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Memorial Day Should Be Sacred Even When You Oppose War

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, who hosts a show that airs on Saturday and Sunday mornings, aroused no small degree of controversy today when, in the midst of a discussion about Memorial Day, he stated that he felt “uncomfortable” calling fallen soldiers heroes:

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and while many may be marking this occasion as a time for barbecuing with the family, it’s also an important time to reflect on the sacrifice of those who lost their lives serving the country. We like to remember them as heroes, men and women who risk everything to protect their fellow citizens, but on MSNBC today, Chris Hayes admitted he feels “uncomfortable” about doing that, suggesting the “hero” label gives us more rhetorical reasons to continue the wars.

Hayes observed that in much casual conversation about war and fallen soldiers, talk of heroism often comes up, and he doesn’t necessarily think that’s a good thing

“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.”

Columnist John McWhorter agreed with Hayes’ discomfort because the word “hero” and others like it can be used as “argumentational strategies” whether we are consciously aware of that or not. 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.

Michelle Goldberg, columnist for The Daily Beast, argued that the reason “hero” comes across as a loaded word is that it implies “they died in the pursuit of a worthy endeavor.”

Here’s the video, via Mediaite:

Now, on some level I will admit that there is merit in the argument that the term “hero” is tossed around far too loosely these days. Going back to the Ancient Greeks and the Romans, after all, “hero” has long been a term that was applied sparingly. That’s why the United States awards special honors, ranging from commendations to the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and the Congressional Medal Of Honor, to those who have distinguished themselves by exceptional action in combat. So, to say that everyone who has died in service to their country, or even just served their country, is a “hero” in the Greek/Roman sense of the word is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration. That is not, by any means, to denigrate the service and the sacrifice of anyone who has served. However, the word “hero” definitely used to mean something special and it has kind of been watered down over the years. After all, is the guy who scores the winning touchdown in the last minute of the Big Game really as much of a “hero”as the firefighter who just saved a child from a burning building? Perhaps we need new words to describe these things, but that’s a question for linguists.

I suppose the problem I have with Hayes’s comments, and with the comments of those who have been defending him online today, is that the objection to describing those who have died in service to their country as heroes isn’t based so much in a concern that it diminishes the true acts of heroism that have occurred, and will continue to occur in wartime as it is in the fear that acknowledging the sacrifices that these men, and women, have made would somehow be a political statement.  That strikes me as a deeply myopic, politically-obsessed, view of the world.  Disagreeing with the political decision to go to war should never, I would submit, be a reason to either denigrate or ignore the sacrifices that those who served in that war have made, which seems to be the clear implication of what Hayes and his fellow panelists were saying in this segment. Individual soldiers are not responsible for the decisions of those who sent them into battle, and it strikes me as incredibly callous to dismiss the sacrifices made by those who died in such endeavors.

I opposed the Iraq War. I think our continued mission in Afghanistan is a big mistake. But, holding those fighting the battle responsible for that would be a tragic mistake. They did not make the decision to go to war, and they have no control over when to end it. We have already dealt in our very recent history with an unpopular war and a group of veterans and war dead who, for far too long, were forgotten by their nation, we should not join the Chris Hayes’s of the world in doing that again.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. John Burgess says:

    I agree, Doug. No, not every veteran is a hero. Some are even war criminals. It’s not the criminals, however, who are being memorialized. The day is for the veterans who served with honor, some of whom went on to receive decorations, some of whom never got the distinctions they deserved.

    It’s really not asking a lot that one keep one’s mental reservations to oneself when dealing with emotionally charged issues. Sure, you have the right to express your opinion. But you run the risk of people’s thinking you churlish at best, a fool at worst.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  2. Gustopher says:

    Not all of our fallen troops are heroes. Some of them are just dumb kids who got in over their heads when trying to pay for college or find some way out of a ghetto and got killed along the way.

    I mostly think of the latter ones on Memorial Day.

    (and I think we need a special day to vilify our war criminals, so Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day dont get caught up in that)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 13

  3. DRS says:

    Semantic arguments like this are kind of irrelevant to real life. Let’s say they’re heroes. How does that help them get medical treatment once they’re home again? Does it ensure that mental health issues they may have are treated adequately? Does it mean we care that they’re employed again, that their families do not suffer financial hardship while they’re serving overseas?

    We’re great at blowing up helium balloons and throwing confetti at the airport when soldiers come home – but they tend to be those soldiers who didn’t lose limbs or are otherwise displaying injuries. We’re too squeamish to handle that kind of reality. And of course the visuals of honoring the returnees makes us look good too – which I personally think is the reason why we do it.

    So we eskew the heavy lifting of actually following through on society’s commitment to our heroes and settle for simply cheering and applauding, as if that cost us anything to do. We’re loading up the military with what we imagine to be our collective good points – patriotism, selflessness, strength, resolve – and then attack furiuosly anyone who doesn’t see to be genuflecting in front of that alter we’ve raised to ourselves.

    We don’t give a damn about our heroes unless we use them as a mirror to reflect our own self-image. They pay a high price in blood for that kind of vanity.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  4. G.A. says:

    Aramaic Bible in Plain English (©2010)
    “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  5. Nick says:

    I’m a noncombat duty veteran. My brothers, our dad, and our two uncles also served active duty.

    Glorification of the military has been used in this country to suppress opposition to the war. In case you don’t remember, just do a bit of research regarding those who said criticism of the Iraq war was wrong because it gave comfort to the enemy and thereby put the troops’ lives at risk.

    And isn’t it ironic that the folks who screamed loudest for the war are now screaming loudest to cut the social services networks that are going to be necessary to take care of the damaged lives produced by the little adventure?

    Glorification of the military, the exaltation of the ‘homeland’ as some sort of uniquely virtuous place, corporate empowerment and religious fundamentalism; mix them up and you have a really good start on a fascist society.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 2

  6. André Kenji de Sousa says:

    That´s why the relationship between the Military and the American Public is something bizarre. Since very few people among the population served(Even if the same public supports a war) everyone is afraid of criticizing anyone that did. Then, that is: send some hundreds of people to Iraq and pay lip service for them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  7. Ron Beasley says:

    These are people who have never been in combat as are most of those who are critical of what they are saying. I am a veteran – a Vietnam veteran and for most of that war there was a draft. But I don’t think that the draft is really relevant. When you are in combat you are fighting for one thing and one thing alone – to keep you and your buddies alive. Are you a hero when you throw yourself on a grenade? Of course you are, but you didn’t do it for country, freedom or Democracy – you did it to save the lives of your buddies. You will never form a stronger bond than you do with your fellow soldiers – that includes marriage.
    Should we recognize those heroes? Of course we should but we shouldn’t forget what was on their minds as they were fighting – survival.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 2

  8. “There is no greater love than this: that a person would lay down his life for the sake of his friends.”

    Laying down your life for your friends *is* love, but I don’t agree there is none greater. Don’t you think a greater love is to lay down your life for total strangers? Like the firefighters and transit police did on 9/11?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  9. Franklin says:

    People throw around a lot of rhetoric, sure. But if I was talking to the parent or spouse or a child of a soldier who was killed and they called their loved one a hero, it’s highly unlikely I would disagree, regardless of the exact circumstances.

    This is a good conversation, though. If we’re contemplating what exactly to call them, then maybe we’re contemplating whether it is worth it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  10. Radley Balko says:

    Doug:

    What specifically is it that makes them heroes?

    Is it their willingness to fight, kill, and die for a cause, even if it’s a cause they don’t necessarily believe in, or in a war they think is wrong?

    If that’s the case, aren’t all soldiers from all countries heroes? Were the soldiers we fought in the Pacific and in Europe during WWII heroes? Were Confederate soldiers?

    (The Mediate post you link to that criticizes Hayes actually uses the phrase “just following orders” when referring to U.S. troops, apparently without any sense of how that phrase is usually used.)

    I’m not trying to be smarmy here. But you either think all troops in all wars were heroes, regardless of for whom or what they were fighting, or you think there’s something uniquely heroic about agreeing to fight and kill for America, something that holds even if you think America is asking you to fight a war you think is wrong. Maybe there is such a value. But I’m just curious to hear you explain what it is.

    I’d also be curious to hear what you think about a soldier who, say, refused to go to Iraq because he thought the war was wrong, or illegal, or immoral. Is he a hero or a coward?

    One other thing: “Not necessarily a hero” ≠ “coward.” There’s miles of space between the two. I don’t think signing up for the military makes you a hero, any more than signing up to be a police officer does. But neither makes you a coward, either. And both cops and soldiers certainly can be heroes.

    Hayes’ point is that the word “hero” connotes a noble mission. I guess I just don’t see how this is even debatable. It’s precisely the reason why we don’t call Nazi soldiers or Iraqi insurgents heroes. They too were willing to fight, kill, and die for a cause. But because we find their cause objectionable, we’d never consider calling them heroes.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 1

  11. @Radley Balko:

    As I think my post makes clear, I think the use of the phrase “heroes” for all war dead may be a bit melodramatic at the very least.

    But I have to disagree with the idea that “hero” means “noble mission.” Having grown up in a family where military service was not uncommon at all, I can’t say that any of the veterans I’ve talked to considered the “nobility” of their mission at all, especially those from the era where military service meant getting drafted. For them, it was all about the unit they were assigned to and their buddies. Indeed, if you read through the commendations of those men who have been lucky enough to have been awarded the Medal Of Honor, you will find that their sacrifices involved the men they served with, not killing the enemy.

