Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hayes’s Heroes

Over the Memorial Day weekend, liberal commentator Chris Hayes suddenly found himself inside a proverbial hurt locker for expressing a nuanced opinion about America's overuse of the word "hero." While clearly stating that he meant no disrespect to the troops, Hayes opined: "I feel ... uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war" and that "we marshal this word in a way that is problematic." He's not wrong. But as Peter Beinart noted today, the "right-wing jingosphere responded [to Hayes] with the kind of analysis you’d expect to read on a bathroom wall." Hayes was called everything from "a parasite" to a fop whose "right to menstruate” was being protected by the very soldiers he deigns not to call heroes. Vile stuff. It's worth noting that the pundits hating on Hayes the loudest have something in common with him. None have ever worn a military uniform. If they had, they'd know that soldiers and marines do not consider themselves heroes or call each other such. As Esquire writer Stephen Marche rightly observed about the military mindset: "To be a hero is to do the heroic, to reach above the call of duty. The men and women returning this year are just less selfish and privileged than everybody else. They have done their job. In a previous era we would call them something else — normal Americans." Exactly.

(Pictured Above: Sgt. Alvin C. York, one of the most decorated American soldiers of World War I and the epitome of heroism.)

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