email to staff, which was obtained by The New York Times.
At some major hospitals in Manhattan, doctors and nurses have recalled scrolling through social media and pausing to make a snap judgment each time they saw a selfie one of their colleagues had posted of getting vaccinated: Did that person deserve to be vaccinated before they were?
“We feel disrespected and underappreciated due to our second-tier priority for vaccination,” a group of anesthesiologists at Mount Sinai Hospital wrote to administrators over the weekend.
Health care workers said rumors were proliferating in WhatsApp groups and amid the banter of the operating room. Stories have begun to circulate of a plastic surgeon who managed to get vaccinated early, of doses being thrown out at one Manhattan hospital because of poor planning. On group chats, doctors debate how — and whether — to try to get vaccinated ahead of schedule.
This is not heroic behavior. This is the behavior of pathetic, frightened people who value nothing in society more than their own personal safety. These are people who are not willing to abide by a distribution schedule that already unfairly favors them above the elderly and infirm who are at a very high risk of dying if they become infected; they are demanding that they get put in the super-advantaged part of the queue based on nothing more than their occupation.
Going to work, doing your job, taking care of your family, and serving others does not make you a hero. It makes you a responsible adult. Conniving ways to take advantage of a system that already favors you while others die and lecturing everyone else on how to live their lives, though, is a great indicator that you may be a sociopath.