The Controversy on Heros & Memorial Day


The Question at the heart of the debate is frankly:

Are all of America’s fallen soldiers heroes?

Lemme Tell you what Happened

Chris Hayes made the remark on Sunday, the eve of Memorial Day, on his show, “Up With Chris Hayes.”

“I feel uncomfortable about the word hero because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war,” Hayes said.

He added that “there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism, you know, hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers,” but that “it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic.”

Question of Language

Chris Hayes has issued an apology to stem backlash from his comment. But I feel his statement wasn’t an attempt to dishonor our troops as much as it is to question the how we use language, and what are the subsequent social implications of how we use the word hero. Hence the words:

I feel uncomfortable about the word hero because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war

In the American media, one is either right or wrong there isn’t such a thing as discussion to learn something. I am for open discussion of anything provided we come with open minds, if we comes with empty cups not one already filled.  Another thing I have noticed is that the media tends to take one line on sentence or one small part of the whole discourse and sensationalizes that. We never really talk about the context of the whole speech.

Getting Down to it

I want to post the statement again,

It is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the word hero. Why do I feel so uncomfortable about the word hero?” he said. “I feel uncomfortable with the word hero because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. And I obviously don’t want to desecrate or disrespect the memory of anyone that has fallen. Obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is tremendous heroism. You know, hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers, things like that. But it seems to me that we MARSHAL this word in a way that’s problematic, but maybe I’m WRONG about that.”

To me this sounds like someone externalizing thoughts, trying to encourage conversation to come to conclusion that he isn’t sure of. The main issue is the MARSHALING of the word “hero”. There are some points to consider that are important to social discourse:

  1. If I volunteer to go into an extreme situation as oppose being thrust into it like for instance the Parisians barbers, taxi cab drivers, etc who came together to stop the German advance into Paris in I think WW1 am I a hero. I have applied to the military and won an ROTC scholarship, I didn’t accept at the time, but the military is spoken of as  a career. There is training there  internship. Wars are not spoken of as operations, highly technical procedures involving superbly trained individuals, war is different, it isn’t an operation. PTSD (post tramatic stress disorder) in some cases can be considered an occupational hazard – I’m stating thing to talk about the social language used now for war. One gets paid also for being a soldier. There are benefits and a retirement package etc.
  2. How many of the wars soldiers fought and died in were to address a direct threat to the people and sovereignty of the United States. In the cold war everything was done to stop the spread of communism communism is a threat to freedom and democracy. it was a war sort of between two superpowers THE US and USSR for dominance on the international setting. Russia was our former ally in WW2. we fought Vietnam not because the Vietnamese  threatened us. I feel we fought them for the un-tapped rubber resources and to sabotage Soviet aspiration not because Vietnam was a direct threat to any American City.The Mexican–American War, AKA the First American Intervention, was an armed conflict between the United States of America and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas, which Mexico considered part of its territory despite the 1836 Texas Revolution. This  operation didn’t seem so much an operation to protect our freedom.

But I will; stop there because the article by  The Atlantic Asks much better questions and I am busy with work.  These are questions we should answer once and for all to have a  fulfilling social discourse. These are not questions to disparge the work of our soldiers  but to enter into the arena of public discourse and learn from 209 years of war in America

Questions from the Atlantic

1) Are all American war dead heroic because, if nothing else, they had the courage to volunteer for service knowing they might ultimately give their life for their country? That seems heroic to me. But if they’re all heroes, does it follow that everyone in the military is a hero? Why is dying necessary? And if everyone who volunteers is a hero, what about the guys who would go AWOL if sent to fight, or who assault their commanding officer, or who run away in combat? What about the ones who are dishonorably discharged? Was Bradley Manning a hero? Had Lynndie England died in Iraq, would she have been a hero?

2) What about people who volunteer for foreign armed forces? Are they all heroic? Or does it depend upon their country? If an American helping to liberate Libya would’ve been a hero had he died in action, shouldn’t the Germans from NATO engaged in the same conflict be heroes too? What about the Islamic fundamentalists fighting alongside NATO? Heroes?

3) What about the morality of the cause? Does anyone think brave Nazi soldiers during the World War II era were heroes? How about the soldiers in Stalin’s army? Does the nature of the mission matter, so that a Soviet soldier who died liberating a death camp was a hero, whereas another who died while ravaging German civilians he was ordered to take revenge upon isn’t? There’s this reality to confront: if bestowing the title hero has nothing to do with the rightness or wrongness of the cause or mission, we’ll have to grant the honorific to individuals who took part in deeply immoral acts… and yet, if the mission does matter, do we really want to deny the heroism of a GI who jumped on a grenade to save his platoon, even if we think the platoon’s presence in country X was immoral? It’s a confounding choice.

4) Speaking of jumping on grenades, isn’t “hero” often invoked in common parlance as if it means even more than serving and dying? For example, when we hear someone described as “a World War II hero,” don’t we expect that he did more than fall overboard and drown en route to the D-Day invasion? Don’t we assume from that adjective that he undertook some dangerous mission, or distinguished himself in combat, like the younger Bailey brother in It’s a Wonderful Life? Were the average American to watch From Here to Eternity, would he or she call Robert E. Lee Prewitt a hero?

5) And say, for the sake of argument, that all American war dead are heroes, strictly defined, but that the word and its emotional resonance is being manipulated by advocates of an imprudent war. Is it better to give soldiers an honorific they deserve, consequences be damned, or to withhold an honorific they deserve to prevent future soldiers from needlessly dying?

 

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2 comments

  1. Some answers to a “question of language”: (from the post at the link: MSNBC Host ‘Uncomfortable’ Referring to Fallen Troops as ‘Heroes’, sfcmac.wordpress.com)

    No suga, just a whopping spoon of straightforward medicine.

    Just in time for Memorial Day, we get to hear an MSNBC assclown say how “uncomfortable” he is describing fallen troops as “heroes” because you think it makes it “rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war”. Last I checked, the current war was started by rabid muzzie zealots who took almost 3000 lives on this soil and have taken thousands more world wide, in the name of “Islam”. Former Soldiers and war veterans, as well as those still serving, know the job is dangerous when we enlist. We don’t think of ourselves as special but it takes someone of that caliper to readily go into harms way on behalf of this country. We don’t think of ourselves as “heroes”, but there are many troops, fallen and still living, who certainly deserve that honor.

    Hayes is part and parcel of a contemptible leftwing fringe that has a fundamental disconnect when you try to explain patriotism, service, and love of country. They just don’t get it, because they project their own motivations onto those who serve in the military. They can’t fathom concepts like Duty, Honor, Country, not to mention the idea of giving something back to the nation that’s given so much to every one of us. While most of America takes a pass, only a few raise the right hand.

    And yeah: “One gets paid also for being a soldier. There are benefits and a retirement package etc.” But like I always say, the average pay of a military enlisted person is about equal to a Congressman’s lunch tab.

    People far better than Hayes have gone to the enemy’s turf to fight brutal scumbags who would love to make him a eunuch for a new Caliphate. He’s an incredibly stupid, inarticulate stutterfuck with no clue.

    His head is anatomically proximate to his ass. While Hayes has a tough time referring to fallen troops as heroes, he had no such problem with John “Winter Soldier” Kerry, the antithesis of a real hero.

    Links:
    http://upwithchrishayes.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/12/08/9300972-everything-old-isnt-newt-again?lite
    http://sfcmac.wordpress.com/2008/02/08/ivaw-losers-to-host-winter-soldier-ii/

    Buffoons like Hayes can’t simply say “thanks”, without screwing it up.

    SFC MAC
    US ARMY (RET)
    Iraq War veteran

    Like

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