Story of the Week
on Up w/ Chris Hayes
I cringed when I saw the headline used to decribe comments I made on this show last Sunday: “msnbc’s Chris Hayes Feels ‘Uncomfortable’ Calling Fallen Soldiers ‘Heroes’ ”.
Here are the remarks that headline was referring to:
It is, I think 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.
Those two words, “uncomfortable” next to “heroes” went viral, and I can understand entirely why someone reading those headlines would think, at a miminum: what a jerk. And in fact I heard from a lot of people saying that and worse. Many of the responses I received on Twitter and via email were profane. Some, including from veterans and active service members, were supportive, or respectfully critical, and some came from people genuinely anguished by what I said. One basically said, “My brother died in Iraq. Who the hell are you to say he wasn’t a hero.” And “uncomfortable”? Really, Mr TV pundit, it causes you discomfort that someone might call my brother a hero. Well too bad.”