Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On being a pacifist sports fan

on peace (reposted and revised from November 10, 2009)

This past weekend, several networks showing NFL games used the broadcast as an opportunity to pay tribute to U.S. soldiers currently occupying Iraq and Afghanistan. I've been struggling to articulate why I find these tributes unsettling, and I realized, why even have a little-read blog if not to explore one's own thoughts through writing?

Consider this, then, one pacifist's attempt to explain to himself why these tributes to the troops disturb him.

The "Thank You" contains implicit support of the current wars
Many of the statements of thanks to the soldiers are couched in conventional language: thanks for keeping us safe, thanks for protecting our freedoms, etc. But to thank soldiers currently occupying Iraq and Afghanistan for keeping us safe/protecting our freedoms implicitly assumes that their current mission is necessary to keep us safe/protect our freedoms, and is therefore "good." Such statements of thanks, then, become more commercials for waging these wars.

Perpetual tributes for a state of perpetual warfare
Tributes to serving soldiers have been going on during NFL broadcasts at least since Thanksgiving 2001, shortly after 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan. That means that for eight years, NFL broadcasts during special occasions (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Veterans Day, etc.) have been used to pay tribute to soldiers currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've understood a need to pay regular tribute because we've accepted that U.S. soldiers will be occupying foreign countries for a long time.

The normalization of militarism in culture
Like toy soldiers, military video games, and wearing camouflage for style and fashion, the fusion of military tributes with our sports entertainment just further makes militarism and military values a normal, everyday part of our culture. We accept shows of military virtue as something that is ensconced in all parts of our lives--and thus we perpetuate a culture that supports military violence.

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