[Vision2020] Separating Icons From Heroes

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Sun Jun 28 12:35:03 PDT 2009

Separating Icons From Heros
By Bob Schieffer

A society is defined by what it honors, who it chooses as its heroes.

There is no better way to understand America than to reflect on the
holidays we celebrate or, better yet, to walk among the monuments of
Washington which are, after all, an index of American values.

The Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial
explain who we are because they tell the world who we admire, who our
heroes are. We put the World War II Memorial there so others would know we
appreciate a generation willing to risk its lives for those beliefs.

So what does the wall-to-wall commotion over the death of Michael Jackson
tell us?

Yes, we recognize his talent and that his music had an enormous impact.
When he was young (and I was younger), I took my children to one of his
concerts. It was a fine show.

But his tortured existence, his devotion to excess, celebrity, and, for
want of a better word, "weirdness" would seem most of all to be an example
of how not to live one's life.

Down through history, those who have produced great art or accomplished
great feats have not always been great people. The artist Caravaggio was a
murderer. Van Gogh was insane. Barry Bonds hit a lot of home runs.

There is nothing new about separating art from the artist, celebrating one
without necessarily approving the other.

But even as I tried to think of it in that way, the events of last week
still left me feeling uncomfortable about the whole thing.

Pop icons and American heroes are not one and the same.


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

"The Pessimist complains about the wind, the Optimist expects it to change
and the Realist adjusts his sails."

- Unknown

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