Ordinary Americans respond to emergencies and tragedies with grace and heart.

Across the street from slain MIT officer Sean Collier’s Teele Square apartment, several Tufts students have hung an American flag from their balcony to honor Collier.

“We found out this morning we lived across from him and hung the flag in support,” said Max Jaffe, 22. Jaffe and roommates Gary Grandonico and Tomas Isman, both 22, hung the flag. All are seniors at Tufts.

The street where Collier lived in Teele Square has been cordoned off by Somerville police officers. Collier was shot and killed in the line of duty on April 18 by men believed to be behind the Boston Marathon bombings.

Ward 7 Alderman Bob Trane, visiting the scene, said he had known Collier for several years. He said he was “shaken up” by Collier’s death, and that the 26-year-old carried himself like someone much older.

“He was wise beyond his years,” Trane said. “I was impressed with how mature he was for his age.”

We saw similar reactions from Boston to Texas, where people met emergencies head-on, offering to fight the fires and help the wounded. In Boston, marathon runners just kept running to the nearest hospital after the blasts, to donate their blood. They had just run 26.2 miles, a feat most of us will never match. But they kept running. An ordinary immigrant rushed toward the danger and helped strangers. In Texas, first responders all over the huge state reacted to the fertilizer plant blast in tiny West, Texas by immediately getting into their cars and driving hundreds of miles toward the stricken community. They drove into the night and directly toward the fire that at that point was still blazing away. Blood, water, food and clothing donation centers were set up in the Dallas area, out east in Bryan, south in Austin and points in between. Ordinary people just wanted to help, however they could.

This nation’s character has been severely tested this week. So has the character of many of our leading lights and talking heads. Emergencies this week have consistently brought out the best in ordinary Americans and first responders. The same cannot be said for the media or the “first reactors.” This story was on the New York Times’ web site, until someone realized how it showed sympathy for the two men accused of bombing Boston Monday, killing Sean Collier last night, and terrorizing the entire country today.

Hat tip to the Daily Caller for catching that headline. It has been a shameful week in media and social media. David Sirota infamously wanted the Boston terrorists to turn out to be white, for the politics, and got his wish — sort of. They’re white, but also Chechen and Muslim, and naturalized citizens. Michael Moore was happy that he correctly predicted that the terrorists turned out to be men. Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert tried his hand at bowling. Twitter has been overwhelmed with idiocy and mediocy this week.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from this week, it’s that if there’s an emergency, rely on the burly, decisive ones around you and not those chattering about themselves in the peanut gallery, trying to score political points off it all. The first will give their life for you without hesitation. The second will watch you die and then turn your corpse into a political pinata, also without hesitation.