    Leaving aside all of that, though, I simply have to say that the entire discussion on Hayes’s odd little show, which I barely ever watch, was completely inappropriate given that we are marking a weekend of a holiday established nearly 150 years ago to commemorate and remember the sacrifices of those, for good or ill, died for their country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 13

  12. DRS says:

    So when would it be appropriate? Because it seems to me Memorial Day is a damn good time for us to look at ourselves and ask if we’re truly committed to our armed forces – all the way. No man left behind, remember?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 2

  13. @DRS:

    How about, at the very least, Tuesday?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11

  14. Doubter4444 says:

    Hey – This actually is a fascinating discussion, and a worthy one.
    When we are discussing weighted issues like this with out hyperbole and invective – when GA and Kathy can speak to each other about a substantive issue that has ramifications beyond the the actual article in had – that’s pretty good, and fitting that it’s happening this weekend.

    (Now I hope a bunch of people don’t come in here screaming that any comment that does not lionize a vet, diminishes him!)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  15. @Doug Mataconis:

    Leaving aside all of that, though, I simply have to say that the entire discussion on Hayes’s odd little show, which I barely ever watch, was completely inappropriate given that we are marking a weekend of a holiday established nearly 150 years ago to commemorate and remember the sacrifices of those, for good or ill, died for their country.

    Damn you, Chris Hayes, can’t you see you’re putting Doug in danger of having to confront the inconsistencies in his personal philosophy? How dare you! And on two days before Memorial Day no less!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  16. Stormy,

    Honestly, I usually would not be able to care less about Chris “Maddow look-a-like” Hayes and the few thousand people who watch his pathetic little show. But, once he starts dissing actual heroes, to hell with him.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 32

  17. @Doug Mataconis:

    Honestly, I usually would not be able to care less about Chris “Maddow look-a-like” Hayes and the few thousand people who watch his pathetic little show. But, once he starts dissing actual heroes, to hell with him.

    Doesn’t this comment violate the site’s comment policies?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 3

  18. M. Bouffant says:

    “Sacred?” Are we running a nation or a religion here?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 2

  19. M. Bouffant,

    No we are not, but on a holiday set aside to honor those who died I happen to think that there’s a certain amount of respect that ought to be observed by reasonable people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 9

  20. @Doug Mataconis:

    No we are not, but on a holiday set aside to honor those who died I happen to think that there’s a certain amount of respect that ought to be observed by reasonable people.

    Unfortunately, Doug is just making Hayes’s point here: the problem is that people like Doug want to use the military deaths as a form of well poisoning to discredit anyone who objects to American imperialism as “unreasonable”, “odd”, and “pathetic”.

    Haye’s only mistake was thinking the solution is to stop admiring the dead, when it’s really that we need to start publically shaming people like Doug that would reduce them to a rhetorical technique so he can maintain his well-cultivated state of denial.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 17 Thumb down 3

  21. Nick says:

    “Memorial Day should be sacred, even when you oppose war.”

    What are you getting at with your use of the word ‘sacred’? What do you mean, because that’s clearly the word driving your outrage at Hayes.

    Are you connecting Memorial Day and our war dead with some religious meaning? God help us if that’s your drift (pun intended).

    If a man or a woman dies in the pursuit of a misguided, destructive foreign policy, that’s a wasted life. You feel compassion for the loss of those left behind, but what is ‘sacred’ about their sacrifice?

    Hayes is spot on–the hero rhetoric is used to justify a militaristic culture.

    You want to be respectful to the fallen? Then recognize that the U.S. military is increasingly being used as a mercenary force in the furtherance of an empire–nominally American, but really corporate, and hence multinational. These troops are being sold the idea that their sacrifice is for their country, when really it’s for Exxon, and the Saudi Royal family, and others who have financial interests in our resource wars.

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  22. Nick says:

    War Is A Racket

    A speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC.

    Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said:

    “And above all, Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace… War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the people who have the courage to meet it.”

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4377.htm

    Hayes is simply noting that the over use of the word “hero’s” helps put that ‘stamp of nobility’ on our wars, makes them more ‘sacred’, and makes them more likely as a result.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 4

  23. But if I was talking to the parent or spouse or a child of a soldier who was killed and they called their loved one a hero, it’s highly unlikely I would disagree, regardless of the exact circumstances.

    Well, of course you wouldn’t, neither would I, neither would any person with an ounce of compassion! What does THAT have to do with talking about dead soldiers as heroes in any other situation?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  24. grumpy realist says:

    @Doug Mataconis: So when will we talk about this issue? Given the vitriol that is heaved at anyone who ever pipes up and asks “hey, why are we in this war anyway?” and “why is it only the middle-lower class and lower class kids who sign up for the military?”, maybe Memorial Day is the perfect day for us to stop and think. If we really want to honor their deaths, we want to make certain that we’re not just luring Americans to sign up to be cannon fodder. We spend more and more money on large shiny objects that go BOOM and less and less on the support of the actual Americans who go and fight. We need to treat American lives with respect, not just slap a pin on them and say “you’re a hero! Now go off and get yourself killed for the Glory of America!”

    This is why I’m cranky enough to insist that if we want to have a standing military then we should have a full draft, both sexes, no exceptions for college, no deferments, no special locations because you’re some politician’s son. Until the sons and daughters of the rich have an equal chance of getting killed in battle as the sons and daughters of the poor, it’s far too easy for people in power to pander to the War Hawks. You want a war, have your own kids fight in it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  25. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Stormy Dragon: i think we just found out why Doug typically abandons his own threads after posting three replies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  26. michael reynolds says:

    How about a different word: respect. I respect the men and women who serve in the military. I respect the professionalism, I respect the dedication and the courage. But I think the word ‘hero’ seems inapt when applied across the board. I respect those attributes whether or not I believe that in any particular conflict they are defending my liberty.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 3

  27. anjin-san says:

    John Lennon once said something along the lines of “I understand that we have war heroes. What I don’t understand is why we don’t have any peace heroes.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  28. Herb says:

    Two things:

    A) Why do you pay attention to MSNBC, Doug? Since they annoy you so much, shouldn’t you have developed some avoidance strategies by now? The History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens” show annoys the piss out of me. Which is why I don’t watch it.

    B) Memorial Day is not sacred. I know it’s set aside for remembrance, but this is what it is: One less day to work, one more day to BBQ. Or maybe a great time to hold a clearance sale. Or to open the amusement park.

    And yet, here’s this MSNBC dude “reflect(ing) on the sacrifice of those who lost their lives serving the country.” What a jerk, man….shouldn’t he be making a potato salad or something instead?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  29. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Now this is the Doug that we’ve all come to know (but probably not love).

    For the other Doug who wrote the original post–good job! You should have quit while you were ahead and not fallen prey to the ego of “evil Doug.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  30. Mr. Prosser says:

    Two fine writers kept me sane in Viet Nam, one was Joseph Heller with Catch-22 and the other was Bob Dylan who wrote Hero Blues. The last lines were: “When I’m dead, no more good times will I crave. You can stand and shout hero all over my grave.” We sang that a lot. Beasley is right, you try and stay with your buddies , remember those that didn’t make it and get on with life.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  31. Eric Florack says:

    @Gustopher:

    (and I think we need a special day to vilify our war criminals, so Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day dont get caught up in that)

    And who gets to chose which is which?
    You?
    (Snort!)

    To the rest, I offer this.
    -1-

    It’s always been a special day for me, because honoring our vets has always held special meaning for me; it’s a lesson my parents instilled very well, indeed. It was brought home to me, as I was recently looking at pictures from a trip we made through the Gettysburg PA area some years ago.

    It’s a particularly meaningful thing, when you’re standing on that field…. Something that goes well beyond the cold facts and figures about who died from what company, how old they were, or even where they were from. It’s more a feeling you get…. You can sense it… not unlike being at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, or visiting Arlington National Cemetery. I’m told Omaha Beach, and Pearl Harbor and many other sites are the same way. I’ve been at the funerals of firemen and policemen who died in their line of duty, and that was also remarkably similar.

    In each case, we’re dealing with places and concepts of death. But death alone doesn’t do it; doesn’t create that solemn atmosphere that is so unique to the above places. After all; there are lots of mass casualty accidents have happened over the centuries and their sites are well marked, and revered, or at least held apart, and yet, their impact doesn’t approach that of an Iwo Jima or a Pearl.

    Even under the shelter of the relative safety of the time that has passed since the events, as you stand in each place, you can still feel it; Lives were lost there that were willingly (And in the case of the civilian deaths at the towers, unwillingly) sacrificed toward a higher ideal.

    Our feelings and conclusions can be far different from what those lost experienced. Yet, their lives and their sacrifices still count for something. And the thing is, it doesn’t take much for us to out ourselves in their mindset.

    Think of it this way; Every single man who died at Gettysburg, at Normandy, at Pearl and all the rest, has meaning for us because each of them, had their own lives, just as we have our own lives. These people loved, they laughed, they cried. They had a favorite food, a favorite color, a particular bit of music, or of poetry stirred their souls, like none other, just like we, ourselves. Every bit as much as you and I love our lives, they loved theirs. Their lives were as precious to them, as yours is to you. Their loss was as keenly felt by their loved ones as yours would yours. And yet, they gave their lives up, for something they considered bigger than they were.

    I have a neighbor, whose father just recently needed a liver transplant. This neighbor willingly gave up part of his liver to be transplanted into his father. A noble action, certainly, commendable, and impressive. But with all respect to my neighbor, the choice to do that is comparatively easy to make. He knows and loves his father, and the sacrifice is fairly light by comparison.

