Guns and Balls

War and team sport are parallel activities, but in today’s America, the coupling of guns and group balling has become increasingly explicit. Before a game, there’s the national anthem, which is reasonable enough, but after the last note has been butchered, jets often thunder overhead. On the field, uniformed troops march and salute. Gigantic flags undulate. In San Diego, five soldiers planted Old Glory on the pitching mound, evoking Iwojima. The Padres also dress in camouflaged outfits for some of their games.

During telecasts, cameras will zoom in on uniformed soldiers, special guests at the game, with commentators reminding us how lucky we are to be protected by such brave heroes. During the seventh inning stretch, we don’t get to sing goofily along to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” as was customary, but must now stand stiffly for “God Bless America,” a second national anthem, so to speak, with the announcer intoning our collective gratitude to the troops.

Participation in this additional patriotic ritual is not optional, apparently. In 2008, Bradford Campeau-Laurion was physically expelled from Yankees Stadium when he left his seat during “God Bless.” The man wasn’t protesting, he just needed to urinate. For this, Campeau-Laurion had his arms twisted by two security guards, then escorted, if that’s the word, from his cheapest, sky-scraping seat to ground level, then shoved through the turnstile, with this send-off from one of the goons, “Get the hell out of my country if you don’t like it.”

Yes, citizens, you should emigrate immediately if you have a full bladder during one of our mass jingoistic hypnotizing sessions. A lust for mass murders is not love of country, and coerced love is no love at all. Love me, or I will shoot you. Has the United States become a universal psycho stalker? You’re either with us, or you’re against us. That’s the logics of a narcissistic bully. Since we have troops in just about every country, or just outside it, indifference is not a choice. You can’t ignore me. Love me, or I’ll shoot you!

In 2009, three teens were also kicked out of a minor league stadium for refusing to stand during “God Bless.” Rather surprisingly, 52% of respondents to an American Online poll applauded this ejection. Have we gone mad? Of course. In contemporary America, going to a baseball game means that you must erect yourself for “God Bless,” to show support for our door-kicking, civilian-harassing, finger-chopping, trigger happy, confused, cynical or sadistic troops. So what if you’re a pacifist or an atheist. So what if you have to piss.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, where art thou? For those who don’t remember, this NBA player caused an uproar in 1996 by refusing to stand during the Star-Spangled Banner. A compromise was reached when he finally agreed to stand, but with his eyes closed. In our culture, athletes, particularly those participating in team sports, are not expected to voice political opinions, especially rebellious ones. Still, we want them to talk all the time. These jocks are interviewed constantly, whereas our wordsmiths and thinkers are almost never placed in front of a camera. Jocks babble so much, they’ve become even more facile with language than our politicians. Even our foreign, just imported muscle packages can regurgitate clichés and trite observations without the slightest of efforts.

Before game 4 of this year’s World Series, two war criminals, Bush father and son, threw out the first pitch. They entered the stadium to a tremendous roar, these two who have wasted so many lives, including American ones, with the son presiding over our financial collapse. We don’t just lack a historical memory.  Many of us can’t even remember what happened a mere two years ago. How else to explain the affection shown to this very corrupt man who’s bankrupted us?

Wreck the economy, send troops on repeated tours so they come back insane, truncated or dead, so their children grow up without a father or mother, so their spouses divorce them, but wave the flag, pin one on your lapel, dish up jive turkey, talk nonsense in a fake drawl, and all will be forgiven. Boy, did you see that ass kicking flag? It was something North Korea would be proud of…

Ceremony done, the Bushes were seated just behind the Rangers’ dugout, at a convenient angle to the on-deck circle, so we could admire them over and over again. As expected, Fox Television swooned over their presence. The commentators even noted that Barbara Bush was marking her score card. How delightful. Each strike and ball must be recorded. It’s very important. This from a lady who couldn’t be bothered with human beings about to be slaughtered by the action of her smirking, shoe dodging son. On the eve of our 2003 invasion of Iraq, this dainty monster fretted, “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? Oh, I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”

Yes, with a nightly circus of camouflaged god bless, of balls and strikes shutting out the endless carnage and shame unleashed in our name, with each botched bunt more parsed and considered than the trillions looted from our treasury, who has time to think about body bags, even if they contain your last ounce of flesh?

