Saturday, November 10, 2012

On faux patriotism and propaganda

This weekend a number of college football and basketball teams will wear what Uniwatch blogger Paul Lukas' refers to as their G.I. Joe uniforms. The ostensible purpose is to commemorate Veteran's Day. The real purpose, however, is to serve the needs of the war industry's propaganda machine.

Last weekend the NFL went all gung-ho for war with special ribbon decals on helmets and gaudy displays of faux patriotism at stadium after stadium. The NFL said it was to celebrate Veteran's Day. Nope. It was more pro-war propaganda.

This entire notion that we are "supporting the troops" sprung out of President Bush the Elder's war in the Persian Gulf. You remember that one, don't you? Our government supposedly sent our young people to die in the desert to "liberate" Kuwait from Iraq. We went to "liberate" a dictatorship that repressed dissent. Now that's something to die for.

In order to sell this war to the American people the war industry's propaganda machine came up with the idea of "supporting the troops." Not supporting the war, mind you, just supporting the young men sent to die so a dictator and his family could profit from oil in the ground. The military had learned its lesson in Vietnam. It was somehow deemed unpatriotic if you didn't support the troops. Of course, supporting the troops was the same thing as supporting the war - it's just that a whole bunch of folks bought the propaganda hook, line and sinker.

Now with interest in the Afghan war cratering by the minute - and with some calling for massive cuts in defense spending - here comes the war machine again. Dress up those college kids in camo uniforms. Convert helmet logos into desecrated flags. Parade soldiers in their uniforms around the stadium. Celebrate the killing of young people around the world.

The kids do as they're told. The coaches and administrators have the power to stop this charade - but they are too enticed by the money being waved in front of them by ESPN and the uniform makers. They are the ones raking in the bucks - and they should be ashamed of themselves.

War is not glorious. War is not civilized. War is about death and destruction. If we're going to force pro-war propaganda down peoples' throats then we also need to see the caskets bearing the remains of dead soldiers being offloaded from the planes. We need to see pictures from the battlefield of young men on the ground bleeding and dying. We need to see pictures of the civilians killed by mortar fire and bombs. If the American people were to see those pictures on a nightly basis the pro-war hysteria would disappear in a hurry and we would stop burning money by handing it to the Pentagon and their crooked contractors.

Tomorrow is Veteran's Day. It's not pro-war day. It's not support the latest war day. It's a day to remember those men and women who wore a uniform and went where they were told to go and did what they were told to do. It's about remembering those men and women who fought on the battlefields of Europe and Asia fighting the fascists in World War II. It's about remembering the men and women who manned the lines in our proxy wars with China in Korea and Vietnam. It's about remembering the men and women who were exposed to enemy fire in the Bushes' wars for oil. It's about remembering the men and women who faced death in Afghanistan and Iraq because President Obama didn't have the will to end those wars.

The last war this nation fought that had a noble purpose was World War II. The wars and conflicts since then have all been about defending American imperialism or making the world safe for oil companies.

And in each of those conflicts our leaders in Washington had no problem sending thousands of our young people to their deaths. I can't help but think those decisions would have been different had the men who chose to go to war had to fight on the front lines. Or if their children or grandchildren would have to carry out their wishes.

If we really want to support the troops - and honor those who have served in the past - then it's time to bring them home. It's time to stop sending young men and women to their deaths to satisfy the needs of corporations. It's time we realize that war serves no other purpose than to show how little respect we have for life.

No comments: