Friday, June 01, 2012

No Heroes

This guy on cable news expressed skepticism about calling all American soldiers heroes and conservatives wanted to hang him for treason.  But he was absolutely correct.  I don't think we should call anyone a "hero" even if many people act heroically from time to time.  So you object and ask, "fine, but will you admit that all American soldiers are heroic?"

"No," I would reply.  Brave more likely than heroic.  You have to be brave to risk going into a war zone, don't you think?  But heroic?  You need to do a bit more.  Save someone's life, or leak classified information, something like that.

There's also a lot of hypocrisy involved in honoring the troops and calling them heroes.  I don't think we should call them heroes, but I do think that veterans deserve excellent, free health care; the government that they purportedly served should not let them become homeless or put more resources into incarcerating them than ensuring they have what they need to stay healthy and support their families.  But a lot of the chest beaters who believe the cable news host did not adequately venerate the warriors who protect freedom and the American way by signing up for the military and thus agreeing to land on a grenade to protect an American flag if need be, likely don't think much about these mundane issues like healthcare, mental healthcare or substance abuse treatment for veterans.  Those crazy people who end up in prison aren't heroes after all, even if they developed mental illness murdering people for American imperialism.

Which reminds me of why I don't like calling anyone a "hero."  I have as much trouble with that as calling someone a "demon" or "villain."  It doesn't acknowledge the humanity in all of us.  We are all capable of heroic feats (well maybe not Donald Trump) and we can just as easily succumb to bad behavior.  We can become ill or fall on serious bad luck, but we can also rise to the occasion or find ourselves in a position of great privilege.  Our circumstances play a big role in all of that, of course.  Furthermore, we can do something heroic one day and something selfish the next.  If the brave guys who killed Osama Bin Laden end up using food stamps in 20 years, are they still heroes (not that I think the guys who killed Osama Bin Laden are heroes necessarily - it is really an example for those folks who believe they are); what if they shoplifted some baseball cards from a Mom and Pop store in America's heartland when they returned to the U.S.?

So I agree with the guy on cable news – ChrisHayes – even though I think MSNBC hires too many white guys who hold uninteresting opinions.  Enough with the hero talk.  You joined the military, maybe with good intentions, maybe with bad intentions, maybe because some recruiter told you when you were 17-years-old that they'd pay for college, you'd get to see the world, and you'd never see combat if you just sign on the dotted line; good for you, but that doesn't make you a hero.

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