Cognition & Reality

Monday, 9 November 2009

Sports Announcing Doublethink

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 5:05 pm

I love sports, particularly baseball and football. One drawback to being a TV spectator, however, is the announcers’ attitudes, particularly those regarding our country.  It is hard for me to think of an announcer who does not see it as part of his job to boost “patriotism” sanctimoniously and often. I include, of course, the best of all, Vince Scully, who is careful to keep hidden his views on many subjects. Although he is probably quite conservative, I would not be surprised, given where he is from, that he is a Democrat. But who knows? What we do know is that he never misses an opportunity to tout the greatness of the United States and of our military. He is not alone.

On Saturday, when I tuned in a few minutes after the hour to ESPN’s pregame college football show, the first thing I heard was some color guy or coach who happened to be walking by go on at length about the patriotic significance of the Air Force Academy game about the commence. He said something to about who the players are and that they know themselves to be part of “the most feared fighting force on earth,” or words to that effect. I know he said “most feared fighting force.” Why is that good? Is that what this country has come to? We supposed to be  proud that everyone else is scared of our military. It is something to contemplate.

But contemplate it the sports guys never do. In the lead up to this Veterans’ Day, of which the AFA game coverage was a part, the viewer has heard it said at least a dozen times that we are proud of our miitary and “thank them for protecting us.” Nobody, so far as I know, questions this inane statement. Even Keith Olbermann, a veteran sports announcer and severe critic of American militarism, does not have the balls to call out those who say this, to say, “That is not true.”

It is far-fetched to claim that our  troops in faraway Western Asia and other places around the globe are protecting us. The presence of American troops in Iraq has made Americans less safe from the beginning, including the Americans there now fighting a colonial war of occupation for reasons that remain murky. The troops in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban aren’t keeping us safe, either, because al-Qaida, the ostensible reason for their being there, has moved its  headquarters to Pakistan. It has never been clear that the sending of tens of thousands of troops against a shadowing criminal conspiracy is a wise use of resources, resembling the apocryphal use of an elephant gun to kill a fly. Our troops are in Germany for no military purpose. Our presence there facilitates the transfer of money from the American economy to the German economy, which has been a feature of our foreign policy since the inception of the Marshall plan. Against what does our enormous navy defend us? We do not know how many nukes remain in their silos, but we do know that it is far more than would ever be necessary for mutual assured destruction (MAD). It is all madness. Nobody makes a peep against it..

So, we are treated year round to this fantasy. We hear it all the time. It mars the studied blandness of our sports broadcasting, I am here to suggest that receiving the message that our troops are protecting us  is unhealthy to the extreme. First of all, it is a falsification, and on that basis alone belongs nowhere, least of all in our recreational activities. More importantly, however, and this a subject to which I return from time to time, believing in a falsification, even a little bit, distorts a person’s view of the world. It is perhaps worst  for those who sense that it is false, because to say it involves the deliberate suspension of disbelief. That is what Orwell called “doublethink.”

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