I am reposting an earlier piece that has direct bearing on the current hoopla about disrespecting the flag (No, it will not be in the forthcoming book. Sorry). I recently asked the obvious question: why the hell do we sing the national anthem and salute the flag before sporting events? This post answers this question, or at least begins the discussion. Historically I suspect it started soon after (during?) the Second World War. It is clearly jingoistic and designed to instill in all attendees the true spirit of patriotism and love of country. In a word, it is a form of indoctrination. In any event, it is costing each of us a great many tax dollars. Think about that next time you see a “fly-over”!!
As one who has complained from time to time about the role the Department of Defense has played in helping mold the minds of Americans into a shape more malleable to those with deep pockets in this country, I was delighted to read “Point After” in this week’s Sports Illustrated (Nov. 16, 2015) that helps me to make my case. I agree that the point of the SI article was not to take the DOD to task. Rather, it was to take the NFL and other sports groups to task for “paid patriotism” at professional sports games. The teams apparently collect millions of dollars every year.
The article mentions that the DOD paid $879,000 last year to the Atlanta Falcons to put on displays of patriotism before and during games. They also paid the New England Patriots $700,000 according to the article. We can assume other teams received similar amounts of money for the same reason. It goes without saying that this is our tax money, the money the Republicans desperately want to keep flowing in the direction of keeping our nation strong, defending us against ….. what? Disloyal football fans?
We all know about the obscene waste of taxpayer money when it comes to the Department of “Defense.” For example, when I was coaching tennis we shelled out a precious $30,000 for two “Omni” tennis courts as an experiment. If we liked them it was said that we would get four more. This was exciting, since we were playing on six weathered lay-kold tennis courts that saw their better days in 1968, though I never really believed we would ever see four more Omni-courts at that price. In any event, the men who were laying the courts told me they were headed to the Offutt Air Force base just outside of Omaha where they were going to put down 15 of those courts for the officers at the base. That’s nearly a quarter of a million of our tax dollars so the military brass could whack a tennis ball back and forth — when they weren’t playing golf on their own 18 hole golf course. But I digress.
As I say, we all know about such cases of waste of tax monies at a time when Congress cannot find a way to balance the national budget and the Republicans will simply not allow anyone to touch a penny of the “Defense” spending. But let’s reflect on the waste of this money on fly overs and other examples of “paid patriotism” at professional sports games. What are the implications? For one thing, it leads to jingoism, which is often confused with patriotism. The difference is a love of country that leads to such nonsense as “my country, right or wrong.” True patriotism requires a citizenry at least enlightened enough to question what the government is doing and suggest from time to time that what they are doing, (if they are doing anything at all) is simply wrong. But the “paid patriotism” displays are a form of brain-washing that leads people to leave the game convinced that we have the most powerful and greatest country on earth when, in fact, there is much that needs to be improved both at home and in the way we conduct ourselves on the international stage. We have a penchant in this country for telling the rest of the world how to live when our own house is filled with dirt and broken glass.
So there is much to regret when finding out how our government spends our tax dollars. But it is really not that surprising, given the trend I have pointed out numerous times to dumb down this nation and people it with obedient citizens who will do what they are told and agree that what their government does is always the right thing.
Hugh, I am glad you revisited this issue. Optics are given far too much credit than substance these days. In this case, wearing a flag pin, saluting the flag and standing for the national anthem with your hand over your heart mean more than what they stand for. It is akin to the Hollywood facades, where there is no structure behind them.
The fact the man in the White House can denigrate a POW, a Gold Star family and then make an oversight of his political by comparing his efforts to previous Presidents reveals substance is unimportant. His standing at attention during the national anthem, cannot change his loyalty to but one person – himself. Keith
So, let me be sure I am understanding this … the U.S. government (Department of Defense) pays hundreds of thousands of dollars or our tax money every year to the NFL teams to “show patriotism” by standing for the National Anthem? And that is why Colin Kaepernick is an outcast … not because he is raising awareness of systemic racism in the nation, but because he is costing his (former) team money? Oh My Sainted Aunt (thank you, Roger) !!!!!!!!!!
And the officers … the military elite, get special tennis courts and a special 18-hole golf course, again at our expense??? I surely am glad to see my hard-earned money so hard at work! Yessir … let’s keep America “safe” by making sure the elite have the best golf courses and tennis courts … they can beat back the Russians in a nice game of tennis, yes? Paid patriotism indeed!!! Like every other thing in the nation today, it all boils down to money, doesn’t it? Silly me for thinking ideology played any role.
Sorry Hugh … just had that rant bubbling up and I could not stop it. Good post!!!
I share your outrage. It is obscene — especially insight of the amount of money into “Defense” budget (nearly half of our tax money) compared with, say, education!
Yes, somewhere along the line, priorities have become horribly skewed. Sigh.