I hope you all found something worthwhile in your Memorial Day Weekend. I know I did in mine. It was busy, and it seemed like I spent much of it on the run, but I still found time for the sober reflection that is the reason for the holiday, and heard an excellent sermon on Sunday about reflection and remembrance, the latter being important enough to be mentioned in the Bible more than 100 times.
Then later that evening, I got to watch Courageous, a movie about heroes who made a decision and a committment to be the heroes that every man should be. My oldest son watched it with me, and we had a very good discussion about the various topics raised in the film. It won’t be a candidate for an Academy Award, but I appreciate the fact that people like the producers of this film, and people like Tyler Perry are willing to make movies with small budgets, and short timelines to tell a story that encompasses values no longer embraced by the larger studios.
Then, Monday morning, we finally went to see The Avengers. It didn’t disappoint, but then with Joss Whedon at the helm, it would have been an unpleasant surprise if it did. What did surprise me was the insertion of some lines, and story developments that reflected some values that Hollywood hasn’t been too big on in recent years. I suspect that this was allowed to happen because it was based on comic book heroes, and therefore. those values could be mocked by those who felt the need as childish or simplistic. Sadly, I doubt the message will be received by the rest of Hollywood, much of which chalked the success of The Dark Knight up to “making the character dark”. After all, the truth doesn’t fit the narrative. It was an exhilarating experience to see a story unfold that allowed for sacrifice, determination, and redemption in the characters that didn’t leave me feeling as if the dreams of childhood were retconned by a society that feels an overwhelming urge to “reimagine” and redefine that which it finds itself opposed to.
It was a good weekend that was a celebration of the things that it should have been about, and I felt relaxed and ready when I went to work today. Then I read about Chris Hayes’ shallow pontification over the weekend. If, like me, you were busy having a good weekend, and decided not to shave points off of your IQ by watching MSNBC, let me fill you in on what Chris said in 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,” 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.”
I know what you’re thinking. I didn’t know that Butch Maddow had a brother either. Yes, “Up With Chris Hayes” is a stupid name for television program, as it evokes images of this, which doesn’t really get me thinking “serious credibility” but in its own way, does make a certain sense.
The apology, as predictable as an afternoon rain shower in Florida, came less than 24 hours later, and underscored his focus and the true target of his remarks, demonstrating that he still didn’t understand why what he said was wrong. (Yes, Rutherford, I said “wrong” and not “offensive”. Deal with it. Or don’t.)
Regardless, Hayes issued an apology for his comments on Monday, saying that he was “deeply sorry” for the remarks. “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. He said that he had made a mistake by 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.”
While its fine to oppose war, secure in the knowledge that other will still join the military and lay down their own lives to keep yours safe, to fail to recognize that sacrifice for what it is, and deny them the very basic respect they deserve simply for having made the decision that you wouldn’t (for whatever reason) is the mark of an ingrate. You don’t have to have done it yourself to recognize that signing up (or accepting selection) into a service that will take you far from home and most certainly put you in harm’s way to protect your nation and your loved ones, or to be a part of something much larger than one’s own self-interest and benefit is an act requiring the kind of courage that not everyone choses today. The fact that one would choose to do it, either in the previous administration, or this one, indicates to me that they clearly see something obscured to the Chris Hayeses of the world, and reminds me of a famous movie speech delivered over a decade ago:
“Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinburg? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago, and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to. “
There are many ways to be a hero. Some will cast much longer shadows than others. Some will do it by living up to their responsibilities, no matter how much they would prefer an eternal adolescence, and some will do it by exhibiting valor and great sacrifice, up to and including the one life they have to give, for their country, or for their fellow man. That doesn’t always have to be a conscious decision to charge a machine gun, or exposing yourself to fire, because the first act comes with the decision to serve, and to be a target so that others won’t. It isn’t glamorous, but then, it doesn’t lack conviction, either.