    How much more noble is a sacrifice of one’s life for people that one will never meet? Well, the people we honor today, those in uniform particularly, but some who were not, gave of themselves for the benefit of people they would never know…. you and I, and countless others from many nations. If not for their sacrifices, you’d not be reading this, because I’d not have written it…. we’d be living in a very different world, possibly, one not nearly as good to us as it has been.

    Look upon those actions, those sacrifices, and know what you’re seeing is strength, courage, and nobility in measures that should not… can not, be ignored. It must be honored by us all; it was made, after all for our benefit.

    Think about that as we deal with the solemn proceedings for their day.
    -0-

    And I wonder if even half of you have a clue what I’m talking about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  32. James in LA says:

    There exists nothing “sacred” in the local universe. One can show respect for troops without naming them supernatural. If the troops were indeed sacred, they would not be lied into two wars, and forgotten once home. If they were sacred, we would be charging our client states $1 million per head per day for the risk.

    If they were sacred, our lexicon would not contain such things as Abu Grahib, waterboarding, secret renditions, Guantanamo Bay and homeless vets.

    If they were sacred they would get more than one or two days per year of empty platitudes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  33. Eric Florack says:

    @James in LA: Add reality to your mix, if you can, and recalculate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  34. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    And I wonder if even half of you have a clue what I’m talking about.

    You just can’t resist portraying yourself as a misunderstood victim, can you?

    That said, and acknowledged, that was a thoughtful post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  35. @grumpy realist:

    This is why I’m cranky enough to insist that if we want to have a standing military then we should have a full draft, both sexes, no exceptions for college, no deferments, no special locations because you’re some politician’s son. Until the sons and daughters of the rich have an equal chance of getting killed in battle as the sons and daughters of the poor, it’s far too easy for people in power to pander to the War Hawks. You want a war, have your own kids fight in it.

    Sending people off against their will to get killed just so you can teach their parents a lesson is more than just cranky, it’s evil. People, even people who are the offspring of the rich, are not just tools you can use however your like to acheive your policy objectives, even if they get destroyed in the process. And if you’re really comfortable advocating that, then there’s really no difference between you and the war hawks you’re criticize.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  36. Matthew says:

    The reason you are all the able to speak the way you do is because of all the soldiers who have fought for our freedoms and died for your rights and it sickens me to see you spit on the people who die for you. Frankly it’s disgusting and if you don’t think every soldier is a hero you’re a pig. Be ashamed of yourselves.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 21

  37. Herb says:

    @Eric Florack: I gotta agree with Al-Meda.

    Think about that as we deal with the solemn proceedings for their day.

    Win.

    And I wonder if even half of you have a clue what I’m talking about.

    Fail.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  38. Eric Florack says:

    @al-Ameda:
    A victim? Not hardly, Rick..

    No, I am quite serious, wondering if the concepts I’m talking about can possibly dent in the armor of witlessness, of anyone who can come up with lines like for example, James in LA did.

    Such folk seem to have seriously lost track of what peace is… as John Lennon did.

    Peace, real, lasting peace,is not merely the absense of war. It is not a product of disavowing war, or thinking peaceful thoughts.
    Nor is it the product of negotiated settlements. Negotiated settlements in the supposed interests of peace, bring war, almost invariably.

    Peace is the product of winning the war brought against you, with sufficient force to prevent any ideas of trying it again.

    Examples:

    World war II was the direct result of the negotiated settlement imposed following WWI.

    The current Korean troubles are the product of negotiating away our efforts in the original Korean War, and the resulting imprisonment of an entire nation. So far as I’m concerned north Korea is a great national shame to these United States for not having the courage to follow through on its objective. A shame brought about by those seeking peace, while not having a clue what real peace is. I wonder if the people currently living in North Korea consider themselves to be living in peace.

    Consider, on the other hand our victories over Japan and Germany and how decisive they were , and how good and peaceful an ally each has been following that victory. IN each of those cases, those fighting those wars to their successful conclusions created situations hwere former enemies are turned into steadfast friends. They are therefore the bringers of peace.

    Like it or not, that’s the reality.

    And so, also, is Lennon’s question about heroes of peace answered.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  39. Herb says:

    @Matthew:

    “if you don’t think every soldier is a hero you’re a pig. Be ashamed of yourselves.”

    I never got this kind of stuff. It’s like, “You just told me they died for my freedom, now you say I have no freedom?”

    For what’s it worth, my brother was a soldier. He’ll be the first to tell you he was no hero. Just doing his job, serving his country. My Mom, though, now she’s a hero.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  40. Andre Kenji says:

    “World war II was the direct result of the negotiated settlement imposed following WWI.”

    That´s why I say that Americans do not know war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  41. @Matthew:

    Frankly it’s disgusting and if you don’t think every soldier is a hero you’re a pig.

    Yeah, well then oink you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  42. Eric Florack says:

    @Herb

    :He’ll be the first to tell you he was no hero. Just doing his job, serving his country.

    In truth, I suppose that to be true about any hero… at least those with any degree of modesty whatever. I’ve known a few in my 50 plus years, and to me, based on those exposures, it seems to be part of the makeup of the real hero.

    Does anybody remember, in contrast, John Kerry changing his middle name to “served in Vietnam”?

    I assume the point is made.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 12

  43. @Eric Florack:

    So all soldiers are heroes, but only if they’re Republican.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 2

  44. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    Back in the summer of last ’68, I was doing my military service down in Texas, which, after the Bronx, is the place I’d most like to be from. For several months, I was assigned to the base’s funeral detail. We would provide pallbearers and a rifle squad for those requesting military funerals in the local area.

    Military-wise, it wasn’t bad duty. On the days when we weren’t scheduled for a funeral, we would spend several hours practicing our “drill & ceremonies” and a couple more squaring away our uniforms and equipment. On funeral days, we would head out as early as necessary on a 44-passenger bus, often in civilian clothes or else fatigues with our first-class uniforms and equipment in tow. Often we would change into our duty uniforms at the funeral home, once in the casket display room, or on the bus itself.

    It being Texas and the Viet Nam war being in full swing, we often had several funerals a week to perform. There was a certain spectrum from the World War graduates through the Viet Nam casualties. The former might involve a local veterans’ group and an afterward BBQ or such. The latter were somewhat more emotionally raw as most of us were facing our own deployments in the near future.

    Two funerals of the latter sort have stayed with me through the years. The first was of a young Private First Class who had been MIA for several months before his remains were recovered. I was on the pallbearer squad that day and when we went to lift the casket, it almost flew up in the air. There was so little of the young soldier left that we totally overestimated the weight we were lifting and almost looked decidedly unprofessional.

    The other was that of a Negro Specialist 4th Class. I was in the rifle squad that day. In the rendering of military honors, there is a momentary pause between the end of the (21-gun) rifle salute and the beginning of the playing of “Taps”. It is a moment of profound silence in most cases. During that moment, the young soldier’s mother gave out a yowl from the depths of her grief that so startled me that I almost dropped the rifle out of my hands. That yowl echoes within me still.

    I’ll readily admit that, as a result of my experiences, I became much imbued with a sense of duty and respect to and for our fallen. Hopefully, today, when our media do their reporting they will show some of the same and let “Taps” be played out in its entirety. It would be nice for a change.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  45. PogueMahone says:

    @Eric Florack:

    This is what annoys me most about Memorial Day discussions. It will inevitably lead to someone telling others how Memorial Day ought to be celebrated. Then, of course, some jack-ass will show up and claim to be more patriotic than thou, and they know what Memorial Day is and you don’t.

    And I wonder if even half of you have a clue what I’m talking about.

    See?

    Be fair, Bithead, most of us rarely have a clue as to what you’re talking about.
    But that is your fault, isn’t it? See what I mean…

    A victim? Not hardly, Rick..

    In addition to your flawed reasoning…
    “Not hardly”!?! You see your double negative there? Do you understand what that does?
    Everyone makes mistakes from time to time. And to call out anyone on misspellings or grammatical errors is often uncalled for. But you!! Your comments are almost always shoddy. Grammar, spelling, syntax, organization – they are always poorly considered in your writing.
    I know I’ve pointed this out to you years ago. Obviously, you are either incapable or unwilling to improve. Or, you just don’t care. And if you don’t care about what you write here, then why should we?

    But back to the topic.
    I don’t need you, or anyone else, telling me just how patriotic you are. I don’t need the likes of you telling me just how much you get what Memorial Day is, and how I don’t.
    So you can take your holier than thou bullsh!t and … well… I shouldn’t need finish this sentence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  46. Eric Florack says:

    @Stormy Dragon: You should really stop trying to be a moron. It’s a needless effort.

    @PogueMahone: Does the common usage of “not hardly” really confuse you so?

    Or were you, as I suppose, simply looking for a target for an attack you already worked up?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 8

  47. Eric Florack says:

    @11B40:

    The other was that of a Negro Specialist 4th Class. I was in the rifle squad that day. In the rendering of military honors, there is a momentary pause between the end of the (21-gun) rifle salute and the beginning of the playing of “Taps”. It is a moment of profound silence in most cases. During that moment, the young soldier’s mother gave out a yowl from the depths of her grief that so startled me that I almost dropped the rifle out of my hands. That yowl echoes within me still.

    I know the feeling. Well spoken, sir.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. Peace is the product of winning the war brought against you, with sufficient force to prevent any ideas of trying it again.

