Chris Hayes is right, before the apology.

I don't watch a lot of television; in fact, I don't have cable or satellite at all, so any television I watch is 1-local or 2- streaming. What I do watch though is hockey on our NBC affiliate; I watch The Rachel Maddow show and Up with Chris Hayes the mornings and afternoons after they air (MSNBC streams their shows on-line). Otherwise I watch the BBC on-line some times, and I love Netflix for the weird indie movies and documentaries. [Two good places to get good docus is Top Documentary Films, and Documentary Heaven, you can stream them.]

I watched Chris Hayes' morning show Sunday night, and enjoyed it very much. He said something that made a media shit storm yesterday (Memorial Day). He said that he was uncomfortable calling every single soldier who died in combat a hero.

I agree with him.

You can see the text of what he said, here, at HuffPo, and there is the vid, if you want to see him yourself.

I think it's interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words "heroes." Why do I feel so [uncomfortable] about the word "hero"? I feel comfortable -- 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: 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. [emphasis added]

Chris Hayes never said that soldiers were worthless, or crap, or less than.
He never said they weren't good people.
He merely said that the word hero is very politicised and he feels that it's used to browbeat people into supporting a war he is against.

Damn, sounds like something I'd say.

I have an in, though, something Hayes doesn't have: I'm comfortable in and out of the military life. I was the daughter of a soldier, was one, and even married one. My ex still serves in the National Guard.

Let me show you behind the curtain, let me pull it back a bit.
Service Members Are Not All Heroes!

Not the live ones, and not the dead ones.

Raising your hand to swear doesn't make you a good person, even if the affirmation is pretty spiffy:
"I [your name] do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Those aren't magic words. They don't make an evil man good; they don't make a terrible woman a good one. They don't wash away our sins. They might be a talisman to those on the Right who suffer from soldier hero-worship, but they don't make a decent person out of a shitty one.

Believe me, I know.

In my time around and in the military I can count hundreds of soldiers, marines, airman and sailors I've met. Some of them were genuinely lovely people. The kind you want to come to your house, to call your friends. Most of the people I've met though, were shit heads.

People go into the military for a million reasons; college money, power, machismo, travel, "I have to get out of here!" You name it, there's a reason. Every person has two or three of them.

Most soldiers are kids, 18-25 who just needed something that would put food on the table; they needed to get out of the shithole town they were in, get some where they could make something of themselves. The Army seems like a good thing for that. They feed you, clothe you, train you and pay you! It sounds like a hellova deal! After your four or six years you even get money to go to college! Some times, if you're smart enough, you get a signing bonus, too!

Nobility doesn't descend upon you the moment you sign your name on the dotted line.
You're still the asshole you were when  you brushed your teeth this morning. Still the human with too many skeletons, too much stupidity, and too many bad decisions. You're still a human.

The same goes when we die.

Dying has long been treated as the instant-sin-remover in human society. We "can't speak ill of the dead", just in case their ghosts are around, and they get mad and haunt us! I mean, damn, they might be listening right now! Bad luck for everyone! Crops die, babies get sick, animals run away, milk curdles!

This is 2012, people. Dead people, they're dead. They aren't going to haunt us. They are Dead! The part of them that we valued, loved, respected, hated, reviled, despised, whatever, is gone. Their chemical processes have stopped, thinking ceases, their heart rests permanently and they are not there any more.

What happens to us after we die is up for debate. We honestly do not know.

We want to believe that there is a place of rest and peace for good people, and punishment for bad people. Some religions teach this; others teach that we get reincarnated. But as much fun as it is to study and discuss religions and philosophies, we don't have the faintest clue what happens when we close our eyes in death. Could be nothing at all. That could be the end of everything. We can't figure out how consciousness works, so what arrogance we display pretending to know what happens when we die!

The same thing happens to the memories of people who died.
No matter how awful they were to us, we pretend as though dying redeems them. Dying, the great equaliser, makes sinners into saints, and saints into demi-gods, paragons of virtue, the lot of them. Every person who has ever lived turns into a perfect angel when they die.

That's bull shit!

Humans are humans. We are animals, and some times we act like we're nothing more than thoughtless carnivorous beasts. We hurt people who love us; we lie, we steal, we murder, we rape. We pillage the earth and each other. We send other people's kids to war, and act like we're sacrificing ourselves; we're hypocrites; we use religion an excuse to be really nasty to each other. We take everything, and still want more. Humans are fucking useless.

We're also amazing, incredible animals. We love, without reason, and so deeply that we are willing to kill and die for each other; we create beautiful and thought-provoking works of art and writing. We make poetry, good and bad; we dream, we hope. We laugh. We work for a better tomorrow. Some times, humans are wonderful.

But dying doesn't make us good. Dying doesn't wash away our sins; it doesn't make the marks against us on that Cosmic Scale go away; it doesn't instantly give us a Karmic boost. If you lived your life as a nasty, power-hungry, bullying, raping bastard, then when you die, you should be remembered as exactly that. I don't care if you died throwing yourself on a grenade for your buddies-- you were an evil person! One good act doesn't wash away all those evil ones.

There are a lot of Americans who believe that joining the military automatically makes you an hero-in-waiting. The moment you step foot in theatre you get your hero-upgrade. [In-Theatre means the place where the war is. Right now, it's Afghanistan.]

This is the biggest load of horse-shit you can try to feed people.

American soldiers have done some very un-heroic things. They have urinated on dead bodies, and taken photos of it; they have tortured; they have raped; they have murdered civilians, even small children; they have lied, they have stolen, and they are infinitely human.

If every single service-member who did those above things suddenly died, they would not be a hero. They would be a dead person, who died before they could be called into account for the evil they did. They would have escaped the law by dying.

If we swallow the lies that "all war dead are heroes" then we have to redeem the memory of Adolph Hitler.

Hitler was a soldier; he died in a time of war; he died in a justified war-- that's one that very few people would disagree with the need for; he died for something he believed in. Therefore, following the logic of these American hero-worshippers, Hitler was instantly redeemed and has become a hero.


You can't bring up the evil things he did; or said, or supported. You can't remind us of the Final Solution. Don't mention Mein Kampf. You can't bring up his bigotry, misogyny or anti-Semitism.

He's dead, see, a member of the "war-dead"; ergo, he's a hero!

If you find that idea as repulsive as I do, maybe take some time and rethink how you use the word hero. Dying doesn't make you a hero. Living doesn't either. Heroism is something that happens, because of something self-sacrificing you did. Dying in a war, no matter how justified that war might be, does not instantly make you into a heroic person.

Chris Hayes has every right to be uncomfortable christening every single dead soldier as a hero. I'm uncomfortable with it too. Heroism is something sacred; not something we should use as justification. It's very easy to rant and rave about some little dude on television saying something that makes you uncomfortable; it's much easier than looking at why that thought-- that someone else has-- makes you feel that way.

Why does it make people so mad when others question the validity of the hero-stamp being put on every soldier? I think it has to do with the lack of validity that this war has. Very few people support this war, but everyone wants to be thought to support the troops. Easy words. Hard acts.

It's very easy to mock or belittle someone's opinion. Easy to call them a traitor, or unpatriotic. It's much harder to reason out why they might feel the way they feel.

I'd rather be called unpatriotic because I question those in authority; I demand the troops be brought home; I don't support the war, and I don't support the warmongers. Go ahead, call me a traitor. Your words mean nothing to me as you spout your shit from your comfy chair, your high-horse of hypocrisy. Bring on the words. Heaven Forbid you think about them first!

Otherwise, let's just get it over with and name Hitler the Patron Saint of WWII.


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