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history | Noah Stepro

Noah Stepro

Noah Stepro

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12-14-14 – (Advent)ure: Timelines

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Our hope lies not within the past but in the possibilities of the future. God is all about dramatic acts of redemption and courage that alter the course of human history

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” ― Rick Warren

“People are all over the world telling their one dramatic story and how their life has turned into getting over this one event. Now their lives are more about the past than their future.” ― Chuck Palahniuk

Patriotism for Profit? The Propaganda of “Support the Troops”

What does it mean to be an American? Or better yet, who is a real American?

I don’t have television or cable, so I rarely get to glimpse the gems on the air these days that are not on my radar of Netflix or Hulu. We were on vacation last week and the cabin we were staying at had a television. My two year old (Paisley) grabbed the remote and turned on the Country Music Television channel…she is only two so I forgave her for that. JK, I know enough country music to recognize Keith Urban when I see him. This was a new song and the video entailed him singing in front of an American Flag while explosions went off and US troops ran around looking heroic. It was all quite patriotic…any gun totting, Wal-Mart shopping, truck driving, Bud-light drinking American would be proud to watch this video.

Then it hit me…”He is AUSTRAILIAN”!!!

What the heck is an Australian doing waving the flag in a way that most Americans wouldn’t? Is he that patriotic? Does he love America so much that he is willing to display his patriotism with self-abasing gusto that I would never put on? Possibly…

But I am willing to bet that such displays of Nationalism bump his record sales just a bit. This is Patriotism for Profit. Using national pride for ulterior motives is otherwise known as PROPAGANDA. (I’ve since found out it is for an up-coming movie called Act of Valor:)

For my history students using our Taking Sides Book…there is a great handout inside which points out the signs of propaganda and how to recognize it…below is a condensed version:

Propaganda Alert – look for…

  • Generalization
    • Drug Company Did Not Act on AIDS Virus Warning
  • Name Calling
  • Emotions and Persuasion
  • Appeals to Fear
  • Appeals to Hatred
  • Appeals to Pride
    • Anyone with the slightest bit of intelligence would realize…
  • Pseudo Solutions
    • The Economy is Bad…let’s all tighten our Belts
  • Slogans
    • Support the Troops

Country Music seems littered with many of these bullet points…patriotism for profit.

 

It seems that there is an air of suspicion when we questions such “patriotic” sentiments. We all want to “support the troops” but does that mean supporting the war as well? Some of the most patriotic men of our country gained their status by questioning authorities, searching out motives and rejecting slogans and emotional appeals. Think of Patrick Henry…“Give me liberty or give me death”, or “If this be treason, make the most of it”. Not necessarily the things you would hear on CMT today, but you will be hard pressed to find a more patriotic person than Henry.

So what defines someone as patriotic? As I began investigating I found this little gem that I am adding to my reading list Capture the Flag: A Political History of American Patriotism. If we look at the trends in history patriotism usually involves an act of sedition…standing for what you believe is right, regardless of the consequences. It rarely embodies the marketed, productions that we link together today. The fact that the Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Christian socialist or that the American Flag gained cult like status because we tested immigrants “Americanism” by swearing on it (much like a Bible) is rarely known. Yet these are the things we focus our patriotic energies on.

 

What is Patriotism looked less like flag waving and more like political activist that actually voted for the right candidate, instead of the popular one or the one they thought likely to win? What if we stopped saying “support the troops” and started caring for them by questioning the wisdom of funding and pursuing wars at the expense of our soldiers and our society? What if our energies focused on things that would truly benefit our nation such as resolving educational funding, reforming the prison system, redistributing the tax burden to higher brackets and limiting the power of corporations