Guess what? You're not a hero

But I’ve noticed a lot of this lately; and perhaps it’s not new. Every day there’s some story focusing on false heroes and pseudo-bravery masquerading as some valiant or defiant action. Not only on the political front, but in culture, where fake courageousness not only dilutes the genuine heroic actions of others, but is used to create the false impression that people are engaged in actions far more important than they really are. Bravery is not synonymous with “you agree with me.”

“In a Brave, Powerful Dissent, Justice Breyer Calls for the Abolition of the Death Penalty” reads the headline of another Slate piece from this summer. Is it really “brave” for a liberal judge on the Supreme Court, who faces absolutely no threat of blowback or risk to his livelihood, to take a standard liberal position? Isn’t it braver for someone, say Samuel Alito, to be the sole dissenter and argue an unpopular position completely out of step with public opinion? Being right, or wrong, doesn’t necessarily equate with fearlessness.

“Ahmed Mohamed Is the Muslim Hero America’s Been Waiting For,” says a piece in The Daily Beast. A boy pretends to invent a clock that looks sort of like a bomb. Teachers overreact. Family shops kid around as the poster child of victimhood. No one risks anything. The kid meets the president. A monarch offered the kid a scholarship. Is this really the Martin Luther King Jr. of American Muslims? Hero is not synonymous with “this person allows me to lecture you about how terrible you are.”