If Hayes' critics merely articulated why they didn't share his perspective, even forcefully, public discourse would've operated as it ought to -- one person makes an earnest, comprehensible, intellectually honest argument; other people respond with assents or counterarguments; the best ideas win. Instead, many of Hayes' critics puffed out their chests, emphasized how outraged they were, and proceeded to either elide or mischaracterize much of what Hayes said.
Said Doug Mataconis, an excellent blogger who is usually better than this (emphasis added):
I suppose the problem I have with Hayes's comments, and with the
comments of those who have been defending him online today, is that the
objection to describing those who have died in service to their country
as heroes isn't based so much in a concern that it diminishes the true
acts of heroism that have occurred, and will continue to occur in
wartime as it is in the fear that acknowledging the sacrifices that
these men, and women, have made would somehow be a political statement.
That strikes me as a deeply myopic, politically-obsessed, view of the
world. Disagreeing with the political decision to go to war should
never, I would submit, be a reason to either denigrate or ignore the
sacrifices that those who served in that war have made, which seems to
be the clear implication of what Hayes and his fellow panelists were
saying in this segment. Individual soldiers are not responsible for the
decisions of those who sent them into battle, and it strikes me as
incredibly callous to dismiss the sacrifices made by those who died in
I opposed the Iraq War. I think our continued mission in Afghanistan
is a big mistake. But, holding those fighting the battle responsible for
that would be a tragic mistake. They did not make the decision to go to
war, and they have no control over when to end it. We have already
dealt in our very recent history with an unpopular war and a group of
veterans and war dead who, for far too long, were forgotten by their
nation, we should not join the Chris Hayes's of the world in doing that
If the implication of Hayes' remarks was that we should denigrate or ignore the sacrifices of our troops, why did he say, as part of his short, controversial monologue, "I obviously don't want to desecrate or disrespect the memory of anyone that has fallen," call them "noble," and dramatize their sacrifice multiple times that same hour? When did he once dismiss, callously or otherwise, the sacrifices of the troops? And how absurdly inflammatory and illegitimate to conflate the suggestion that maybe everyone who dies in a war isn't a "hero," even though they've made a "noble" sacrifice, with the mass jeering and denunciations of those who came back from Vietnam.
Speaking of which, here's Kurt Schlichter of Breitbart.com, employing the ad hominem that is the stock and trade of outraged enforcers of right-wing political correctness, and then continuing the Vietnam comparison:
I greatly enjoy watching progressives seethe as they are forced, for the sake of appearances, to pretend to support our troops. You know it's killing them. But it's the progressives' own doing -- their sickening performance following the Vietnam War, when they figuratively and literally spit on our troops -- so disgusted decent Americans of all political stripes that to do anything but treat our troops with the utmost respect is to draw near-universal contempt and scorn from across the mainstream political spectrum.
So, the real problem for Chris Hayes is that he actually said what he thinks. He thinks our soldiers are suckers and fools at best, brutal sociopaths at worst. At a minimum, he feels that honoring those who died for this country might encourage people to see that actually defending our country is a good thing. He's not quite ready to make that leap; after all, most progressives are ambivalent about this whole "America" concept, if not actively opposed to it.
Taking his inaccuracies in order, Hayes was in fact completely forthright about his opinions -- he wasn't pretending, or being forced to pretend, anything at all; he's in his early thirties, which makes it rather weird to lump him in via plural pronoun with Vietnam-era protestors; he nowhere says, and does not think, that our soldiers are suckers, fools, or sociopaths, and actually says that they are "noble;" he doesn't worry about honoring those who died, and in fact honors them himself; he doesn't worry that the honorific "hero" will encourage people to see America's self-defense as a good thing, he worries they'll see invading countries that pose no threat to us is a good thing; and he is neither ambivalent nor actively opposed to the concept of America.