May 29, 2012
We're holding out for a hero
"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? 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."
As expected the backlash was swift and harsh. Many from the right accused Haynes of disrespecting the armed forces and those who lost their lives in service. Some even went further and questioned his patriotism, passing him off as a typical liberal who has weekly dinners with Mexican gay abortion doctors who eat marijuana brownies while watching PBS.
And as expected the backlash was unfair as well as typical. Nothing of what Haynes said was wrong, and is something I'm sure many have given serious thought to when they've heard the word 'hero' be passed around more times than a big busted stripper in a party of Japanese businessmen. The fact of the matter is when everyones' a hero, no one is. Heroes are few in a world where courage and cowardice are fickle and often traits everyone displays at some point. Yesterday's coward is often today's hero and vice versa.
The term 'hero' is one to be used sparingly. As most people who commit acts of extreme bravery, they'll be the first to tell you their not heroes, just ordinary people who reacted to an extraordinary situation. Heroes mostly exist in fiction; comic books, films, folklore, etc. Our country has had it's share of heroes, and will continue to do so, but not everyone who lost their life in war should be called one just for taking a bullet.
We've seen how the word hero can be used for propaganda purposes. It was apparent when General Lee first took the reigns of the Army of Northern Virginia, the Kaiser made good use of it when he had that great flying ace run the skies red with blood, and the US used the idea of hero worship to garner support for wars that were, and are, less than sound decisions by our policy makers. Pat Tillman ring a bell?
Do the honored dead of war deserve our respect and thanks for their service? Most certainly. Do they all deserve the same status afforded people like Audy Murphy? No. Should we idly sit by and let our authorities use the memory of our fallen soldiers as a battle cry for young people to sign up for the armed forces? Certainly not. Do I love America less than someone that believes all slain soldiers deserve the nation's highest military honor? Of course not. I would like to think that all those laid to rest in our national cemeteries died in a fashion worthy of a Homer poem, but reality says otherwise.
"He (Chris Haynes) thinks our soldiers are suckers and fools at best, brutal sociopaths at worst. At a minimum, he feels that honoring those who died for this country might encourage people to see that actually defending our country is a good thing. He's not quite ready to make that leap; after all, most progressives are ambivalent about this whole "America" concept, if not actively opposed to it." - Kurt Schlichter
Are fallen soldiers 'heroes?' MSNBC host wondered, now apologizes