    This argument is like death penalty supporters use when they say that the death penalty works because it prevents the person being executed from ever killing again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  49. … is like THE ONE death penalty supporters use…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  50. Eric Florack says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    This argument is like death penalty supporters use when they say that the death penalty works because it prevents the person being executed from ever killing again.

    Perhaps true. Yet, I note you bypass the examples given.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  51. But, once he starts dissing actual heroes, to hell with him.

    He did not “diss actual heroes.” How can you say both that the word “heroes” is overbroad when used to describe all Americans who serve in the military, AND that Chris Hayes is ‘dissing actual heroes” by expressing uneasiness with using the word “heroes” to describe all Americans serving in the military?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  52. Eric Florack says:

    This is what annoys me most about Memorial Day discussions. It will inevitably lead to someone telling others how Memorial Day ought to be celebrated. Then, of course, some jack-ass will show up and claim to be more patriotic than thou, and they know what Memorial Day is and you don’t.

    And Pouge, at what point did I make such a claim? You do seem to have some insecurities that need attending.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  53. @Eric Florack:

    I did not mention the examples you gave because those examples are precisely the point of my analogy, Eric. Arguing that war brings peace because the particular enemy we’re fighting never challenges us again if we totally destroy them, is similar to the argument that the death penalty assures that the person being executed will never kill again. It’s the same argument, and it fails for the same reason. Is it that you want me to spell out that reason?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  54. “World war II was the direct result of the negotiated settlement imposed following WWI.”

    And the Cold War, with all its individual “hot wars,” was the direct result of the Allied victory in World War II. Your argument doesn’t even work on its own terms.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  55. The reason you are all the able to speak the way you do is because of all the soldiers who have fought for our freedoms and died for your rights and it sickens me to see you spit on the people who die for you.

    Not one American soldier who fought in Afghanistan or Iraq fought for my freedoms and rights. In fact, those wars led to and were accompanied by a massive attack by our own government on my freedoms and rights.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 2

  56. Eric Florack says:

    And the Cold War, with all its individual “hot wars,” was the direct result of the Allied victory in World War II.

    Ahhhhh no.
    The cold war was the direct result of not taking the advice of General George Patton and elimination the socilaist threat while we had the army there to do it with. Doing so would have saved millions of lives, all over the world, including the aforementioned Korea, and Vietnam, among many other such places.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 13

  57. PogueMahone says:

    @Eric Florack:
    And Pouge, at what point did I make such a claim? You do seem to have some insecurities that need attending.

    It was implied with this:

    And I wonder if even half of you have a clue what I’m talking about.

    As Herb noted, you were going along swimmingly until that last bit when you insulted your readers.
    But you couldn’t help yourself because you believe that you are more appreciative of sacrifice, more understanding of honor, more aware of the consequences and meaning service. In short, you believe that you are more patriotic than those for whom you’ve written this little tale.

    Of course, though, you wrote that to make you feel better about yourself. Otherwise, why insult the reader?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  58. The cold war was the direct result of not taking the advice of General George Patton and elimination the socilaist threat while we had the army there to do it with.

    Really. You mean, invade the Soviet Union?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  59. Eric Florack says:

    But you couldn’t help yourself because you believe that you are more appreciative of sacrifice, more understanding of honor, more aware of the consequences and meaning service. In short, you believe that you are more patriotic than those for whom you’ve written this little tale.

    If true, you didn’t help your position by proving my point for me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  60. steve says:

    I think Radley has the better of it here. I did not hear Hayes dissing anyone. I dont think we should call everyone who serves a hero, probably not even everyone who dies. When you sign up, you are agreeing to risk your life, so I dont find that a compelling metric. I guess I would let those who served with those who died make that judgment.

    Steve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  61. If true, you didn’t help your position by proving my point for me.

    How did I do that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  62. Dave says:

    @Eric Florack:
    The cold war was the direct result of not taking the advice of General George Patton and elimination the socilaist threat while we had the army there to do it with. Doing so would have saved millions of lives, all over the world, including the aforementioned Korea, and Vietnam, among many other such places.

    Ahhh, you gave yourself away. What a mindlessly facile reply that was. I’m a former member of the Marine Corps and I didn’t find Chris Hayes insulting at all. On the contrary, he seems to be wrestling with some of the issues raised by 2 recent long wars, 1 of which was unquestionably unnecessary and the other arguably so. Based on your comment “And I wonder if even half of you have a clue what I’m talking about,” I suspect you’re far more interested in reveling in your own self righteousness than thinking about what actually constitutes a hero. You do veterans a disservice by treating them as if they’re too delicate to consider such an argument in this day and age. Your failure to actually parse Hayes’s statements and instead just write an ode to those who died in battle while ignoring all the deeper issues actually presented speaks volumes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  63. anjin-san says:

    taking the advice of General George Patton and elimination the socilaist threat while we had the army there to do it with.

    Hmm. It is far from clear that our army could have defeated the Soviet army in Europe at that time. The Russians did the heavy lifting involved in defeating the Wehrmacht, and they were formidable indeed. We would have almost certainly had to go nuclear to win such a war.

    Of course Eric is always very ready to pull the trigger when it comes to talking about someone other than himself doing the fighting and dying…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  64. anjin-san says:

    @ Eric

    Does anybody remember, in contrast, John Kerry

    I remember that he is a combat vet. Tell us about your service skippy…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  65. mannning says:

    Hours ago, I wrote a comment on whether we should call our returning servicemen heros or not, but it did not post or was unposted, I don’t know which.

    My assertion is that the actual combat troops that went out on patrol in Iraq evey night or every day for months on end, faced a vicious kind of enemy that created and renewed controlled minefields of IEDs that were very difficult to detect and disable, were indeed heroes. Our casualty rate soared because of these IEDs, and our hospitals have been filled with returnees with legs and arms blown off, or with concussion traumas that do not heal readily. To drag yourself out of you bunk day after day to jump into a Hummer, a Buffalo or a Stryker and drive rather slowly through the streets to suppress the insurgents and create a better set of living conditions for millions of Iraqis takes a lot of courage and fortitude, and it paid off for both our troops and the civilians that had formerly been suffering great casualties at the hands of insurgents. Oh yes, they did their job, but in many ways under far more stressful conditions than in other wars. Today’s news spoke of fully 50% of the returnees having applied for medical assistence, which is far higher than ever. This is primarily a measure of the effects of IEDs on our patrols. These guys were heros without a doubt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  66. Ron Beasley says:

    Emptywheel

    But move beyond the patina of insensitivity, and Chris Hayes was quite right. We need desperately to unhinge the valor of our troops from the moral squalor of our leaders. Memorial Day may be a touchy time to hear that, but it needs to be said.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  67. It is far from clear that our army could have defeated the Soviet army in Europe at that time. The Russians did the heavy lifting involved in defeating the Wehrmacht, and they were formidable indeed. We would have almost certainly had to go nuclear to win such a war.

    Yes, exactly. Which is why Truman said no.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  68. @Doug Mataconis:

    I think Memorial Day should be the day we set aside for remembering and mourning the destruction of and the damage done to human lives by all the wasteful, unnecessary wars governments start for ignoble reasons and then ask their nations’ young people to fight for them.

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  69. Eric Florack says:

    @PogueMahone: why insult the reader?

    not really. Only some of them. And that’s coming through long, painful experience.

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  70. André Kenji de Sousa says:

    The cold war was the direct result of not taking the advice of General George Patton and elimination the socilaist threat while we had the army there to do it with.

    That´s a pretty easy thing do, as Napoleon and Hitler can attest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  71. Eric Florack says:

    Hmm. It is far from clear that our army could have defeated the Soviet army in Europe at that time. The Russians did the heavy lifting involved in defeating the Wehrmacht, and they were formidable indeed. We would have almost certainly had to go nuclear to win such a war.

    That rather depends on the objective, eh?

    IN any event, I will certainly take the opinion of one of history’s most successful Generals, over yours. And certainly, over Truman, whose biggest task was to make FDR look good. And wasn’t it Truman that allowed us to be backed into a stalemate at the Korean”peace” table… thus imprisoning millions? As I said before, that is a point of National shame.

    As for having to go nuclear, I tend to doubt that. I suggest to you that all that would have been required would have been the *threat* of nuclear stikes… a point historians seem to agree on…. Stalin was most concerned about this.

    But, even assuming that we would have had to have gone nuclear, I still suggest that fewer people would have died in wars around the world, then to now.

    And in any event, wasn’t it you last March defending Truman’s decision to drop nukes on Japan? Explain to us the difference between the two situations in your estimation.

    And as for your final comment, Kerry’s combat record is questionable and padded at best. As we discovered during that campaign. So explain to us how that changes the angle of things. The point that I was making is the true heroes generally speaking don’t boast about their deeds. Assuming, of course, those deeds were genuine. Kerry did boast, almost continuously. And that’s something that many vets stood up and said, during that campaign.

    So, what IS your point, there anyway?

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  72. Andy says:

    This post and comment thread is kind of depressing except for 11b40 who seems to be the only person here who really gets it. Memorial day is for mourning and remembering our war dead. Not all of them were “heroes,” not all of them fought for noble ends, but that is irrelevant.

    Chris Hayes comments were stupid but not offensive IMO. The idea that honoring fallen “heroes” is “rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war” is just plain dumb. What does that mean? Are we to seriously believe that highlighting our war dead and calling them “heroes” is a method to gin up more war? Laughable.

    On the other hand, what actually was offensive was the reaction of the moronic chickenhawks on the right who swooped in and pounced on Hayes’ dumb comment as some kind of outrageous outrage. Like they actually give a rat’s ass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  73. Ben Wolf says:

    @Eric Florack:

    But, even assuming that we would have had to have gone nuclear, I still suggest that fewer people would have died in wars around the world, then to now.

