In response to what shall henceforth be known as HeroGate, Hamilton Nolan at Gawker has penned what I’d say is the end-all be-all of write-ups concerning the transparently vacuous outrage over MSNBC’s Chris Hayes’s meek statement about how U.S. soldiers are inherently sanctified as “heroes” of unquestionable valor as a tactic for crushing any possible nuanced discussion about the role the U.S. Military is being made to play around the world. The entire thing is a must-read, but I thought these closing paragraphs were worth highlighting all on their own:
"I contribute nothing of consequence to this country, yet I reap tremendous financial benefits from it. Therefore I must pay the emptiest sort of lip service to those in the military, and childishly insult anyone who questions the kindergarten version of 'patriotism,' lest the public turn its attention to me," say the terrified, self-serving and ultimately useless pundit class of America, in a single voice.
Patriotism is not the act of mouthing platitudes about Heroes and God and Country as politicians go and start wars for money and send off young men and women to die. If the media can do anything patriotic, it is to loudly question the many varieties of bullshit that are used to pave the way for public support of wars. The 6,472 Americans who've died in Iraq and Afghanistan might have appreciated that more than being praised as "heroes" by the same members of the media that did nothing to stop them from being killed.
Isn’t it interesting how the most strident supporters of endless war and its participants are consistently those who actually have the least of importance or relevance to say about it? Or how those most eager to defend and uphold the childish deification of U.S. soldiers never falter as their government continually ships them off to get shot and blown apart overseas on an increasingly thin platter of excuses?
As has been said (least of all by me), there is certainly nothing wrong with holding a healthy respect for members of the armed forces, both for their personal sacrifices and whatever causes drive them to enlist in the first place. And it’s obvious that a great many of them truly do qualify as “heroes” under any definition. But the problem arises when this reasonable appreciation is heightened to levels of pure worship and propaganda, particularly by military cultists who make sure to stay clear from the very hardships they’re so eager to put their beloved soldiers through.