Issue. Captivity heroism. Heroism in degrees. Trumpeted opinions. What are the facts?
1. Does a military captive, who endures great hardship while doing his military duty to serve the nation; stand on equal heroic ground with another captive who a) similarly endures and does his military duty, but also b) undertakes additional great risk, even sacrifices self, to help others who are enduring with him. The issue is not new, see http://original.antiwar.com/giraldi/2013/05/29/john-mccain-war-hero-or-something-less/
Military heroism. Captive heroism. Heroism by the common measure; heroism by the exceptional measure. Which is John McCain?
2. Overview. What facts and analysis apply to the nature of the captivity heroism of Senator John McCain, now that He Who Trumpets Himself has raised the same issues as were raised back in 2008. Do a search for McCain military service. Why should anyone pillory the Trumpeter? Why not vet facts instead, and only then draw conclusions.
- Compare to the similarly situated Vice Admiral James Stockdale, now deceased, see http://www.usna.edu/Ethics/bios/stockdale.php Did either or both move beyond endurance and duty in captivity, to the level of altruism. What choices did each have, or make possible. What choices were chosen, and for whose sake.
- Sometimes choices depend on character, personality, and does a person control elements of that.ndurance with limited choice is also heroism, like the heroism of the person battling disease, for example.
- It always remains clear, however, that undertaking military service, performing duty under conditions of great hardship and risk, is itself heroic.
Compare the choices and records of John McCain and the now deceased Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, for example, both captive, both in Vietnam, same era, both endured great hardship. See http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/sto0bio-1.
Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, however, appears -- absent further McCain facts that may emerge -- to have put self in substantially further harm's way for others that were with him, and over and over again. Is his heroism, for whatever reason, in a different, and in a more worthy, realm. Is a presidential candidate who raises the issue to be vilified for doing so -- even when the issue is not new, just used to be more acceptable (see 2008) in political back-and-forth..
So far, McCain: McCain is Hero by the common measure. He enlisted, he served, he endured. Stockdale, however, is Hero by the exceptional measure. He accepted what was on the duty plate, was steadfast in it and lived even with such wounds; but also risked self and survival for the sake of others.
Hero by the exceptional measure.
Choice: Who had what choices, what choices did each see. What is the role of choice.
- This angle does not ascribe blame for not choosing altruism as a choice, because altruism that is not prescribed by military duty is a moral issue.
- What if a person is so incapacitated and over years, that no altruistic choices were possible?
- Fine. Still, even with limited choices, some do act beyond duty, beyond endurance and steadfastness. Of course endurance and duty heroes also are heroes just because they served, yes, but some rise to a different kind. X factor heroism..
Tentative conclusion: Clearly, anyone who signs up for the military and serves with honor, doing all that duty requires even under unspeakable conditions, especially if injured in the course, is a hero.
Nonetheless, there are heroes in that group who exceed that criteria. The heroes with extra credit ares those who risk self for others. As a proposal for weighing all the opinions in this Trumpeted debate, explore factual elements on your own before signing on to an enhanced degree of adulation for anyone.
Did the serviceperson risk self to act to improve conditions for or save lives of companions, others similarly situated. Did the serviceperson receive special treatment, ameliorating initial harsh conditions.
With that vetting focus, it is even possible to consider and sort views by groups otherwise not in my mainstream, such as the New Totalitarians *. Their research, however, may turn up information helpful to any vetting.
Heroes sort themselves when the ship goes down.
Heroism or not. When the great ship goes down: some self-preserve, others do base-bones duty, others help those in the context as well.
* See also
1. John McCain as a POW. Author: Gerald L. Atkinson, April 15, 2008. Note that McCain's father was an admiral, not a general, as I had earlier understood. This is not to endorse the group sponsoring the post; it instead is to emphasize that facts are to be vetted whoever raises them.
2. Issues of comparison of forms of heroism first raised in 2008: as to James Stockdale;
and as to another POW, tortured, Elizabeth Choy Elizabeth Choy? Vet her as well. To which category of heroism does she belong. Why is she virtually unknown.