Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Patriotism bought and paid for isn't patriotism

So the Atlanta Falcons were paid roughly a million dollars over the past three years to hold those heart-warming, patriotic ceremonies honoring members of the American military as "hometown heros"? Those events were, in essence, paid commercials?

And other NFL franchises and sports teams, including Major League Baseball and the Atlanta Braves, have had similar deals with the Defense Department?

That's just wrong.

I don't have a problem with the military marketing itself to potential recruits, but we ought to be able to recognize that marketing when we see it. When your own government is manipulating you without your knowledge -- paying people to play on your emotions -- it reeks of propaganda.

Furthermore, those ceremonies were clearly designed to leave the impression that the Falcons and other sports franchises were honoring those who serve in our military and National Guard out of the teams' own sense of civic duty and national pride. They generated a lot of good will for themselves for something that was basically a commercial transaction, and the millions of Americans who have stood and applauded during those moments had no idea that they were the targets of that transaction.

Patriotism that is bought and paid for isn't patriotism. Like love that is bought and paid for, it's something much less appealing, and it cheapens the real thing.

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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.