Tuesday, May 29, 2012

MSNBC host Chris Hayes Suffers Blowback from Hero Comment

MSNBC host Chris Hayes made an unfortunate comment on his Sunday morning show 'Up w/Chris Hayes' where he stated that getting killed in battle doesn't automatically make you a hero.

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.

Right or wrong it was a poorly timed comment that was sure to boomerang in today's American political climate. The backlash against his remarks has been on an Epic scale. Veterans of Foreign Wars [VFW], in addition to a throng of conservative bloggers and groups, slammed Hayes for being so conflicted about the term. 

Hayes has since issued this apology. 

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.

Bottom Line

Democratic Progress Blog supports Chris Hayes right to free speech, and agrees with his sentiment. We would however go further by adding that much of what our soldiers die for is not to protect the freedom of Americans, but rather to protect the profits of transnational corporations who could not care less about anybodies freedom other than their own. President Dwight Eisenhower warned of this on his last day in office, and it remains true to this day.


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