MSNBC weekend show host Chris Hayes made some comments about heroism and the military on Sunday. He said:
“I feel… uncomfortable, about the word [hero] 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, you know, 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 has since apologized. Personally, I take Hayes at his word that he did not intend to insult American soldiers and veterans. I think he was trying to make a point about militarism and war in general, but said it poorly. I think it’s certainly a legitimate discussion to have and Memorial Day
I would agree the word “hero” is over used. Not everyone who puts on the uniform of the US military can be called a “hero”. That’s why the military awards specific medals for various deeds in battle, everything from a Purple Heart for being wounded to the Medal of Honor. Those who make the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty are unquestionably heroes and are honored as such. To call all American soldiers “heroes” uses the same moronic logic that calls all American soldiers “murderers”. All deeds by individual American soldiers should be judged individually on their merits. However, everyone who wears the uniform of the US military and performs their duties honorably deserves respect and admiration. Most importantly, this paragraph is just solely my personal opinion and I realize that everyone has their own opinions about heroism.
We should have a discussion about when the US should use force, how it should be done, and under what circumstances. More importantly, this discussion about our military and its role and deployments in the world should be an adult discussion. That means pro-war advocates should stop calling anti-war supporters “unpatriotic” and accusing them of hating our soldiers, while anti-war advocates need to stop throwing words around like “chickenhawk”. These merely seek to delegitimize debate, which is the last thing we need when we’re talking about he most important issue for any nation, war and peace.