MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes probably should’ve probably thought twice before making controversial statements about fallen soldiers on a special Memorial Day episode of his show. Hayes mentioned during a panel discussion that he is uncomfortable using the word “hero” as a blanket term for all fallen soldiers because it can be skewed to justify war.
“Why do I feel so [uncomfortable] about the word ‘hero’? I feel uncomfortable about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war,” he says [via the Huffington Post]. “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: 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,” he says.
While in context it is an interesting talking point, and he qualified it 100 percent as an opinion while showing the appropriate respect for said fallen soldiers, Hayes surely could’ve predicted that not everyone would feel so comfortable with his statement.
He clarified his opinion in an apology, writing later, “In discussing the uses of the word “hero” to describe those members of the armed forces who have given their lives, I don’t think I lived up to the standards of rigor, respect and empathy for those affected by the issues we discuss that I’ve set for myself. I am deeply sorry for that.”
He continues: “As many have rightly pointed out, it’s very easy for me, a TV host, to opine about the people who fight our wars, having never dodged a bullet or guarded a post or walked a mile in their boots. Of course, that is true of the overwhelming majority of our nation’s citizens as a whole. One of the points made during Sunday’s show was just how removed most Americans are from the wars we fight, how small a percentage of our population is asked to shoulder the entire burden and how easy it becomes to never read the names of those who are wounded and fight and die, to not ask questions about the direction of our strategy in Afghanistan, and to assuage our own collective guilt about this disconnect with a pro-forma ritual that we observe briefly before returning to our barbecues.”
Finally, he concludes, “But in seeking to discuss the civilian-military divide and the social distance between those who fight and those who don’t, I ended up reinforcing it, conforming to a stereotype of a removed pundit whose views are not anchored in the very real and very wrenching experience of this long decade of war. And for that I am truly sorry.”
What do you think of Hayes’ statements?