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Sportscasters and the Troops

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US Troopsby Jacob G. Hornberger

I find it fascinating how American television sportscasters steadfastly hew to the official line regarding the continued occupation of Afghanistan. During virtually every game, the sportscaster will make some reference to U.S. soldiers who have died or lost limbs during the occupation. The sportscaster will remind us that the fallen and wounded have made heroic sacrifices to “defend our freedom” here at home.

Do you ever wonder whether these people really believe this claptrap? After all, we all know what would happen to them if they instead were to say, “Too bad so many soldiers have lost their lives and limbs for nothing or, to be more precise, for the sake of installing and maintaining into power brutal, corrupt, pro-U.S. dictatorships within foreign countries.”

The neocon community in America would go ballistic and rain calumny on the sportscaster and the television station. More important, the federal government, while emphasizing that Americans enjoy freedom of speech, would undoubtedly begin examining whether the station’s broadcast license should be renewed, on unrelated grounds of course.

Mindful of the possibility of losing its license and scared to death of the neocons, most every television station in the country would immediately buckle, fire the sportscaster, profusely apologize, and beg forgiveness. Most important, the station would immediately change its tune and start preaching the official line — that the troops are making heroic sacrifices to “defend our freedom” here at home.

The entire situation is a real-life version of the “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The reality is that U.S. troops in Afghanistan are sacrificing life and limb (and killing and maiming others) to protect the existence of a crooked, corrupt, unelected, brutal, tortuous dictatorship. The problem is that no one in American public life is supposed to say that. Instead, like the people in “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” they’re expected to hew to a delusion: that the troops are making heroic sacrifices to “defend our freedom” here at home.

What a crock all that is. People think that by spreading a lie and inculcating a false sense of reality that they can create their own reality. What they actually end up doing is engendering deeper psychosis within the American people, thereby undoubtedly increasing the drug-use problem in America.

There’s another interesting twist to all this weirdness. When those sportcasters praise the troops for heroically sacrificing their lives and limbs to “defend our freedom” here at home, what do you think they mean by the term “freedom”?

I’ll tell you what most of them mean.

By “freedom,” they mean the ever-expanding role of government to dominate the lives and resources of the American people.

Freedom to the statist is the authority of government to confiscate massive amounts of income and wealth from those who produce it and give it to others.

It’s the authority of government to punish people with fines and incarceration for ingesting substances that haven’t been approved by the government.

It’s the authority of government to regulate even the most minute aspects of people’s economic activities.

It’s the authority of government to spy on, monitor, assassinate, torture, and incarcerate anyone it wants for any reason it wants, so long as the government relates it to some inane war, such as the “war on terrorism,” the “war on drugs,” or the “war on communism.”

That’s what freedom means to statists. In fact, sadly it’s what freedom means to many of the troops. Thus, one can easily imagine a U.S. soldier getting blown up in Afghanistan and saying to a fellow soldier with his last dying breath, “Please tell my family and fellow Americans that I proudly gave my life so that Americans could continue enjoying Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, foreign aid, education grants, the drug war, torture, assassination, indefinite incarceration, monitoring of email, denial of due process, and all the other aspects of American ‘freedom.’”

The sportscasters are wrong. The troops are not sacrificing their lives and limbs in Afghanistan to “defend our freedom” here at home. They are sacrificing their lives and limbs (and those of others) to defend U.S. imperialism abroad and American socialism at home. That’s nothing worth dying for or losing limbs or minds for. It’s also nothing worth killing or maiming for.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.


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