Chris Hayes got in trouble with folks in the orcosphere for a comment he made about Memorial Day and the word “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.
As you can well imagine, that got a lot of tails puffed up over on the right, especially from the folks who gladly sent our troops to fight a war based on lies and fears. So of course he had to munch his words lest the chicken hawks at Fox News and the fearless troops of the 101st Fighting Keyboardists have his scalp.
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.
The lesson here is that if you aren’t speaking from first-hand experience, choose your words carefully. So I will defer to someone who does — John Cole at Balloon Juice, a veteran.
Not one thing he initially said offends me, and his point is worth understanding. The more we mindlessly cheer our war dead, the more likely we are to engage in more wars where we kill more of our kids for no good reason. Calling everyone a hero in a misguided war just makes it easier to make more “heroes.” That was the point Hayes was trying to make.
Hayes wasn’t shitting on our war dead. He was trying to keep us from making more dead 19 year old “heroes.” Being bold enough to voice that opinion is a far more noble tribute to our war dead (aren’t we always told they fought for our freedoms, including freedom of speech?) than all you fat fuckers like me in the heartland, grilling steaks, swilling beer, flying the flag, and high-fiving each other saying “HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY,” convinced you’ve done your duty because you have a yellow ribbon on your Lincoln Land Yacht or Mercury Marquis Medicare Sled.
Chris Hayes, voicing an uncomfortable truth, is more of a patriot than any of you assholes with your mindless patriotism gleefully cheering our kids off to pointless wars to die as… “heroes.”
What he said.