Monday, July 04, 2011

On 'supporting the troops'

Playing today in the 2011 Women's World Cup, the American national team chose to celebrate their first goal by hailing -- er, saluting -- the hundreds of U.S. soldiers in attendance.

No other country on Earth, barring perhaps North Korea, worships its military in such a prevalent, mindless and such seemingly oblivious fashion as the good 'ol USA. To wit, sportswriter Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter today thanked "our troops and veterans" for all of their "sacrifices: past, present and future," as if one's gratitude toward professional killers shouldn't be based on, say, the actual specifics of and toward what end they are professionally killing. Repelling an alien invasion? Praise away, I guess. Invading and occupying Iraq -- or Iran? Not so much.

It serves no one any good, especially 17 or 18 year olds who may be considering enlisting, to idolize military "service," particularly when soldiers are killing and being killed not in the name of freedom, but in the service of empire and corporate power. People might mean well when they salute or tweet their thanks to Our Brave Young Men and Women -- or it just might be self-serving, flag-draping political bullshit -- but by doing so they're only perpetuating the dangerous notion that there's anything honorable about the U.S. military.

A final, noteworthy detail upon which I will not comment any further: That women's soccer game where the players did the whole creepy, right-arm raised "salute"? It was played in Germany.

Photo Credit: Alex Grimm/Getty Images


  1. People thank me "for my service" all the time. It always leaves me feeling uneasy, but then I have to remember that I obviously thought as they do at one time. However, I do find it a bit odd though (and I always have) that people celebrate the military on Independence Day. What does glorifying the military have to do with declaring independence from England? Pretty soon every day will be turned into some kind of war holiday.

  2. The first and only bit I've seen to describe how I've come to feel about the 4th and our military or ANY military for that matter. They all join knowing they will be expected to kill. I just can't quite make that right in my mind.

  3. Adam Trovillion9:00 PM

    My sophomore year of high school, an acquaintance of mine who was very caught up in the militaristic fervor of American culture mentioned to me that he wanted to go into the Marines to "kill towelheads" overseas. I come back to that memory often when I hear about people blindly talk about "supporting the troops."

  4. The moment I saw the picture I thought the German Salute, aka, before our enlighten time i.e. post 1945, the Nazi Salute. You really have to wonder what they were thinking, of course being average North Americans they likely don't know anything about the pre-1945 time or I suspect anything pre-1990.

    My response always to the support the troops crap is: do I have a choice? I'd love to be able to have a choice as to where my tax dollars are spent. The military wouldn't get much of it.

  5. EXACCCTTLLLYYYY. Bravo. Well said. I like how you picked up on the Germany twist...I mean, how much more obvious does it have to get before blind reverance is discarded as, well, idiotic.

  6. I've trained myself never to refer to the military as "the service" or to say the hired killers involved are "serving" in the military. If I have to, I just say they're "in the military." Words matter.