A Waste of a Good Argument

29 May

Iraq Veterans Against the War I don’t know what Chris Hayes is apologizing for – or if this is an apology.

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.

Call me incendiary, but part of what service members die for IS any American’s right to infuriate anyone, as long as the cause is just and the argument is valid. The problem with Hayes’ soliloquy was, that he muddled the issues. let’s all talk about the draft, not just so we can call ourselves “heroes”, but so that we can all make better political decisions about war and the role military institutions play in the political process. If some DoD personnel are fighting wars, to pump up their bank accounts, it’s unfair for both those fighting and for those paying. Or, are we all just looking a little too hard for recognition? Hasn’t anyone ever made a decision to do what was successful, but wrong? Obviously, too many critics have not endured enough challenges in their charmed existences.

This is how to treat a perfectly worthless medal!

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