    This is where your laziness and lack of due diligence come to the fore. The U.S. didn’t have any more atomic weapons assembled and ready after Little Boy was dropped, and the Soviets knew that. Nor is this ridiculous discussion germane to the subject at hand, but you never could stop yourself from derailing a good thread.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  74. anjin-san says:

    Explain to us the difference between the two situations in your estimation.

    Hmm. Japan attacked us and the Soviets did not perhaps? Is that too complicated for you?

    And as for your final comment, Kerry’s combat record is questionable and padded at best.

    Nice. You write this long valentine to yourself on Memorial Day – all about how you get it and others don’t. Then you crap on a combat vet because you don’t like his politics. Asshole.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  75. Eric Florack says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    This is where your laziness and lack of due diligence come to the fore. The U.S. didn’t have any more atomic weapons assembled and ready after Little Boy was dropped, and the Soviets knew that.

    THey figured that, they dind’t know. More, how long would building another have taken? Not long by a standard set by 5 years of war.

    @anjin-san: As for Kerry’s combat record, I simply state the facts… as did many other combat vets in that period, if you’ll recall.Indeed I’m sure if we look deeply enough we will find you making disparaging comments about those swiftboat combat veterans, because you didn’t like their politics …. in that they didn’t support Kerry.

    Oh, and Anjin? I’m still waiting for an answer. Here’s a reminder….

    And in any event, wasn’t it you last March defending Truman’s decision to drop nukes on Japan? Explain to us the difference between the two situations in your estimation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  76. Eric Florack says:

    Sorry, missed your rather simple reply, and yes, it IS too simple… particularly when the situation involves someone as duplicitous as Stalin.

    In any event, were that the only consideration why would Truman have even thought about it, as you suggest he had….?

    I say again, this was a failure of judgment on Truman’s part…. In a presidency strewn with them.

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  77. Are we to seriously believe that highlighting our war dead and calling them “heroes” is a method to gin up more war?

    Um, yes.

    Laughable.

    I wish it were.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  78. anjin-san says:

    Sorry bit, today just is not about you and your crackpot theories. Run along.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  79. Ben Wolf says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    The wisest were just the poor and simple people. They knew the war to be a misfortune, whereas those who were better off, and should have been able to see more clearly what the consequences would be, were beside themselves with joy. Katczinsky said that was a result of their upbringing. It made them stupid.

    There’s a reason All Quiet on the Western Front isn’t in most school libraries. It might persuade some young people to not go out and make “heroes” of themselves so the armchair generals can slap their chests and talk of what a brave stand it was.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  80. Andy says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    Um, yes.

    On what basis? Where is your evidence? Can you cite any examples?

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  81. Nick says:

    If those who expressed all the fauxtrage about Hayes’ comments were sincere in their concern about the troops, Memeorandum would have exploded with this story, rather than with blogposts on Hayes’ comments:

    “Veterans wait months for disability claims”

    http://www.kxxv.com/story/18248142/veterans-wait-months-for-disability-claims

    It’s really about scoring points rather than taking care of the men and women the wingnuts sent off to war.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  82. You know, I didn’t even read this piece at OTB because I took the title as self-evident. Memorial Day should be sacred, even when you oppose war.

    I was aware of the Chris Hayes kerfuffle at some level, but I had put it down to “if you spend enough time on TV, you say something stupid.” I didn’t actually expect something as reasoned as this:

    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 the 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.

    Will Wilkinson gets on the right side of that, when he responds:

    He’s not wrong about that. Calling “hero” everyone killed in war, no matter the circumstances of their death, not only helps sustain the ethos of martial glory that keeps young men and women signing up to kill and die for the state, no matter the justice of the cause, but also saps the word of meaning, dishonouring the men and women of exceptional courage and valour actually worthy of the title. The cheapening of “hero” is a symptom of a culture desperate to evade serious moral self-reflection by covering itself in indiscriminate glory for undertaking wars of dubious value. A more confident culture would not react with such hostility to Mr Hayes’ admirable, though cautiously hedged, expression of discomfort with our truly discomfiting habit of numbing ourselves to the reality of often senseless sacrifice with posturing piety and too-easy posthumous praise.

    That quality of response basically explains why a simple blogger like Will ended up writing for The Economist.

    What did we get at OTB?

    I’m shamed to say that we got the worst sort of meme machine response. Doug’s article is NOT centered on the truth of what Hayes said, and the guy takes it all the way out to be an attack on Memorial Day.

    Utterly shameful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  83. I really can’t believe Doug went here:

    I opposed the Iraq War. I think our continued mission in Afghanistan is a big mistake. But, holding those fighting the battle responsible for that would be a tragic mistake. They did not make the decision to go to war, and they have no control over when to end it. We have already dealt in our very recent history with an unpopular war and a group of veterans and war dead who, for far too long, were forgotten by their nation, we should not join the Chris Hayes’s of the world in doing that again.

    All I can think is that he wanted to be negative, some way, and to be anti-left, even after paragraphs agreeing with what Hayes actually said.

    He later calls him “Chris ‘Maddow look-a-like’ Hayes” in further “substantive” analysis.

    Jeez. If Doug is supposed to be generating traffic on a crap blog, he’s doin’ it all right. If OTB is supposed to be better …

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  84. John,

    If Chris Hayes were anything other than a sub-par partisan hack perhaps I would have been kinder to him. His smug self-importance in making those comments resulted him in getting the treatment he, largely, deserved.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  85. @Doug Mataconis:

    Do you want anger points for that response?

    Simply put, your May 29, 2012 at 10:35 illustrates again why Will is at The Economist and you are in a backwater.

    OTB could really be better. I don’t think it needs more text to be so. As I’ve said in the past, it could follow the Marginal Revolution model. Be short, cryptic, and smart.

    (On of the secrets of MR is that when they know they might be wrong, they are smart enough not to be too clear about what they are saying.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  86. Robert Levine says:

    We have already dealt in our very recent history with an unpopular war and a group of veterans and war dead who, for far too long, were forgotten by their nation, we should not join the Chris Hayes’s of the world in doing that again.

    Given that Chris Hayes spent an entire show talking about Memorial Day and veterans, that seems an unfair accusation.

    the objection to describing those who have died in service to their country as heroes isn’t based so much in a concern that it diminishes the true acts of heroism that have occurred, and will continue to occur in wartime as it is in the fear that acknowledging the sacrifices that these men, and women, have made would somehow be a political statement.

    What’s ironic is that the reaction on the Right to Haye’s remarks are absolute proof that such acknowledgement is constantly used as a political statement..

    I wonder just how deep the cuts to veterans services would be required by the Romney-Ryan budget. But of course that has nothing to do with “honoring the services of our heroes.” That’s about “entitlements.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  87. The fact that you cannot see why it was offensive for Hayes to say what he said on this of all weekends actually astounds me.

    But fine, you agree with him. More power to you. I’m done talking about this, and ready to go back to forgetting that Mr. Hayes exists.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  88. @Doug Mataconis:

    More trash talk. Don’t run away though. CIte exactly what Hayes said that was offensive.

    Because above you actually agreed with him intellectually:

    Now, on some level I will admit that there is merit in the argument that the term “hero” is tossed around far too loosely these days. Going back to the Ancient Greeks and the Romans, after all, “hero” has long been a term that was applied sparingly. That’s why the United States awards special honors, ranging from commendations to the Bronze Star, the Silver Star, and the Congressional Medal Of Honor, to those who have distinguished themselves by exceptional action in combat.

    But after that you’ve made your repeated claim to disagree with him emotionally.

    It this just a lack of self-awareness on your part?

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  89. John,

    It was Memorial Day Weekend, okay? If that isn’t good enough for you, well, you’re just going to have to live with it because I found it offensive and so did plenty of other people.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  90. @Doug Mataconis:

    Why didn’t you quote anything there?

    Is it because you can’t find actual words you disagree with?

    Is it because you want to oppose this guy because you see him as a big MS-NBC liberal, and want to be in the anger-circle, even without that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  91. John,

    I quoted Hayes in the post. I don’t need to do it again. You apparently don’t think I have the right to have an opinion on this.

    Also, I would note that Hayes has previously called the Occupy protesters “heroic.” It is rather astounding to me that he considers camping in a park “heroic,” but not fighting on behalf of your country in the mountains of Afghanistan.

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  92. To the reader:

    This is the worst sort of blog-cascade. Someone says something, someone else repositions it and gets angry. From then on people repeat the anger, generating a blog cascade. It would be fine if the anger tied back to what was actually said.

    Unfortunately knaves and charlatans can play the game with malicious intent. They can distort a message and generate a cascade on what they wish someone had said, rather than with what they did actually say.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  93. (The fact that Doug cannot find any of Chris’ words to object to seals this deal. Again, he agreed with the quoted text, that “hero” was over-used. And then went on to insert other things Chris did not say, and became angry about those made-up arguments.)

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  94. Fine John, pretend that you “won” this while ignoring the fact that people can be offended by things that don’t offend you.

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  95. Herb says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “I found it offensive and so did plenty of other people. ”

    Fair enough. I’ll just say this: If you spent Memorial Day offended about what some dude on TV said….you wasted your time, man.

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  96. Herb says:

    ….so now we’re all Italic?

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  97. There was a stray italics tag that hadn’t been closed for some reason. Fixed it.

