Chris Hayes Is Right About Heroes

| Tue May 29, 2012 6:27 PM EDT

On his show on MSNBC this Sunday, Chris Hayes dedicated an hour to the subject of Memorial Day. During the show, Hayes admitted that labeling all fallen American soldiers as "heroes" made him uncomfortable.

"It is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the word hero. Why do I feel so uncomfortable about the word hero?" Hayes said. "I feel uncomfortable with the word hero because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. And I obviously don't want to desecrate or disrespect the memory of anyone that has fallen. Obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is tremendous heroism. You know, hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers, things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that's problematic, but maybe I'm wrong about that."

The backlash was as swift and fierce as one would expect.

Breitbart.com's Kurt Schlichter argues that "the real problem for Chris Hayes is that he actually said what he thinks. He thinks our soldiers are suckers and fools at best, brutal sociopaths at worst. At a minimum, he feels that honoring those who died for this country might encourage people to see that actually defending our country is a good thing. He's not quite ready to make that leap; after all, most progressives are ambivalent about this whole "America" concept, if not actively opposed to it."

This is obviously silly. American conservatives carry on endlessly about the value of individualism, but when it comes to praising soldiers on their individual merits, rather than en masse, it's suddenly downright anti-American. Chris Hayes is practically spitting on the troops, according to Schlichter, who does his very best to avoid context and nuance in favor of ad hominem and vitriol. It's par for the course with all-things-Breitbart, but does a good enough job illustrating the cultural divide animating this dispute.

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