This Sounds Like a Bad Thing, But I Bet It's a Good Thing

Bob Herbert to Leave the New York Times:
Bob Herbert, a columnist for The New York Times Op-Ed page, is leaving the paper after nearly 20 years. ...In a message accompanying the announcement, Mr. Herbert, who is 66, said he was eager to move on to a new form of writing.

"The deadlines and demands were a useful discipline, but for some time now I have grown eager to move beyond the constriction of the column format, with its rigid 800-word limit, in favor of broader and more versatile efforts," he said. "So I am leaving The New York Times and the rewards and rigors of daily journalism with the intent of writing more expansively and more aggressively about the injustices visited on working people, the poor and the many others in our society who find themselves on the wrong side of power."

Andrew Rosenthal, editor of The Times opinion pages, said in the memo that he accepted Mr. Herbert's resignation with "great regret."

"He was often called 'the conscience of The Times,'" Mr. Rosenthal wrote. "We will miss him and wish him the best in his new endeavors."
When the Times announced its new paywall structure, I tweeted that I'd happily pay by writer, so I could keep reading Bob Herbert. Instead, I'll just follow him wherever he goes.

(Which, apparently, is a "soon-to-be-announced effort to help bolster progressive journalism." Tantalizing!)

There are a lot of people in the world whom I admire, in whole or in parts, but I don't have heroes. It seems such an unfair thing, to call someone a hero, to put someone on a pedestal and lionize them to the virtual point of dehumanization; such a terrible way to recognize the rarity of a person whose work and principles and decency are so abundant and meaningful that I aspire to follow their lead.

Instead of heroes, I have people, flawed people, who I respect, whose humanity I acknowledge as a fundamental part of what it is that makes them admirable in the first place.

After all, they live in the same shitty world that we all do, and have the same human foibles, but manage to be kind and wise despite the cultural cacophony of disincentives to be either.

To call someone a hero, it seems to me, steals them of the hard work they do to be good and replaces it with a distancing exceptionalism, which is really just a way of excusing ourselves from achieving the same goodness. So I don't have heroes.

But if I did, Bob Herbert would be on that list.

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