RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Kiriakou writes: "I go to a lot of Major League Baseball games. I really love the sport. Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to go to the Washington Nationals' opening day game against the New York Mets. I even caught a foul ball!"

Paid advertisement? A soldier holds an American flag before the first half of a 2013 NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots in Atlanta. (photo: David Goldman/AP)
Paid advertisement? A soldier holds an American flag before the first half of a 2013 NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots in Atlanta. (photo: David Goldman/AP)


MLB Gets in Bed With the Pentagon

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

09 April 19

 

go to a lot of Major League Baseball games. I really love the sport. Two weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to go to the Washington Nationals’ opening day game against the New York Mets. I even caught a foul ball!

But if you’ve been to a baseball game at any time in the last decade, you’ve probably noticed some changes. Military or law enforcement members now perform flag ceremonies before the start of the game. Military recruits are enlisted right on the field. Surprise reunions of deployed men and women and their families play out before an audience of thousands. There’s always the obligatory ovation for wounded warriors. And this year saw a flyover by three F-18 fighter jets during the playing of the national anthem.

The games have morphed into choreographed patriotic events. Who’s paying for all this hoopla? As it turns out, you and I are, through the tax money that we send to the Pentagon.

Former Arizona Republican senators John McCain and Jeff Flake issued a report a few years ago that found that since 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the Pentagon has shelled out at least $6.8 million for Major League Baseball, the National Football League, and other sports leagues to “honor” troops with cheap stunts at sporting events. The details are listed in a new Senate report.

The total tally may top $10 million — and even reach $100 million, if you count the military’s marketing deals with NASCAR.

The senators call this military marketing “paid patriotism.”

For millions of your tax dollars, the Pentagon is buying things like ceremonial first pitches for recent veterans, club-level seats for vets at football games, and airport greetings for returning service members.

If that sounds crass to you, you’re not alone.

“We appreciate if they honor the men and women in uniform, but not to get paid for it,” said McCain, himself a decorated war hero.

“If the most compelling message about military service we can deliver … is the promise of game tickets, gifts, and player appearances,” his report concludes, “we need to rethink our approach to how we are inspiring qualified men and women to military service.”

I’d go further than that.

Patriotism is a good thing. It can be unifying and inspiring. But what we’re seeing at sporting events isn’t patriotism. It’s nationalism — propaganda, even — and it’s potentially dangerous.

The Pentagon even pays for “sponsored” renditions of God Bless America.

Irving Berlin wrote that song in 1918 as a show tune for a revue called Yip Yip Yaphank. Years later, it served as the official campaign song for both Franklin Roosevelt and his Republican opponent Wendell Willkie. In the 1950s it was adopted by the fledgling civil rights movement before becoming a rallying cry for supporters of the Vietnam War in the ’60s.

On September 11, 2001, God Bless America began a new life when members of Congress sang it on the steps of the Capitol — supposedly spontaneously — as they gathered to mourn the terrorist attacks from earlier that day.

Since then, it’s become an official part of Major League Baseball games. In several stadiums the tune has replaced Take Me Out to the Ballgame in group sing-alongs during the seventh-inning stretch.

In fact, this former show tune has become mandatory in some places.

In 2008, a fan at Yankee Stadium was restrained and then ejected by police officers for attempting to leave his seat for the restroom while the song was playing. The following year, three minor league fans of the now-defunct Newark Bears were ejected from the stadium for refusing to stand during the song.

If it’s freely chosen, standing for the national anthem is patriotic. Forcing people to stand for God Bless America isn’t. This is about more than taxpayer money. The government has no business propagandizing the American people.

Email This Page


John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act – a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+29 # wilhelmscream 2019-04-09 15:06
Exploitation of the taxpayer’s money, must stop NOW!!
 
 
+38 # margpark 2019-04-09 18:02
While I am not a sports fan, we all know the controversy stirred up about black football players kneeling during the National Anthem. I wondered at the time why the National Anthem was played at a football game. Didn't seen necessary or even appropriate. Have we been building up to the present Nationalism and specifically white nationalism ever since 9/11? It is now at full flower in the White House.
 
 
+45 # chemtex2611 2019-04-09 18:07
I'm a clarinet player since junior high school. Most times, I am playing the national anthem, and I never stand. No one expects us to stand.

Moreover, God Bless America is sometimes played for 4th of July, but no one ever stands for that song. It was written by Irving Berlin for World War 1 and reworked for WW2 and became Kate Smith's song.

I'm surprised the MLB chose it for their anthem, because most Klan member oppose it, as written by a Jew. Go figure !