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  98. Rob in CT says:

    w/o wading through 90+ comments…

    I find it interesting that you use the word “sacred” here Doug. That’s just it: if something is sacred, it’s off limits. That, in turn, is “political correctness.” Which the contemporary American Right uses very well (the Left uses it too, yes. Ineptly, much of the time).

    Hayes was right.

    I appreciate the service of folks in the military (includes some family members). But our culture reveres not only veterans themselves, but the Military in general… and, sadly, war itself. This coupled with an all-volunteer military in which a tiny portion of the population ever serves. Hayes was getting at that, and the backlash was classic PC: “shut up, because you’ve insulted someone (not me, somebody else who I have put on a pedastal)!”

    Dulce et Decorum Est, Pro Patria Mori. The old lie.

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  99. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    You apparently don’t think I have the right to have an opinion on this.

    john personna asked the exact opposite. He specifically asked you to “CIte exactly what Hayes said that was offensive,” obviously implying he wants to do read (and think) deeper into what exactly about Hayes’ comment is offensive to you.

    From what I’m reading here, I’m confused myself. You seem to agree with the intellectual point Hayes is making; that maybe we shouldn’t reflexively lionize servicemen as “heroes” simply because they elected to serve their country through combat. I think it’s a valid point that merits discussion. Your criticisms seem couched in the fact that Hayes is on MSNBC, and therefore (?) a “sub-par partisan hack” who is ” smug[ly] self-importa[ant] in making those comments.” I’m really not sure where you’re getting this, other than your own animus against Hayes personally, or MSNBC as a monolith.

    Hayes may in fact be all those bad names you called him Doug, but that’s not really material to the point he’s making.

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  100. Andre Kenji says:

    Considering what you usually gets on MSNBC and Fox, Chris´ Show is not bad. There are some reasonable conservatives like Joshua Barro, most of his guests are good bloggers or writers(Even if almost all of them are from the usual NY-DC Liberal corridor).

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  101. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    At the risk of violating your hospitality by taking another bite of this apple and with thanks to “Andy” for recognizing my perhaps too subtle point, I would add this bit of poetry from The Rolling Stones circa 1969. It’s from their “Beggars Banquet” album and the title of the song was “The Salt of the Earth”.

    “Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
    Spare a thought for his back breaking work
    Say a prayer for his wife and his children
    Who burn the fires and who still till the earth.”

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  102. Robert Levine says:

    Doug Mataconis wrote:

    The fact that you cannot see why it was offensive for Hayes to say what he said on this of all weekends actually astounds me.

    But fine, you agree with him. More power to you. I’m done talking about this, and ready to go back to forgetting that Mr. Hayes exists.

    My father served in World War II; landed on Utah Beach on D-Day and was sent home after being wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. That gives me no authority to speak on the subject of heroism, of course. But it gives him considerable authority.

    Unfortunately, he died a few years ago after an extremely long and distinguished career in academia that wouldn’t have happened but for the GI Bill. But I do know what he thought about his service. He thought about it very little. We didn’t celebrate Memorial Day in my family, and the Fourth of July was dicey because he kept ducking whenever anyone set off fireworks. He actively opposed every war since his (possibly excepting Korea; I wasn’t around then).

    He did not regard himself as a hero, even though his actions during the war demonstrated considerable courage in my view. Nor did he regard those he served with as heroes; at least he never said anything to that effect. He never asked for thanks from anyone for his service. He was just glad it was over, that he survived, and that Germany was defeated. I doubt very much that he would have been bothered in the least by what Hayes said.

    I’m sorry, Doug, but I’m pretty sure he would have thought you were full of hot air on this subject.

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  103. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis

    Your post and following comments read that you agree with what Hayes said, nevertheless you don’t like Chris Hayes, or Rachel Maddow or MSNBC. At the end of your post you slandered Hayes, writing that he wants us to forget about veterans just like those bad people did after Vietnam even though he never said anything of the sort.

    So the question is: Why are you lying?

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  104. Ben,

    No I mostly think Hayes was a callous jerk for saying what he did on Memorial Day weekend.

    And I am happily returning to forgetting that he exists, like most of the rest of America does.

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  105. @Doug Mataconis:

    It was Memorial Day Weekend, okay? If that isn’t good enough for you, well, you’re just going to have to live with it because I found it offensive and so did plenty of other people.

    This I don’t entirely get: if this isn’t the time to talk about the complexities of death in war and what it means, when is?

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  106. I don’t know. Perhaps a time when families aren’t mourning their dead.

    Obviously I’m in the minority here. Frankly, I’m surprised that a comment by a first-time TV host on a low-rated weekend program would have aroused so much commentary.

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  107. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Per the article you quoted, Hayes said:

    “I feel… uncomfortable, about the word [hero] 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.”

    Hayes is uncomfortable about calling all veterans “heroes” because he feels it is “rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.” What about that is callous, exactly? I mean that as a serious question. In the original post, you write that:

    … [Hayes’] fear [is] that acknowledging the sacrifices that these men, and women, have made would somehow be a political statement. That strikes me as a deeply myopic, politically-obsessed, view of the world. Disagreeing with the political decision to go to war should never, I would submit, be a reason to either denigrate or ignore the sacrifices that those who served in that war have made, which seems to be the clear implication of what Hayes and his fellow panelists were saying in this segment. (emphasis mine)

    Hayes’ point was very thoughtful and nuanced, especially for someone talking extemporaneously. I think he parses his uneasiness with the relationship the United States (or humans) has with service through combat and “heroism.” I see nothing in the idea of “heroes” being “rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war” that “denigrates” or “ignores” the the sacrifices of servicemen. If anything, it validates them.

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  108. James,

    I answered that question in my post. It is possible to oppose the political decision to go to war without taking that out against those sent to fight in it. Hayes does not seem to understand that.

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  109. @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t know. Perhaps a time when families aren’t mourning their dead.

    The problem is, that would mean never. These deaths don’t happen all and once and the pain never is totally gone. It seems to me that in terms of national dialog the most likely times for these sorts of issues to come to the fore is one Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day.

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  110. Moosebreath says:

    “Frankly, I’m surprised that a comment by a first-time TV host on a low-rated weekend program would have aroused so much commentary.”

    Wow, someone who comments on politics and who doesn’t understand how the outrage machine works. Or at least not when Republicans do it (since Doug seems to understand it just fine when Democrats do it).

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  111. Funny Moosebreath, I saw several Democrats criticize Hayes for what he said on Sunday.

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  112. @Doug Mataconis:

    It is possible to oppose the political decision to go to war without taking that out against those sent to fight in it. Hayes does not seem to understand that.

    I am unclear on how thoughtfully opining in a discussion about the complexity of the appropriate language is ” taking that out against those sent to fight .”

    I must confess, the overuse (IMO) or words like “hero” and celebrations of how everything the military does “keeps us free” makes me uncomfortable because it elevates war and military action to a place of sacredness that actually, I would argue, diminishes the sacrifices in question.

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  113. Rob in CT says:

    This is pretty clear, Doug. You just plain don’t like Hayes, ’cause he plays for the team you just plain don’t like. He said stuff you mostly agree with and that sucks, because shut up that’s why.

    Memorial Day strikes me as the perfect time to bring up the issues he brought up. I mean, in theory it’s supposed to be about honoring those who have served, particularly those who have fallen. Respectful reflection.

    Instead, it’s apparently really about drinking beer and dick flag waving.

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  114. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Hayes, nowhere in his comment that I can find, makes any kind of statement that can be construed as “taking that out against those sent to fight in it.” What do you mean by that anyways?

    Hayes, quite clearly, says that he’s “uncomfortable, about the word [hero] because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.” There’s nothing in there about expressing political disagreements as criticisms of our servicemen and servicewomen.

    Hayes is talking about the tendency we have in political speech, to reflexively call combat troops “heroes”, without any real contemplation about the realities of combat, terror and human barbarism, and actual public policy. And that’s an important point to make, especially on Memorial Day! I mean, geez Doug, remember Pat Tillman? The constant insistence that any critical points about the War in Iraq would be inappropriate and demoralize to “the troops”? “Freedom Fires”?

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  115. Rob,

    I neither like or dislike a person I’ve never met and probably never will. To the extent I have an opinion on him it’s that the few months I actually did devote to watching his show revealed him to be, like his mentor Rachel Maddow but without her talen, smug and self-important in his ideology while maintaining the illusion that his show provides “equal time” to opposing points of view. It’s my fault for watching cable “news” I suppose. Fortunately, TNT has Law & Order up against him that are far more interesting.

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  116. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    […] like his mentor Rachel Maddow but without her talen, smug and self-important in his ideology while maintaining the illusion that his show provides “equal time” to opposing points of view. It’s my fault for watching cable “news” I suppose.

    Would you like some cheese with that whine?

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  117. On what basis? Where is your evidence? Can you cite any examples?

    Yes, every war this country has engaged in since WWII. Recent examplies include the way dissent against the war was demonized by claiming that our fighting men and women were heroes and anyone who openly opposed the war utterly contemptible and even anti-American. The word “hero” is used all the time to drum up support for war. Thinking of and speaking of soldiers as “heroes who are defending our freedom” is such an intrinsic way of drumming up support for war that it amazes me anyone can fail to see it.

    In an earlier comment, Radley Balko pointed out that calling soldiers “heroes” always is accompanied by claims for the “nobility” of the wars they are fighting “to defend our freedoms,” and he further added that nobody would dream of using the word “heroes” to describe the soldiers who fight for the countries or governments the U.S. opposed. Those soldiers are called “the enemy.” Can you imagine what the response might be if a media pundit that the insurgents in Iraq were “heroes” defending their country from aggressive U.S. invaders and fighting for Iraqis’ right to live in freedom?

