Babbling Incoherency

Chris Hayes has gotten more attention in the past 24 hours than he has throughout his run at MSNBC. Hayes decided to share his thoughts on the Memorial Day holiday.  Here’s the video:

Here’s an exact transcript of the above.

Thinking today and observing Memorial Day, that’ll be happening tomorrow.  Just talked with Lt. Col. Steve Burke, who was a casualty officer with the Marines and had to tell people [inaudible].  Um, I, I, ah, [Steve] Beck, sorry, um, I think it’s interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words “heroes.” Um, and, ah, ah, why do I feel so comfortable [sic] about the word “hero”?  I feel comfortable, ah, uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don’t want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that’s fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I’m wrong about that.

I’ve chosen this because it underlines what I wanted to write about. Sure the substance is awful enough, but the manner in which it is delivered is so pathetic that it just cries out for mockery. 

First of all, Hayes is a supposedly professional journalist. In other words, the man is paid to go on television and express his opinions. You would think that he’d be able to spit out what he wanted to say without a million “umms” and “ahhhs.” We all have these little ticks in our speech, but we’re also not paid to speak on television. The delivery is so awkward that it almost defies belief that such a poor public speaker could have his own show, even if it is on a network seen by a small handful of people everyday.

Second, if you get through all the stammering, Hayes says absolutely nothing. Oh he gets the point across that he is “uncomfortable” calling fallen soldiers heroes, but he does so in an agonizingly muddled fashion. Look at this sentence:

I feel comfortable, ah, uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war.

I realize that you can’t edit speech in the same way you can edit writing, but there are several ways to phrase the above sentiment in order to get your point across more clearly and concisely. This part is even worse:

But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I’m wrong about that.

What a completely gutless way to express your opinion. Hayes has already set himself up for controversy, so why not just come out and say what he feels? What is with the passive voice and the fear of outright condemnation of the practice of calling soldiers heroes? This isn’t nuance, it’s a pathetic attempt to make a ridiculous proposition sound reasonable.

This is a style of argumentation that drives me bonkers, and I see it on blogs (especially Catholic blogs) all the time. It’s a passive-aggressive style in which the writer – or in this case speaker – cannot make his point of view known in a straightforward manner. He feels the need to throw in some qualifiers, stammer out his uneasiness about expressing this opinion, and then makes an awful attempt to kind of, sort of backtrack but not really. It truly is a cowardly way to argue, as it allows the speaker (or writer) just enough wiggle room to somewhat plausibly deny that he really meant what everyone interpreted his comments to mean. If you have an opinion, just express it. The passive-aggressive style impresses nobody.

Finally, and I recognize that a few of you will tsk tsk at me saying this, but it has to be asked. Why do so many young male progressives sound like valley girls? Hayes is actually not as bad as a lot of other young lefties, though there’s a bit of that affectation in his voice. It’s that rising inflection at the end of declarative sentences uttered in a tone that makes it sound like they just came from a slumber party where everybody painted their toenails. I believe that Rush Limbaugh has called this set the “new castrati,” and I happen to think it’s a good fit. Yes it’s superficial and petty, but I happen to think it’s also kind of funny.

 

11 Responses to Babbling Incoherency

  • “Finally, and I recognize that a few of you will tsk tsk at me saying this, but it has to be asked. Why do so many young male progressives sound like valley girls?”

    I think that John Stuart Mill summed it up long ago: ” A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

  • “If you have an opinion, just express it. The passive-aggressive style impresses nobody.”

    Indeed. Although to take courage from your convictions, you actually have to possess convictions and not opinions that you can discard like used kleenex when the heat is on.

  • He has apologized:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/28/chris-hayes-uncomfortable-soldiers-heroes_n_1550643.html?ref=tw

    MSNBC is a leftist bubble, and this guy, judging from his bio, has lived in a leftist bubble his entire life. Contempt for the US military is an axiom of the modern left in this country. What he was mouthing would have been considered a harmless platitude in his circles. The firestorm that fell down on him probably shocked and alarmed him. Few political movements have been so completely out of touch with most of the population of their country as the contemporary left in the US.

  • This is a style of argumentation that drives me bonkers, and I see it on blogs (especially Catholic blogs) all the time. It’s a passive-aggressive style in which the writer – or in this case speaker – cannot make his point of view known in a straightforward manner.

    I think it is legitimate to offer tentative opinions. He does not do it well, but that is another matter.

    Contempt for the US military is an axiom of the modern left in this country.

    For the bulk of the academic and journalistic subcultures, no doubt. Electoral politicians not so much. There are also a broad swath of exceptions. I do not think the editorial line of Dissent or The Atlantic is hostile to the military per se.

    The palaeo set make use of a different array of forensic tricks, but their attitude is not much better.

  • American soldiers are volunteers. Any who serve in a battle zone are heroes and deserve our gratitude and the care it takes to make them whole again after they return. Sending these heroes into jeopardy should only be done as a last resort. The cost of killed and wounded soldiers in the middle east has been very high. Protecting America’s vital interests are one thing but trying to spread Democracy in places that regard us as infidels doesn’t make sense to me. May God Bless the American military.

  • The really sad part of it is that Hayes is one of the best people on the channel. From my limited viewing of him, he’s decent, but uncritically accepts the nostrums of the left as fundamental. But he does so in an unfanged way that seems genuine, and he isn’t afraid to have real conservatives on the set.

    In short, I think he could be reasoned with productively, as opposed to the genuinely malevolent voices at the network.

  • The “man” is a panty-waist who most likely can’t even spell “military service”. It is astounding to me how many people do not know about or appreciate what it takes to give years of your life to go to a foreign land and try to do the best job you can, even if it kills you. Our country is quickly slipping into an abyss because of people like Hayes. The majority has little or no voice anymore. Why? We have given up our faith in God to a belief in the sins of “self”. Peace and God bless.

  • It didn’t seem like wiggle room to me. I’d rather have people say “I could be wrong” more often.

    In fact, it was a perfect thing for him to say. He has the impression that our talk of heroism leads us to glorify war. I think he’s wrong. But he shouldn’t apologize for thinking that way, or saying it. Anyone who’s served will tell you about the dangers of glorifying war.

  • Never heard of Chris Hayes until this flap arose.
    Fr. Vincent Ferrer Bagan at dominicanablogcom writes that St. Thomas Aquinas indirectly tells us we practice the virtue of justice by giving what is due to them when we honor and pray for those who died in war. “We do this because the sacrifices they made have contributed to the freedom and stability of this country…We can never fully repay them.”
    Personally, I’ll go with that.

  • “Rush Limbaugh has called this set the “new castrati,” and I happen to think it’s a good fit. “

    I think its a great fit. And hilarious too. :lol:

    I get annoyed when these morons say that memorialising our war dead and heroes , “are glorifying war.”
    That is shear stupidity, and a rallying cry of the pacifist gutless crowd.
    Its not glorifying war at all – its glorifying the heroic sacrifice that these men and women make: “A greater love no man has, that he lays down his life for his friend.”
    – and for the freedom of others.

  • Well said Don! The argument of Hays was the equivalent of saying that by celebrating police or firemen we are pro-criminal or pro-fire.

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