Monday, May 28, 2012

We don't need another hero

Inadvertently got caught up in the periphery of an internet outrage last night. Didn't have a clue what was going on, but after seeing five references in the first ten tweets in my timeline to some big pile on against Chris Hayes, I instinctively tweeted my support, just on general principle. I've been following him for long enough to know he would never do anything deliberately hurtful or insulting.

Discovered a fair number of insults from strangers in my mentions this morning criticizing my tweet. Then I got the skinny on what Chris actually said, and I was right. Chris merely made a nuanced remark about war heroes:
“I feel… 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, 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.”
Hero is such a loaded word. One might think of our fallen military troops as victims and still appreciate the sacrifice of life in service to their country. Indeed, Chris made that point too.
Hayes did acknowledge the other side of the argument, namely that there is no mandatory conscription and service is purely voluntary, therefore all those who choose to sign up and take heavy risks are heroes in their own right.
Chris raises a valid question. It's useful to ponder if the glorification of war contributes to mankind's proclivity to resolve differences with violence and all too often unnecessary death. And frankly it's always bothered me that we never really pay proper tribute to military troops who die long after they come home from the battlefront. A widely circulated statistic on the internet this week reminds us that more veterans of our most recent wars have died of suicide than combat. Yet no one proclaims them as heroes even though their deaths are equally attributable to their service.

I'm a life long pacifist. To me the best way to honor our war dead is to stop having wars. Granted not a realistic goal, but my preferred solution nonetheless. Which brings to mind this song, from whence I took the post title.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Blogger merlallen said...

I'm a vet, my father was a vet many family members are vets. I think the over use of the term "hero" cheapens it. I remember some captain who bailed out over Kosovo and made it back safe being called a hero when all he did was use his training to get back safe. He was called a hero and I thought then that the term was becoming meaningless. My grandniece is in Afghanistan, I love her dearly but when I picture a hero, it isn't her. And she is not protecting my freedom. No one in the military is protecting our freedom since the fall of the USSR. When I served on an anti-submarine frigate, the USSR was a threat, Afghan goat herders aren't.

9:34:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Well thank you for your service to our country Merl. Afraid this public conversation has ended with Chris's apology. But really, the more important conversation is how we're neglecting the people who make it home with hidden injuries and aren't being properly taken care of. And the homeless returnees. And the unemployed returnees. Wish the internets would get as outraged about that as they did about Hayes syntax.

12:01:00 PM  
Blogger merlallen said...

If you knew what I did on liberty calls you might feel silly thanking me for my service. haha

4:58:00 PM  
Blogger merlallen said...

what you said about returning vets is what worries me about Romney and Repubs running the VA. They want to cut medical benefits that my niece might need and I do need.

5:00:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Sorry, belated reply. What happens on liberty, stays on...

It seems likely if GOPers get control, we'll see services cut so they can give more money to their crony contractors for hardware they don't need and the Pentagon doesn't even want.

9:14:00 AM  

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