What Exactly Are "Heroes?"

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What Exactly Are "Heroes?"

Post by sWamp-Ass on Thu May 31, 2012 8:30 pm



“I feel uncomfortable about the word hero because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. And I don’t want to obviously desecrate or disrespect the memory of anyone that’s fallen and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine tremendous heroism, you know, in a hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me we marshal this word in a way that’s problematic. Maybe I’m wrong.”

Chris Hayes

Full Transcript Here





So what was Hayes saying?

Here’s my take:

He was saying that words like “hero” are often used to trumpet and elevate war, to place war beyond scrutiny. And he is troubled by that. “Hero” and “patriotism” are often part of the rhetoric that forbids any questions.

The hyenas on the right wasted no time. They pounced. And Hayes apologized.
“As many have rightly pointed out, it’s very easy for me, a TV host, to opine about people who fight our wars, having never dodged a bullet or guarded a post or walked a mile in their boots,” Hayes said in a statement to the New York Daily News.

But wait, isn’t that exactly what USSA soldiers fight for, our freedom of speech, our right to opine? How many people have opinions about poverty who have never been poor, who attend private schools but bash public schools, who can never get pregnant but express views trashing women who use birth control or choose abortion? The list goes on.

The fact is Hayes isn’t saying anything new about the power of words, jingoism and patriotism. From “All Quiet on the Western Front,” about World War I, to “Slaughterhouse 5” and “Catch-22” about World War II, literature is filled with this kind of agonized debate: Do we cloak the horror and absurdity of war in patriotic glory and heroism? Is it sometimes a cover for wars that have no justification?

Any free society worth the name will not shy away from that discussion.

Linda Ocasio/The Star-Ledger









Were Nazi Soldiers Heroes?
by Jacob G. Hornberger

Have you ever noticed that Nazi soldiers, especially those who died in World War II, are never celebrated as heroes? Why is that? Didn’t they answer the call of their government in time of war? Didn’t they serve their country by loyally obeying the dictates of their government? Weren’t they patriots for their willingness to fight and die for their country?

I’m not talking about soldiers who committed war crimes or who participated in the Holocaust. I’m talking about ordinary German soldiers, many of whom were civilians before the war started, who fought Allied forces in North Africa, at the Battle of the Bulge, on the Eastern front, and elsewhere.

Why aren’t those Nazi soldiers treated as heroes? Didn’t some of them fight as courageously and heroically as British, Soviet, or American soldiers? Why are they not honored as heroes as much as Allied soldiers are?

Indeed, why aren’t German citizens during World War II honored for having come to the support of their government during a time of war? Didn’t the German people do what citizens are supposed to do? Sure, Germany ended up losing the war but no one can say that the average German citizen didn’t do everything he could to win the war.

Yesterday, the Washington Times went on the attack against MSNBC host Chris Hayes for questioning the automatic invocation of the term ‘heroes’ to describe American soldiers who have died in America’s many wars. The Times wrote:

The word “heroes” has been used to describe America’s fallen for more than 200 years. It’s not “rhetorically proximate” to justifications for war but a traditional mark of gratitude and respect for the sacrifice made by the person who was killed and the family members left behind. It’s a way of recognizing that regardless of how a person died, he did so in service to the country. It’s not a glorification of war but a solemn acknowledgment of sacrifice.

What’s not clear from the Times’ position, however, is whether the principles it enunciates apply only American soldiers or to soldiers in every country. Applying the standard set forth by the Times, would it be appropriate for Germans to use the word “heroes” to describe Germany’s fallen in the many wars in which Germany has been involved, including World War II? Could it be said that describing Nazi soldiers killed in World War II as “heroes” would not serve to justify World War II but instead serve simply as a mark of gratitude and respect for the sacrifice made by the German soldier who was killed and the family members left behind? Could it be said that this would just be a way to recognize that regardless of how the Nazi soldier died, he did so in service to his country? Could it be said that describing the Nazi soldier as a hero would not be a glorification of war but rather a solemn acknowledgement of sacrifice?

In other words, would the Times apply its principles regarding war, soldiers, heroism, and patriotism only to the United States or universally?

Or do they apply only to the winners? Do they apply, for example, to the Soviet Union, one of the winners of World War II, which was governed by a brutal communist regime during the war and for decades afterward, a regime that oppressed Jews and others and kept Eastern Europe under its iron boot for decades after the end of the war. Were communist soldiers opposing Nazi soldiers heroes for serving their government during time of war? Were they heroes for their willingness to die to ensure that their country remained under communist rule rather than Nazi rule?

Indeed, how would the Times apply its principles to the Vietnam War, a war that the United States lost? Surely, it would say that American soldiers who served in Vietnam or who died there were heroes, except perhaps for the ones who committed war crimes. Would it say the same about North Vietnamese communist soldiers or about the Viet Cong?

