Monday, May 28, 2012

Today's notion of heroism is debased by warmongers

That there's a manufactured controversy over this is the least surprising thing we've learned in the past 15 minutes. It seems a cable-TV personality has quite logically and legitimately asked a question that we should all be asking -- are we anointing today's war casualties as heroes in order to gin up enthusiasm for war and more war?
MSNBC host Chris Hayes says he has trouble calling fallen soldiers 'heroes,’ sparks controversy  - NY Daily News: "An MSNBC host is dodging attacks after arguing he was “uncomfortable” calling fallen soldiers “heroes.”
Chris Hayes made the remark on Sunday, the eve of Memorial Day, on his show, “Up With Chris Hayes.”
“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.
He added that “there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism, you know, hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers,” but that “it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic.”"
The story from the Daily News goes on to parrot the objections of veterans' groups, and then the lapdog "conservative" media establishment, to deflect any notion that the opinion-makers who set the tone and agenda for popular sentiment are doing so for manipulative and cynical reasons.

Face it: there are certain "truths" in the US that cannot be uttered. First among them, it seems, is that no one can question support for the troops or their sacrifices in any way. To demonstrate even the least doubt in the worthiness of their mission is to denigrate their service and expose oneself to charges of lack of patriotism.

Of course, this is noxious bullshit. The Pentagon and the Masters of War that keep us perpetually entangled in foreign "contingency operations" are conflating the troops' service with the validity of the conflicts into which they're thrust. If one doubts the cause is worthy, one is in effect decreeing that the troops died in vain -- invalidating their sacrifice.

We are, in effect, prohibited from questioning -- much less opposing -- the wars into which the US pours its treasure and its young fighting forces -- to do so is to dishonor the troops, and their sacrifice is beyond the scope of legitimate discussion.

It reminds one of the post-911 interdiction against asking why the US was attacked. To ask why "they" did this to "us" was to legitimize the attackers' motives in some way -- and so one must never bring the subject up. Indeed, there was simply one answer that was appropriate, which everyone learned by heart: they hate us for our freedoms. However lacking in seriousness that glib answer from GW Bush might be, that was the level of discourse that was to be tolerated, period.

So now, we're faced with a similar short-circuiting of thought or discussion about the US' current wars, and the meat-grinder system the government employs to keep feeding human Americans into the machine. The cause is just because the fighting men and women are heroes. We must not debase their sacrifice by questioning the legitimacy or purpose of the enterprise of war-making that the US now operates ceaselessly and without regard for opinions to the contrary.

The knee-jerk reaction to anyone even reflecting on this sordid system of chaos and destruction, and of the enormous waste of life and treasure that it entails. We. Must. Not. Question.

This Memorial Day, it no longer seems relevant to reflect on the sacrifices of those who gave their lives for their country, since to do so is to in effect bless current contingency operations that have neither the legitimacy of a declaration of war, nor the active engagement of the general population both through compulsory service (a draft) as well as the sacrifice impelled when taxation is extracted to finance hostilities.

In the US, we do neither any longer, so war simply seems like a far-away distraction, something to be tolerated from a distance or acknowledged when some Hollywood representation of our service members' tribulations are brought to the big screen. The troops, by their distance both physically and psychologically from the general public, are but an abstraction upon which the equally abstract notions of honor and valor and national salvation are played out on the 6 o'clock news.

Taps sounds, the 21-gun salute is given and the news presenter cuts to commercial, where against the backdrop of and over-sized US flag, the folks back home are enticed with the latest Detroit extravagance -- a gas-guzzling SUV which is the true symbol of the nation's sacrifice: which is no sacrifice at all.

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