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  118. Rob in CT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Right, so you don’t like Hayes. Or Maddow. I can’t imagine why…

    I haven’t watched his show (or hers). I don’t watch such shows, nor TV news, so all I have to go on is the transcript here. And from that, what he said seems thoroughly sensible.

    Whatever.

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  119. Lit3Bolt says:

    @john personna:

    Doug is just doing his part of being the obtuse troll in his own post to drive traffic and comments up. Of course he knows he’s wrong and he’s being a jerk and has no real argument; the point is never about winning arguments. It’s about hits, and links, and traffic.

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  120. Moosebreath says:

    Doug,

    “I saw several Democrats criticize Hayes for what he said on Sunday.”

    No doubt. Democrats have long been spineless on supporting statements which can be seen in a negative light, even more so than Republicans. What’s next, breathless;y pointing out that water is wet or the sun rises in the East?

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  121. @Doug Mataconis:

    Expressing uneasiness with using the word “heroes” to describe American soldiers is not equivalent to “taking it out” on those soldiers. Calling them “baby-killers” would be taking it out on those soldiers. Not expressing discomfort with worshipping them as heroes.

    And as I’ve written in another comment, despite the fact that you (and many others) SAY that it’s possible to oppose a particular war, or war in general, and still agree that soldiers are heroes, it’s really not. I know because I have myself tried, over the years, to embrace that position. I can say it to myself, but I cannot truly believe it. It’s an untenable position that, everytime I voice it or think it, just falls apart under the weight of all the conflicting questions it raises.

    I believe that that invading and occupying Iraq was much more than a “mistake” or a policy I disagreed with. I believe that war, as well as the duplicitous way it was justified, was a great evil,and that it profoundly damaged my country. I respect the convictions of soldiers who so supported their President’s claims for the necessity of the war that they signed up to help fight it. But I don’t consider them heroes. And I do not see how I could consider them heroes while simultaneously believing that the war they fought was evil. And the willingness of men and women to volunteer to fight in Iraq because they felt they were fighting for our country does not make them heroes, any more than the horrors and evils the fighting led to, makes the soldiers themselves evil. They’re not evil and they’re not heroes.

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  122. Kathy,

    Not to direct this at you personally, but this comment thread is getting tedious. I have an opinion about what Hayes said. Others disagree with it. At this point, we’re all just wasting time arguing over someone who, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t really matter at all.

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  123. @Doug Mataconis:

    Not to direct this at you personally, but this comment thread is getting tedious. I have an opinion about what Hayes said. Others disagree with it. At this point, we’re all just wasting time arguing over someone who, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t really matter at all.

    Well, I suppose if the discussion is just over Hayes or his exact words, you have a point.

    I think that this is actually a pretty profound topic that focuses heavily on how we, as a country, view usages of military power.

    Don’t you find it at least interesting that a firestorm was unleashed (you saw Memeorandum the last couple of days) by the mere suggestions that maybe the word “hero” isn’t the right one to use in this context?

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  124. I actually found the firestorm entirely unsurprising considering it was a slow-news Sunday on a slow-news holiday weekend.

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  125. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I have an opinion about what Hayes said.

    If you’re content with knocking down a strawman, well, that’s your business. But your points against Hayes aren’t based on any of the substance of Hayes’ comments.

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  126. James,

    If you want to dismiss the generally expressed displeasure that many people have expressed over what he he said and when and how he said it, that’s your choice.

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  127. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: So the “the generally expressed displeasure” is more important that what he actually said?

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  128. James,

    People’s feelings matter, especially on a weekend that is supposed to have a solemn meaning at its core (not going to the beach)

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  129. Hey Doug, if you want to get mad at someone actually disrepecting dead soldiers:

    http://nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/general-s-blog-entry-reignites-army-suicide-debate-20120522

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  130. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: So you’re going to feel offended for other people?Is that it?How is Hayes’ allergy to calling all veterans “heroes” because he feels it is “rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war” an offensive thing to say?

    As more level heads on the thread have said already:

    […] the overuse (IMO) or words like “hero” and celebrations of how everything the military does “keeps us free” makes me uncomfortable because it elevates war and military action to a place of sacredness that actually, I would argue, diminishes the sacrifices in question. (emphasis mine)

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  131. WR says:

    @Rob in CT: “Right, so you don’t like Hayes. Or Maddow. I can’t imagine why…”

    Doug really seems threatened by smart, articulate liberals who are able to clearly explain their reasons for believing the way they do. It’s almost as if there’s a war inside him between his knowledge of the way the world really works on one hand, and his quasi-religious belief in ludicrous libertarian ideals that depend on human nature changing overnight. And that he gets really anxious when someone is able to demonstrate so easily why his knowledge is right and his belief system is wrong.

    Hence his anger and contempt when one of these arrogant libs dares to say something with which he agrees — as Hayes did here. If Hayes is right on this, then who knows what else he might be right about? And we can’t have that. So Doug thinks Hayes is wrong, even though he’s saying exactly what Doug did.

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  132. WR,

    Maddow and Hayes smart? Intelligent, I’m sure. Also, smug and self-important and the reason that honest debate is not possible on cable “news”

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  133. James,

    No, I was personally offended by it. You may think I’m over-reacting. But, whatever.

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  134. James says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Well, I’ll ask again: How is Hayes’ allergy to calling all veterans “heroes,” because he feels it is “rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war,” an offensive thing to say? Are you really saying it’s out of bounds to have an honest discussion on this?

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  135. James says:

    And for the record, I don’t think you’re overreacting. I just think your reaction is immature.

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  136. @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t take it as directed at me personally. Why would I do that? You’ve said what you said here, in various ways, to many other people here, not just me.

    I have to say, though, that I think you miss the point of this thread, and of the larger discussion, when you say that we’re arguing over someone who, in the larger scheme of things, doesn’t matter at all. This discussion is not about Chris Hayes. He was just the spark that got it started. The discussion is about very much larger, more significant issues than that.

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  137. “People’s feelings matter, …”

    I don’t think your point is that people’s feelings matter. Do you object in every instance when a firestorm arises over someone having said something that could be construed as callous?

    To me, what I take from your post, and comments, is that the feelings of men and women in the military, and their families, matter, but more than that, they matter to the degree that you believe it’s wrong to say soldiers aren’t heroes when other people think they are heroes.

    I just think it’s less than honest to make a general statement that “people’s feelings matter” when in some other circumstance you might say “people get offended too easily.”

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  138. @Doug Mataconis:

    Also, smug and self-important and the reason that honest debate is not possible on cable “news”

    I’ve often thought that unrecognized irony should be some sort of toxic substance, so that every so often there would be news reports of someong getting rushed to the hospital suffering from irony poisoning.

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  139. Doug Mataconis one:

    “Frankly, I’m surprised that a comment by a first-time TV host on a low-rated weekend program would have aroused so much commentary. ”

    Doug Mataconis two:

    “I actually found the firestorm entirely unsurprising considering it was a slow-news Sunday on a slow-news holiday weekend.”

    Not important in the scheme of things; I just thought it was funny. :-)

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  140. The now-eternal news cycle is a constant source of amusement, Kathy

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  141. WR says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yes, Doug. They’re smug. Which is what you call every liberal who makes points you can’t refute but don’t want to acknowledge as true.

    Next up: Drum circles!

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  142. WR,

    I don’t bother wasting my time arguing with people who think Hayes is a great thinker

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  143. @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t bother wasting my time arguing with people who think Hayes is a great thinker

    In fairness: is that the argument on the table?

    I think that that real issue has little to do with Hayes, cable news, or whether it was a slow-news weekend, but rather as I noted @above: “I think that this is actually a pretty profound topic that focuses heavily on how we, as a country, view usages of military power.”

    I take it you disagree?

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  144. Steven,

    I believe one can have that discussion, and indeed it’s one I have undertaken myself many times over the course of the years, without dragging the question of what respect the troops deserve.

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  145. mannning says:

    I believe we have a warrior sub-culture, and it generates a pantheon of heores for us to revere. But, I cannot see where that in itself promotes more wars. Certainly few if any of the actual warriors we have would agree, since they have been there and do not wish to go again. Few of their military bosses would agree because they have seen the elephant more than once, and reject the whole idea of provoking war. The Congress is decidedly anti-war, unless there is a credible threat to the nation. Our youth have always played war from the days of indian warfare right through to today, but, many of their romantic ideas about war are usually well-snuffed out by the adults in their lives, or with their first introduction to the Army. That leaves the President, and the citizenry outside of the warrior sub-culture to be roused to war by the hero worship we see. That is nonsense.

    Perhaps we have used the term hero somewhat loosely, but I believe that a large part of that is a residual reaction to how our men were treated after Vietnam, and a conscious attempt being made by many of us not to repeat that sad affair again, even if a little overblown now. So, It is very good that our men are treated better today than then. It is also good that real heroes receive medals and ribbons for their actions in combat.

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  146. @Doug Mataconis:

    I believe one can have that discussion, and indeed it’s one I have undertaken myself many times over the course of the years, without dragging the question of what respect the troops deserve.

    But surely raising the question of whether “hero” is the an appropriate blanket term to describe veterans is not about respecting the troops, is it?

    Is not the essence here the issue of whether glorification of the military and military action, in general, might have a broader political-cultural implications?

    If all troops are heroes, does that not imply that all military actions are just and good? It certainly implies that war is inherently heroic.