I've always wondered how loud you need to sing God Bless America to get God to forget what you did to the black citizens in the Us, what you did to the Viet Nam vets that you flew directly home after a tramatizing year, what you did to our Mexican and Central American neighbors when they asked to come to live with us for a safe and secure life?
Maybe we should just say, "We're sorry and will try to do better" and hope God will eventually forget what he saw us do......
 
 
+11 # Anne Frank 2019-04-10 09:51
Not to mention what you did to the people of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia!
 
 
+38 # Tjerzyk1 2019-04-09 18:14
Well said. As you say this has been the case for years, increasing over time, it seems. Did you see the opening of NCAA Final four? Such an effort to militarize our society. I reject it.
 
 
+3 # chapdrum 2019-04-11 10:57
T1-As a Jeopardy! watcher over the years, I've noticed that one of the frequent categories is the Bible and/or biblical figures (as recent as last night). That is surely done on purpose, as is the conflation of pro (and even collegiate) sports with the military.
 
 
+38 # carp 2019-04-09 19:21
This all fits in the "Take a Knee" campaign as well. Prior to this paid "patriotism" more accurately nationalism the players stayed in the locker rooms. Someone had the bright idea to parade the players out for the National Anthem. Many players elected to take a knee because they felt they are not treated as full citizens.
 
 
+13 # randrjwr 2019-04-09 21:28
Quoting carp:
This all fits in the "Take a Knee" campaign as well. Prior to this paid "patriotism" more accurately nationalism the players stayed in the locker rooms. Someone had the bright idea to parade the players out for the National Anthem. Many players elected to take a knee because they felt they are not treated as full citizens.


What a shame that the whole damned team doesn't "take the knee." I think they should.
 
 
+13 # revhen 2019-04-09 19:56
This paid patriotism has infected not only baseball but also football. And probably other sports, too. I love my country and always will but this stuff disgusts me.
 
 
+6 # ourconstitution.info 2019-04-09 22:43
Beyond the types of interactions mentioned in this article, which some clearly disagree with, I think more effort should go towards building a better personal understanding between the military and civilians in the US. Some countries that have mandatory military service for example, seem to have a healthier respect for and understanding of combat, weaponry, etc. Because everyone must participate in this, everyone is invested in safety, using military might carefully, and there is a greater congruity and sense of responsibility in these regards. The gun violence is often less in these countries as well. I don't think it can be a good thing for the military to be so present in many cities here, yet civilians hardly ever see or speak with these personnel. Interesting too, unlike how civilians treasure our first amendment rights, the military has had to strictly follow orders without question. Although, because the nature of warfare is changing, the increased use of critical thinking and reasoning is being studied by the military. I think that type of training is more in-line with our values here and will lead to more responsible and efficient outcomes. It only makes sense that we would have a more cohesive and productive nation if the military and the civilian population were more interactive and symbiotic.
 
 
+7 # rxfxworld 2019-04-10 21:44
@ourconstitutio n.info You may be too young to remember that our responsibilitie s as citizens to defend our country by military participation, was untethered deliberately by Richard Nixon who ended the draft--the same one that Agent Orange evaded with deferments and bone spurs--so that there would be no or fewer anti-war protests. It's middle class folks who protest our unnecessary wars, now fought for us by the poor with few choices for other employment.
 
 
+10 # johnescher 2019-04-10 06:34
I may already have been inclined to like the late John McCain despite myself, but this article makes me really like him.

But I'd go further than he, I'm sure. No serving or talk of military stuff at any sporting event. All emphasis on the sport itself.
 
 
+13 # Floridatexan 2019-04-10 06:50
I was looking over at my neighbor's flag this morning and thinking it should be flying upside down.
 
 
+11 # tr4302@gmail.com 2019-04-10 08:39
More Militariry-Indu strial and now sporting complex? Give us a break!
 
 
+10 # Anne Frank 2019-04-10 09:55
The pollution of sports and virtually all other public spectacles with government propaganda conflating patriotism with militarism began at least as early as World War I, with Yankee Doodle Dandy. Today most Americans are ready to accept a military dictatorship.
 
 
+4 # johnescher 2019-04-10 10:57
Quoting Anne Frank:
The pollution of sports and virtually all other public spectacles with government propaganda conflating patriotism with militarism began at least as early as World War I, with Yankee Doodle Dandy. Today most Americans are ready to accept a military dictatorship.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yankee_Doodle
 
 
+5 # wilhelmscream 2019-04-10 12:22
As I watched the Sox game yesterday, I stood 4 the Canadian anthem b/c I feel that I would be treated better by Canada but, I will still root 4 Boston!
 
 
+6 # chapdrum 2019-04-11 10:53
The perennial conflation with pro sports and the military. Related observation: All of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. for the past several years have been committed by Caucasian males.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN