Hayes invested a huge part of his Funeral service Day-themed display on concerns of war and of the people murdered on every side of army disputes, from United states defense force to Afghan ordinary people.
After discussing with a former Sea whose job it was to inform family members of the loss of life of defense force, he converted to his section and, clearly struggling with what to say, brought up the problem of language:
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.Hayes' other panelists indicated identical pain. Linguist and author Bob McWhorter said that he would "almost rather not say 'hero" and known as the phrase "manipulative," even if it was accidentally so.
Hayes then said that, on the other hand, it could be seen as "noble" to be a part of the army. "This is non-reflex," he said, including that, though a "liberal caricature" like himself would not comprehend "submitting so completely to what the voters or individuals in energy are going to choose about using your system," he saw valor in it.
The Country's Liliana Segura then chimed in, saying that "hero" is often used to colour conflicts in a "righteous" way.
"These conflicts in Irak and Afghanistan ... aren't righteous conflicts," she said. "We can't be so reluctant of demeaning a plan."
Hayes' terms triggered a foreseen furor with some. One Tweets individual said that he was "uncomfortable with contacting you an United states."
Others, though, reinforced Hayes. "Questioning-rather than bolstering-orthodoxies is fundamentally questionable," blog writer Glenn Greenwald tweeted. "That's what creates Bob Hayes' display so unusual for TV-& so useful."
UPDATE: Chris Hayes issued a statement on Monday apologizing for his comments:
On Sunday, 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.
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.
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.