    If we really do believe, further, that the only reason we have free speech and the right to worship is because of military actions (because, after all, “freedom isn’t free”) does that not, too, have some profound implications? I saw stuff like that all over my FB feed over the weekend and I think it is a pretty mainstream view.

    I don’t see how asking these questions disrespects the troops.

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  147. @mannning:

    To drag yourself out of you bunk day after day to jump into a Hummer, a Buffalo or a Stryker and drive rather slowly through the streets to suppress the insurgents and create a better set of living conditions for millions of Iraqis takes a lot of courage and fortitude, and it paid off for both our troops and the civilians that had formerly been suffering great casualties at the hands of insurgents.

    But you’re begging the issue here. Not everyone agrees with you that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq “created a better set of living conditions for millions of Iraqis.” In fact, quite a few people think it did exactly the opposite. So why should those people agree that Americans who fought and died and were disabled in Iraq were “heroes,” as opposed to victims? I suppose you could call them tragic heroes.

    Also, the U.S. occupation was what caused the insurgency in the first place, and in turn led to the horrendous civil war that took tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and displaced several million Iraqis. It takes a fair amount of chutzpah to credit the American presence in Iraq with ending the slaughter that the American presence caused.

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  148. anjin-san says:

    On the subject of Patton, it is worth noting that while he was undoubtedly a brillant fighting general and a tactical genius, he was not a big picture guy. There was a reason the cooler heads of Bradley, Eisenhower, and Marshall were above him in the chain of command.

    Patton was the guy you wanted in the field when the shooting started, not the one you wanted making decisions about war and peace when the fate of nations and millions of lives were hanging in the balance.

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  149. Reality Blights says:

    Hey Doug:

    It’s evident enough that nuance just confuses you, so I shall do my best to be clear:
    I know I cannot stop you from ganging up with all your reichwing pals to bully actual journalists and demonize them for their intellectual honesty and broadcast willful misinterpretations of their remarks in the attempt to silence them and ultimately suffocate freedom of speech itself.

    But I would like to invite you to take your phony regard for my service, wrap it around the tip of a bullet, and shove it up your ass. I truly hope it kills ya.

    You think I don’t mean it? I mean it.

    Sincerely,
    1 vet

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  150. Nick says:

    Charlie Pierce does his usual excellent job:

    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/chris-hayes-apology-9255487

    When can we expect apologies from all those who participated in the tear down of John Kerry’s combat service? Remember those cute Purple Heart Band Aids seen at the GOP convention in 2004?

    Where was the outrage then?

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  151. André Kenji de Sousa says:

    I´m a foreigner, and unlike 99,9% of Americans I can read in three or four languages other than my native tongue. I can say that this American obsession with the Military is unique phenomenon. There are several people that died in wars in other countries, but you don´t see the same obsession with that(Two federal holidays dedicated to that, by the way). You don´t see, EVERY DAMN YEAR, a dozen of minutes of newscasts with military cemeteries on other countries.

    By the way, everytime there is someone saying that these people died so that he/she could be free today. This kind of assertion is absurd, and no one in the US notes that. And probably, that´s correlated to another American obsession, talking about invading other countries.

    I know, it´s always annoying a foreigner saying “I´m cooler than you” or something like that, but I think that´s an issue worth discussing.

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  152. Rob in CT says:

    @André Kenji de Sousa:

    Indeed. I have a similar perspective, because my father is a Brit. A WWII vet, actually (British Merchant Marine). He’s mystified by the way Americans talk about military service. The big talk, bravado, etc… he just shakes his head.

    The whole way we talk about these things in this country is FUBAR. This Hayes character took a pretty decent stab at very gently questioning it, and apparently stirred up a shitstorm. I can’t say I’m surprised, but I do find it depressing.

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  153. mattb says:

    @Rob in CT:

    Indeed. I have a similar perspective, because my father is a Brit. A WWII vet, actually (British Merchant Marine). He’s mystified by the way Americans talk about military service. The big talk, bravado, etc… he just shakes his head.

    Ironically this same sort of “hero” thought permeated the British empire going into WWI — part of the reason for the rush to enter the war. The idea was that no good public school boy could truly be a man without seeing Combat (and that commoners who aspired to being a Gentleman needed to see battle as well). We know how that worked out for the great British empire.

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  154. There are a number of reviews floating around the web, about ‘The Righteous Mind,’ by Jonathan Haidt. Here’s one.

    I think it relates to the above because, while Doug can’t enunciate clearly how he is right, he clearly shows that he feels righteous. Hayes did not offend his reason, or his rational values, but he nonetheless offended his sensibilities.

    Why? Hayes might be right, but he spoke against those three values shared on the right and largely absent on the left: loyalty to the in-group, authority and the sacred.

    It’s that simple. There are times, obviously, when truth telling is bad. It is bad when it damages the in-group, when it undermines authority, and when it minimized the sacred. That’s this thread in a nutshell.

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  155. Rob in CT says:

    @john personna:

    +1.

    The basic thesis of The Righteous Mind (which I haven’t read, but I’ve taken some of the quizzes they have online) seems right to me.

    Way to tie it into this discussion perfectly.

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  156. mannning says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    I am certain that many opposed the Iraqi war and the Afghanistan war, and thus look at the results with a “glass-half empty” mindset. Others believe we did accomplish something of value to those nations, even as we fumbled and stumbled around for years, but it is up to the peoples concerned to make it permanent and worthwhile to themselves in the long run.

    Iraq–In my own view, we missed the chance early on in Iraq to gain full control of the country with enough troops to undercut the insurgency before it even started. We even disbanded the Iraqi army and hence turned thousands of fighters over to the insurgency.That was a critical failure of our government, and it resulted in a long and costly street war. For that failure I first blame Bush, and, when he took office, Obama, for hanging out the timed withdrawal shingle for the enemy to read.

    Afghanistan–That OBL was found and killed on Obama’s watch instead of Bush’es is merely fortuitous, but welcome anyway. We suffered again from too little and too late to do the job, which is a telling flaw in our collective outlook on what it really takes to subdue a nation, even one full of natives with guns, sand, rock, poppy plants, mountains, and little else.

    We thought large but fought small, when we should have thought small and fought large, one or a few provinces at a time, and then executed a thorough occupation, saturated policing actions and solidification of our gains in each. Neither Bush nor Obama agreed to fight large enough, but they both surely thought large enough!

    Nation-building is the kicker here, and we are not able to execute such ambitious infrastructure undertakings for an entire nation without serious monitary problems, humanitarian and tribal problems, and not to mention the hubris that we could. So again, the withdrawal shingle was hung out to notify the enemy of our departure schedule. Failure to seize and hold our supply lines was yet another catastrophic fiasco that should not have been allowed to happen, especially on Obama’s watch.

    My one-line message here seems to be either fight such wars to the hilt or don’t start it in the first place, and for heaven’s sake, don’t overcommit us to nation-building!

    That said, regardless of the outcomes, we must honor the troops for their service.

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  157. anjin-san says:

    That said, regardless of the outcomes, we must honor the troops for their service.

    I think that is an individual choice, not something you get to tell people the “must” do.

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  158. WR says:

    @mannning: “My one-line message here seems to be either fight such wars to the hilt or don’t start it in the first place, and for heaven’s sake, don’t overcommit us to nation-building!”

    For once, Manning, I agree with you. If you’re going to invade a country that has not attacked and does not threaten you — in other words, if you are going to fight a war of imperial conquest — then you basically need to make yourself into an imperial power. You have to act like the Germans in 1939 — you take over, and you rule without pity and without care for your new subjects. You’ve got to be willing to kill one hundred villagers if one steps out of line. Otherwise, you’ll be fighting an insurgency for the rest of your life.

    If you don’t want to do that — if your moral compass will not allow you to turn your country into Nazi Germany — then the alternative is simply not to start these wars at all.

    But to invade a country, murder its people, and expect the survivors to rally around you out of love and gratitude is the height of arrogance and stupidity.

    You want an empire? Rule like an emperor. Don’t want to terrorize, murder and imprison an entire country? Give up the dreams of empire.

    It’s that simple.

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  159. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    I just did, and I will do it again. We must support our troops.

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  160. mannning says:

    @WR:

    Well now, you agree with me, it seems, but you extend the argument into delusions of empire, which we have never had.

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  161. anjin-san says:

    I just did, and I will do it again. We must support our troops.

    Well, we should, and hopefully we will. But “must”? Good drone. Can they make you roll over and do other tricks?

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  162. PrometheeFeu says:

    “Disagreeing with the political decision to go to war should never, I would submit, be a reason to either denigrate or ignore the sacrifices that those who served in that war have made”

    To put it plainly, this is bullshit. The righteousness of the war in which the soldiers fought matters a lot. The way that war was fought also matters. What you are doing is twisting the logic of Nuremberg on its head. In the world you construct, not only is “I was just following orders” a valid excuse, it is a cause for glorification. Soldiers kill people. They recklessly kill many peaceful people. Of the people they intend to kill, many are terrified conscripts or fools who were lied to and now cannot leave on penalty of desertion. To justify such acts, soldiers must have very compelling moral reasons. “My commander told me so” is not a compelling moral reason. “The guys whom 50+% of the voters likes in the last election” is also not a compelling moral reason. The Iraq war definitely did not offer such compelling reasons. The heroes were those who ran as far away as they could to avoid having to needlessly maim, kill and destroy. Those who were legally compelled to go to war may have an excuse for what they did. But they are not heroes for it.

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