http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/2 ... 50643.html
Chris Hayes Apologizes For Saying He Feels 'Uncomfortable' Calling Killed Soldiers 'Heroes' (VIDEO)
The Huffington Post | By Jack Mirkinson Posted: 05/28/2012 11:38 am Updated: 05/28/2012 6:17 pm
MSNBC's Chris Hayes sparked controversy and debate on Sunday when he said that he felt "uncomfortable" calling soldiers killed in action "heroes" because the term can be used to justify potentially unjust wars. He later apologized for the statement. (See apology below.)
Hayes spent a large portion of his Memorial Day-themed show on questions of war and of the people killed on all sides of military conflicts, from American soldiers to Afghan civilians.
After speaking with a former Marine whose job it was to notify families of the death of soldiers, he turned to his panel and, clearly wrestling with what to say, raised the issue of language:
I think it's interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words "heroes." Why do I feel so [uncomfortable] about the word "hero"? I feel comfortable -- uncomfortable -- about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don't want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that's fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I'm wrong about that.
Hayes' fellow panelists expressed similar discomfort. Linguist and columnist John McWhorter said that he would "almost rather not say 'hero" and called the term "manipulative," even if it was unintentionally so.
Hayes then said that, on the flip side, it could be seen as "noble" to join the military. "This is voluntary," he said, adding that, though a "liberal caricature" like himself would not understand "submitting so totally to what the electorate or people in power are going to decide about using your body," he saw valor in it.
The Nation's Liliana Segura then chimed in, saying that "hero" is often used to paint wars in a "righteous" way.
"These wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ... aren't righteous wars," she said. "We can't be so afraid of criticizing a policy."
Hayes' words caused a predictable furor with some. One Twitter user said that he was "uncomfortable with calling you an American."
Others, though, supported Hayes. "Questioning-rather than bolstering-orthodoxies is inherently controversial," blogger Glenn Greenwald tweeted. "That's what makes Chris Hayes' show so rare for TV-& so valuable."
UPDATE: Chris Hayes issued a statement on Monday apologizing for his comments:
On Sunday, in discussing the uses of the word "hero" to describe those members of the armed forces who have given their lives, I don't think I lived up to the standards of rigor, respect and empathy for those affected by the issues we discuss that I've set for myself. I am deeply sorry for that.
As many have rightly pointed out, it's very easy for me, a TV host, to opine about the people who fight our wars, having never dodged a bullet or guarded a post or walked a mile in their boots. Of course, that is true of the overwhelming majority of our nation's citizens as a whole. One of the points made during Sunday's show was just how removed most Americans are from the wars we fight, how small a percentage of our population is asked to shoulder the entire burden and how easy it becomes to never read the names of those who are wounded and fight and die, to not ask questions about the direction of our strategy in Afghanistan, and to assuage our own collective guilt about this disconnect with a pro-forma ritual that we observe briefly before returning to our barbecues.
But in seeking to discuss the civilian-military divide and the social distance between those who fight and those who don't, I ended up reinforcing it, conforming to a stereotype of a removed pundit whose views are not anchored in the very real and very wrenching experience of this long decade of war. And for that I am truly sorry.http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/05/2 ... hris-Hayes
Tue May 29, 2012 at 08:22 AM PDT
Stand Up For Chris Hayes
Right now Chris Hayes is receiving a river of shit because in a very heartfelt message, he said that he had trouble thinking of all fallen members of the military as heroes. I have no such trouble - to put it bluntly, dating back to Viet Nam, I have known many who have fallen in wars, and they were anything but heroes. Some that I can think of, came home on leave from Viet Nam bragging about how many innocent women and children they killed. They carried body parts of those they killed as kind of a trophy, made into tobacco pouches, etc. When they returned to Viet Nam, some of these people were killed. They were not heroes.
Certainly the U.S. Calvary that killed American Indians and stole their land, were not heroes; as well as members of other units that stole half of Mexico from the Mexicans. We can say they were brave and courageous; most were heroes; but not all.
I find it very troubling that someone with the integrity of Chris Hayes is called out for expressing his opinion, and not walking in lock-step with everyone else. It seems that since 9/11, we are almost in another McCarthy era, where if one expresses a contrary opinion, they are declared a traitor and must apologize. I was warned about a country such as this when I was growing up; however that country was Russia, not the United States.
I love President Obama to death and will be sickened if he losses; but it concerns me that even under President Obama, it seems as though we are entering a police state. I fear to think what would happen if the right wing took control of all the branches of government.
We are a military country, and we are so conditioned into it; that we don't even realize it. Look at the movies that are made, look at the commercials on t.v. If you watch closely it is amazing how many have a military theme. Last Fourth of July I went to a parade. There were 160 units in the parade. I kept track, and over 100 units had a military theme. I don't know if there has ever been another military country like this one; and a country where we are afraid to say even one word of dissent for fear of being accused a traitor.
There are two people in my life who I am extremely close to and love very much. They both went in the Marines. Now, I don't even feel like I know them. They have been brainwashed to such an extent that one cannot even reason with them. It's scary and it's sickening. I realize that much of this has to happen to a person to have them perform in combat; but this is overkill.
One of them left again for another deployment. He told his son he was going to "kill bad guys." I'm sure that somewhere; someone on the "other" side, told his son he is going to kill bad guys. Both believe completely in what they are fighting for. So if many of our fallen military are heroes; does that make the members of the enemy military who have fallen, heroes as well? And what of the millions of innocent civilians who have been collateral damage? They too certainly must be heroes.
In our 236 years as a country, we have been in war 217 years. What a waste of human beings; many of whom would have lived to do great things. What a waste of the enemy; and what a waste of innocent civilians. Those are the most important losses; but also the immense waste of resources and money that could have been used to do so much good. There must be a better way. There has to be a better way. Enough is enough.
Let's hope at some point in the future, people will look back at us and say "what uncivilized idiots. I'm glad we found a better way."
President John Kennedy stated, "War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today." As a lasting tribute to all who have died on the fields of battle; let us stop current and future wars for the sake of our planet.
Originally posted to mcgoverngreatpatriot on Tue May 29, 2012 at 08:22 AM PDT.
Also republished by Group W: The Anti-War Left.