Jewish World Review Sept. 5, 2003 / 8 Elul, 5763
Flag waving and football cheeringhttp://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | "Wait one second: you're trying to tell me the big NFL kickoff last week in Washington's National Mall was about patriotism and a tribute to our military?"
"Absolutely. It was part of Operation Tribute to Freedom, 'a Department of Defense program of nationwide celebrations and activities to demonstrate public appreciation for American men and women in uniform and reinforce the bond between the citizenry and the military.'"
"Sure, the program's mission is 'to help Americans express their support for the troops who are returning from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who continue to fight in the ongoing effort toward victory in the Global War On Terrorism.'"
"We absolutely support the sacrifices our military is making in the war on terrorism, but what does that have to do with the NFL?"
"What better way to kick of the new football season and praise our military than to have the NFL host a few spectacular events on the National Mall?"
"That's the point. Isn't the National Mall something of a sacred place? George Washington collaborated with a French architect to design it. Four presidential memorials are there - Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR. Three war memorials are there, including the Vietnam Wall, a sobering sight. And the Mall has long been a powerful symbol of America's free expression, protest and debate."
"The Mall was also a great place for our concerts! Our global audience was rocked by Aerosmith, Mary J. Blige, Good Charlotte and Britney Spears!"
"But isn't Britney Spears the scantily clad performer who just locked lips with Madonna?"
"Yeah, terrific publicity for the war on terrorism. Anyhow, the patriots at the NFL also invited 25,000 uniformed military members and their families to the event, including 5,000 uniformed service members, who have served in global war on terrorism."
"Again, I applaud your efforts to praise the soldiers who have risked their lives in the war on terrorism, but isn't something out of kilter here?"
"Don't worry. The people who didn't have tickets to the game were still able to watch it on Jumbotrons in the Mall. We used those giant televisions to simulcast the football game after the concert was over."
"Jumbotrons in the Mall? I thought there was a ban on all commercial activity there?"
"Hey, the NFL coughed up $10 million to stage this awesome event. They had to get that dough from somewhere. That's why they turned to Vanilla Pepsi, Coors, the New York Stock Exchange and others."
"But aren't there rules prohibiting commercial marketing on the Mall?
"Ah, yes, but the sponsors didn't advertise. They were given sponsor recognition, but there were no formal advertisements."
"That sounds kind of Clintonian to me. Besides, their ads WERE broadcast on the Jumbotrons while the game was broadcast. You have to admit that all of this is unprecedented. Even Park Service officials concede they've never made such exceptions before."
"Look, I don't know why you're being such a fuddy duddy. America is winning the war on terrorism. Autumn is here. America's hottest national pastime is now football. By combining Operation Tribute to Freedom with the NFL kickoff, we're telling the world that America is doing just fine, thank you."
"I can see your point on one hand. America is a perfect example of freedom and how freedom can generate enormous prosperity that creates very rich performers and athletes and millions of fans that adore them. But on the other hand aren't we broadcasting some crass messages to the rest of the world?"
"Take Iraq. We went in there to depose of a dictator and his threats and introduce democracy and freedom, two concepts that are rare in that part of the world. More than 300 our of young men and women have died thus far - are dying still - as we attempt to move this major effort forward."
"Well, some might think the NFL is tapping the good will Americans hold toward our young military men and women for their own financial gain. Look, the two-year anniversary of 911 is going to take place next week. It seems to me that any event that pertains to the war on terrorism should be more solemn."
"You some kind of commie?"
"If it helps any, I hate Daniel Snyder and the Washington Redskins."
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08/29/03: People who have it all, too often don't