It seems to me that the reason that Nazi soldiers have never been honored as heroes is because the world has long held Germany to a different standard than the one that the Washington Times applies to the United States. Both German soldiers and the German citizenry should have made a critical examination of what their government was doing and realized that their government was in the wrong. On reaching that determination, it was the duty of the individual soldier to refuse to participate in the military, and it was the duty of the citizen to oppose his government, even in time of war.

Obviously, the Nazi government didn’t take that position. Its position was that it is the solemn duty of the citizen to come to the support of his government in time of crisis or war. The Hitler regime viewed the citizen who joined the Nazi armed forces as a hero for his willingness to fight and die for his country. The German people who supported the troops and the rest of the government were looked upon as patriots.

Isn’t that the same standard adhered to by many Americans with respect to America’s wars, soldiers, and citizenry?

There were some German citizens who said no. Among them were Hans and Sophie Scholl and the members of a secret organization called the White Rose. Their position on patriotism was entirely different from the official one. They felt that it was the duty of a citizen to make a critical examination of his government’s policies. That’s what the White Rose members did, and they concluded that the Nazi government was in the wrong. Thus, the White Rose group not only opposed their government in the middle of World War II, they also exhorted the German citizenry, including German soldiers, to rise up and overthrow the Hitler regime.

Not surprisingly, the German authorities considered the White Rose members to be bad people and unpatriotic Germans, which is why they executed them. Personally, I happen to believe that they were among the most courageous and heroic people in history.

In 1951, during the Korean War, Leonard E. Read, the founder of The Foundation for Economic Education, wrote one of the most thought-provoking essays ever written, entitled. “Conscience on the Battlefield.” In that essay, Read stated that from a moral standpoint, no soldier can ever escape the consequences of his individual actions during war simply by later telling God that he was following orders or loyally serving his government during time of war. It was incumbent on each soldier, Read stated, to make a personal determination as to whether the killing he was ordered to do was morally justified and could be reconciled with the soldier’s individual conscience.

In my opinion, Read and the White Rose people had it right. The genuine patriot stands and fights for his government when it is right and he refuses to support it and even opposes it when it is in the wrong. That’s the type of courage and heroism that enlightens a country, not the blind type of “my government, right or wrong” type of patriotism and heroism that afflicted Nazi Germany and that continues to afflict people in many other countries today.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.
Source/More Here.


Last edited by sWamp-ass on Thu May 31, 2012 8:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: What Exactly Are "Heroes?"

Post by sWamp-Ass on Thu May 31, 2012 8:31 pm


EDITORIAL: Our war dead: Heroes or dupes?
MSNBC host accidentally admits what liberals think about our troops

An MSNBC host issued an apology for saying he is “uncomfortable” calling America’s fallen troops heroes on Memorial Day weekend. His gaffe was to say what most leftists firmly believe.

Chris Hayes, who appears on MSNBC and is editor-at-large for the left-wing magazine the Nation, created instant controversy Sunday when he said, “I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words ‘heroes.’ … I feel comfortable - uncomfortable - about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.”

The quote went viral after it was linked on the Drudge Report, and, on Monday, Mr. Hayes issued an explanation. “In seeking to discuss the civilian-military divide and the social distance between those who fight and those who don’t,” he wrote, “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.”

The word “heroes” has been used to describe America’s fallen for more than 200 years. It’s not “rhetorically proximate” to justifications for war but a traditional mark of gratitude and respect for the sacrifice made by the person who was killed and the family members left behind. It’s a way of recognizing that regardless of how a person died, he did so in service to the country. It’s not a glorification of war but a solemn acknowledgment of sacrifice. The other heroes - the people who engage in extraordinary acts of bravery and are recognized with medals or other official citations - are mostly uncomfortable with the term and generally don’t call attention to their deeds. The American warrior has never been a braggart.

It’s important that Mr. Hayes apologized for his tactless quip, but it accurately reflected the extreme liberal beliefs about those who serve in uniform. To the left, troops killed in war are not heroes but victims. They are at the mercy of poor economic conditions that drive them unwillingly to enlist, enticed by promises of pay and benefits and fooled by phony patriotic appeals. They are then turned into brainwashed robots, shorn of individuality and creativity and forced to live in an uncaring hierarchy where their only duty is unhesitatingly to follow orders. They are sent to fight illegitimate wars foisted on America to protect the interests of the rich and powerful. When they are killed, it’s usually by someone legitimately defending his homeland against imperialist invaders.

MSNBC viewers and readers of the Nation have heard propaganda like this before. Mr. Hayes caught attention by mentioning his discomfort on the weekend when it would be most offensive to most people. Americans should push back against the liberals’ patronizing and contemptuous line on the troops more often, but don’t expect apologies very often.

The Washington Times

Source/More Here.

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