Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Chris Hayes tells truth; then apologizes

MSNBC commentator Chris Hayes has gotten into some trouble for comments he made yesterday about the use of the word "hero" in reference to US military personnel. The relevant segment begins around 6:30:




In essence, Hayes thinks the word is overused; the overuse makes it too easy to justify wars that have no justification (think all the wars the US has been involved in since WWII).  Hayes is right of course, and it was good to see fellow linguist John McWhorter and other panel members agreeing.

The fact that he felt a need to apologize reflects the fetishization of the military and war that permeates US culture.  We dare not question the actions of our Dear Leaders without feeling the consequences.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

Here's my Memorial Day offering: Pete Seeger sings "Bring Them Home," probably sometime in the 1970s.


Since WWII, virtually every military action carried out by the US has been an action of choice. None have involved the threat of invasion or even attack. Think Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, the Balkans, and all of what has happened in the Middle East. Add to this our military "advisors" in Central America and elsewhere, who have been busy training the military in these areas in the arts of intimidation, torture, and disappearance.  We are a nation addicted to War.  We use the manufactured separations and homecomings to promote a false sense of solidarity and to give ourselves feel-good moments, especially around major holidays (think Thanksgiving, Christmas). In our highly independence-trained, individualistic culture, War becomes the drug that feeds our buried need for sociality.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cultural relativism

This is important. Not only for these young women, but also for a real understanding of the anthropological concept of cultural relativism. Contrary to its detractors, cultural relativism does NOT mean "anything goes." Especially not when some cultural practice is objectively harmful to those it is practiced upon.