So much froth over a baseball game. What’s wrong with me? So who’s on First?

Who’s on Third but thinking he’s on First?

Who’s down to his last strike?

Who’s voguing on the on-deck circle, although he’s just been laid off?

Who thinks he’s on TV even as he stands in a darkened and unheated apartment?

Who’s lying right there, half dead, on cardboard and not even trashed, just outside the oh-so-new, state of the art stadium?

Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories, five of poems, and a novel, Love Like Hate. He's tracking our deteriorating social scape through his frequently updated photo blog, Postcards from the End of America. Read other articles by Linh.

4 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on November 2nd, 2010 at 8:21am #

    If you watch this the truth is not all that funny.

  2. hayate said on November 2nd, 2010 at 10:41am #

    Sports in the usa just gets worse and worse. Along with the fans.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain said on November 3rd, 2010 at 3:33am #

    The USA has always held killing as the highest expression of its ‘manifest destiny’. Brainwashed by the genocidal bilge of the ‘Old Testament’, which they inherited from those other enthusiastic killers, the Jews, and which is a litany of genocides, assassinations, cruel punishments and admonitions by God(that pathopsychological projection of the serial killer mentality)to keep up the killing forever, the colonists set to ridding the country of its indigenous. And the killing never ceased.
    What with colonial wars, massacres,lynchings (always popular, invoking a carnival atmosphere) ‘Wild West’ ‘shootouts’ (more than 90% shots in the back)World Wars,aerial bombing, nuclear attacks,’free-fire zones’, ‘turkey-shoots’ like the massacre on the Kuwait-Basra Highway in 1991 and development of truly Satanic weapons like depleted uranium, the US has indulged its bloodlust like no other power in history.
    It has also been good for business, allowing that global pillage that has underwritten the ‘American Way of Life’, while billions elsewhere suffer deprivation and want. However, in recent years,this death cult has grown even more destructive than ever, under the ever increasing influence of Zionazism, as a ‘Biblical’ ‘Coalition of the Killing’ seeks more and more victims for sacrifice to a God so bloodthirsty that the Aztec deities must look on with envy at the oceans of blood set flowing in his honour.
    The confluence of imperial overstretch, economic decline due to elite rapacity and growing resistance,has robbed the US of its ‘unipolar moment’, that dawned as the USSR surrendered. That has US jingos ropeable, as the say, and the stench of fascism is rising. There is nothing a vicious bullyboy hates and fears more than the victims fighting back, and steroid doped thugs, brought up on a diet of junkfood and junk morality are just a symptom of existential angst at no longer being feared and obeyed. The great Yank fear is that, one day, they might suffer the horrors that they have inflicted on the world for decades, that the precious ‘Homeland’ might be strewn with cluster bombs and poisoned with depleted uranium.
    The same dread stalks the West as a whole. In Australia the former PM, John Howard, adjusting Johnson’s aphorism to make jingoism the first resort of the constitutionally and innately unscrupulous, began bedecking every public occasion with flags. Some really low types began clutching their left tit during the playing of the National Dirge, apeing their Yankee role models. In the UK it appears that wearing a plastic poppy is now compulsory, for ever longer periods (like the Xmas sales season) although some seditious types wear it disrespectfully low, but we have their names.
    What comes across, both in the manhandling by beefy WWE wrestling fans (a shot in the dark) and in the carnage inflicted on Iraq etc, is the sheer gutlessness of our Yankee masters. They never relish a fair fight. Far better to carpet bomb, as in Fallujah, or kick doors in at dead of night, then shoot the teenagers through the head, like proper ‘heroes’. The apotheosis of this cowardice, and the high point (so far) of Yankee terror tactics and sheer viciousness, is, of course, the drone, now terrorising ever greater areas of the planet. Death delivered cruelly, wantonly and without a scrap of mercy, destroying women and children in the vast majority of cases, by human ghouls, sitting at their leisure hundreds or thousands of miles away. If you want to know ‘why they hate us’, why they are ‘radicalised’, just think of the drone and the “Hellfire’ missile, the embodiment of Western evil.

  4. Don Hawkins said on November 3rd, 2010 at 3:45am #

    It has also been good for business yes indeed Mulga.