Heroism, Without Apology

Abby Zimet

What's Wrong With Our National Discourse 101: A sad media spectacle has played out after MSNBC's Chris Hayes, in a thoughtful, nuanced, eloquent discussion, expressed his personal discomfort with the loaded use of the word "hero" because "it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war." Hayes stressed the nobility of those who feel  "bound to all of us through this social contract" to give up their own agency and take on a military role, and made it clear he didn't want to "desecrate or disrespect the memory of anyone that has fallen." No matter: He faced a firestorm of outrage from tiresome, mindlessly-rah-rah military and right-wing commentators. Hayes finally issued an apology, explaining he was trying to explore the civilian/military divide and "the very real and very wrenching experience of this long decade of war." It was fully as thoughtful, nuanced and eloquent as the original. But he shouldn't have had to issue it.

"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."


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