Chris Hayes, host of MSNBC's weekend morning talk show "Up," has apologized for comments he made on Sunday about use of the word "hero" to describe fallen U.S. soldiers.
After an interview with Lt. Col. Steve Beck, a former Marine whose job was to notify military families of the death of a loved one, Hayes described his personal discomfort with the term "hero."
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"I feel uncomfortable about the word 'hero' because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war," Hayes said. "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, 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."
The comments, coming on the eve of Memorial Day, sparked a near-immediate backlash. On Monday, Hayes apologized.
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"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," Hayes wrote in a blog post on his show's website. "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.
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