This Memorial Day, I had a few requests to rerun a piece I did last year..and since I still think it's quite relevant in view of some recent remarks and actions by President Obama and a number of others, here it is:
A big story over the Memorial Day weekend concerned one Chris Hayes, a commentator over at MSNBC who celebrated Memorial Day by announcing how uncomfortable he was with referring to our fallen warriors as heroes.
CHRIS HAYES: Thinking today and observing Memorial Day, that'll be happening tomorrow. Just talked with Lt. Col. Steve Burke, who was a casualty officer with the Marines and had to tell people [inaudible]. Um, I, I, ah, [Steve] Beck, sorry, um, 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." Um, and, ah, ah, why do I feel so comfortable [sic] about the word "hero"? I feel comfortable, ah, 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.
This sounds like the sort of double talking faux intellectual rap nerdy poli sci majors use to try and get credulous freshman girls out of their panties at an Obama after party once a few joints have made the rounds.
Nevertheless, I have to give Mr. Hayes credit.
The fact is, most self-styled progressives hate and despise the military. Oh, they'll pay lip service to 'supporting the troops' because, you know, it sounds patriotic and provides them a fig leaf, but the attitude is fairly obvious. To people like Chris Hayes, the people that go into the military are suckers and dupes, and more than one of his comrades on the left have shown that this is exactly how they see it...especially when they think no one's listening too closely.
Hayes, one of the editors of the far Left-wing fringe magazine The Nation was simply being honest, and I commend him for that.
Far less commendable were his efforts to walk things back once he came under fire from the Veterans of Foreign Wars and blogs on the right side of the fence. But then, the species is not noted for its courage.
Even more interesting were the attempts to defend Chris Hayes remarks from the left, most of them again using the usual sophistry to question whether the term 'heroes' is appropriate.
Let's examine something.
At the present time, we have a volunteer military. What that means is that some young men in our society made a choice to restrict their own freedom and risk their lives to defend the rest of us..including the Chris Hayes's of the country. Whether they actually see combat or not, there's a degree of selflessness and honor in doing so that can only be characterized as heroic. And there's always the chance, even in peace time or behind the lines that things can go horribly wrong.
The Left, for instance, has always had a good chuckle over President George W. Bush's Texas Air National Guard service. What never seems to get mentioned is that two airmen in his unit died in training accidents during his service. The risks are always inherent.
People like Chris Hayes don't understand this because increasingly, there's a social and even a regional divide on those whom serve and those whom don't. Because of that, many people who think like Chris Hayes not only have never served in the military themselves, they frequently don't know anyone who has. To them, it seems like anyone who would volunteer for the military is someone beneath them socially and intellectually,someone who had no other option. Especially for patriotic motives, which they also think of as borderline neanderthal. I mean, why would someone risk his life at minimal pay for such a deeply flawed country like America if they were, you know, smart?
That brings up an interesting point. I wonder if Mr. Hayes and his friends on the left have ever considered what it might be like if the military, law enforcement, the whole security apparatus started thinking like they do and looking out for number one?
We actually have an example of what that's like, and it's fairly close at hand.
Just south of our borders, there's a war going on between various drug cartels over control of the drug traffic and Mexico's organized crime industry. The two main players are the old line Sinaloa Cartel and a new, upstart cartel known as the Zetas. Guess where the Zetas came from?
They were originally part of an elite U.S.-trained military force designed to combat and defeat the drug cartels. And at some point, they took a good look at what and whom they were defending for $100 per month, got smart and went into the cartel business for themselves. A large chunk of Mexico's army and police have made the same sort of decision, either by actively getting involved with one of the cartels or passively by taking a payoff to look the other way.
Towards the end of the Western Empire, Rome's legions did exactly the same thing, selling themselves to the highest bidder and even sacking a city here and there. So did the notorious 'Free Companies' in the 14th century during the slack periods of ceasefire during the Hundred Year's War.
That's what happens when patriotism, loyalty and honor are no longer a motive and people with arms who know how to use them 'get smart', look out for number one and start pillaging the elites that used to despise them. And that's something Chris Hayes and his comrades on the Left ought to spend some time thinking about the next time they're tempted to open their mouths in this fashion.
Speaking of which, having dealt with the honest man, let's deal with someone of an entire different sort.
President Barack Obama (aside from apparently confusing Memorial Day and Veteran's Day) had a number of flowery things to say to mark the occasion. Here's a sample:
We’re calling on all Americans to join us in honoring and supporting our extraordinary Vietnam veterans who are among the more than three million Americans who served in that war. There are so many ways to show our appreciation to these veterans and their families, and many of them are available at www.vietnamwar50th.com.
As this anniversary proceeds we will also continue working to ensure that our Vietnam Veterans– and all veterans – receive the services, respect, and support they have earned. Our efforts on behalf of Vietnam veterans are part of our larger effort to make sure our nation is serving all our veterans as well as they served us. And because no veteran who fights for our nation overseas should have to fight for a job when they come home, this country has made it a priority for businesses to hire veterans and provided resources that make it easier for veterans to find a job.
Supporting and honoring our veterans and their families can’t be the work of government and our businesses alone. That’s why the First Lady and the Vice President’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, are leading a national effort, Joining Forces, to mobilize Americans in supporting today’s military families and veterans. Only about one percent of Americans may wear the uniform, but 100 percent of Americans need to be supporting those who do.
Let's take a look at how President Obama has 'supported those who serve', to use his phrase.
Our commander-in-chief showed his support for our military and their families at the beginning of his term by attempting to charge our wounded warriors for the medical care they were receiving for free via the VA, making them take out their own private insurance...this while the president, congress, various apparatchniks and their families get the best medical care available at no charge. He only backed off after the national commanders of veteran's groups like the American Legion and the VFW threatened to make the mother of all stinks over the matter.
President Obama recently doubled down on this 'respect' by slashing VA benefits in his new military budget, specifically from a program many vets depend on called TriCare as part of his crusade to hollow out our military.
Not only that, but the president's remarks on veteran's fighting for jobs must ring maddeningly hollow to career military who have literally been thrown out of the service without the full pensions they were just short of earning, again because of the cuts President Obama mandated.
Then, of course, there were the ongoing efforts by the Obama Department of Justice to disenfranchise military votes overseas during the 2010 midterms.
Not to say that President Obama doesn't find our military useful at times. Aside from taking credit for Admiral McRaven's planning and decisions on the bin-Laden raid, you might remember this president's use of dead military bodies being flown back to American soil as a political photo-op in defiance of Department of Defense regulations,the wishes of the families and simple common decency.
Small wonder that after this kind of 'support' from President Obama, very few veterans are going to vote for him, and we can almost certainly expect another effort by the Department of Justice to disenfranchise as much of our active duty military vote as possible in the coming November election.
You see, when it comes down to it, President Obama has exactly the same attitude towards our military that Chris Hayes does. The difference is that Chris Hayes, just for a minute, decided to be honest about it.
Without question, I prefer the honest man, no matter how flawed and misguided his reasoning.Such men can be worked with, at least on some level. The liar is only fit to be cast bodily out of the Temple.