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The Thugs of Halftime

The Thugs of Halftime

By David Swanson
January 23, 2014

Three remarkable items in Thursday's Charlottesville Daily Progress. First, a football player explaining that when he proclaimed his superiority to his opponent after a game he was caught up in the game's passion, and that the overblown reaction to his obnoxious comments seems racist. Indeed it does, but it seems to reflect another type of willful ignorance as well.

Spectators at gladiator matches don't want to see too deeply into the minds of the gladiators. We want to watch violent sports without peering inside the helmets. Do they have to tell themselves the other team is dirt? Are they scared? Are they vicious? We don't want to know that stuff. We want them to give the other guy brain damage and then jump up and talk to the microphone like a coach: "They played a great game today, and in my analysis we won by outplaying them at the game of football. That's what it really comes down to."

Football players are the least of it. Their thoughts would be far more acceptable in prime time than the thoughts of some other people on that field. In many ways, football games have become advertisements for wars and militarism. Jets fly over. Soldiers hold flags. Guns are fired. War-based national anthems are sung. Troops are honored. But do those troops chant what they chant in basic training? Do they scream about how blood makes the grass grow? Do they shout their racism and bigotry and insatiable desire to kill? Of course not. Barbara Bush didn't want her beautiful mind disturbed with body counts and why should we?

If Richard Sherman is a thug for saying he's better than an opposing player, what are soldiers, sailors, Marines, and drone "pilots" who have been conditioned to kill on command because they are so far better than the men, women, children, infants, and grandparents they kill, as to consider those lives expendable? Football fans don't want to know. Who wants to see what went into a hotdog? Who wants to know what it means to have panem with your circenses? Who wants to experience what it takes to make the United States -- in a recent poll of 65 nations -- the overwhelming leader as the greatest threat to peace in the world? Who wants to hear that Pat Tillman came to oppose the war he was engaged in and was killed by "friendly fire" with no "enemies" for miles around? It's a good thing the uniformed thugs of halftime don't speak unrehearsed into microphones.

I recall in a recent Super Bowl hearing the announcer thank U.S. troops for watching from 177 countries. That number could go up a little this year. To put it in context, there are 196 countries on earth. What are armed Americans doing in 177 countries? They're making their fellow Americans hated. Look at this week's election in Okinawa, where the victorious mayoral candidate ran on a platform of opposing the U.S. bases. Look at Italy, where the entire nation turned against the massive U.S. base construction at Vicenza. Look at South Korea, where the people of Jeju Island are willing to give their lives to stop the construction of a huge base for U.S. ships. Look at Bahrain, where the people are courageously resisted a vicious monarch, a thug if ever there was a thug, and the United States that stands behind him for the sake of docking its deadly ships in his little boat-dock nation. Look at Yemen, whose corrupt government was forced to admit last week to a major humanitarian crisis of traumatized children -- traumatized by the constant buzzing of U.S. drones. Who wants to know that? I want to see cheerleaders and funny commercials!

Item number two: "Kaine Talks War Powers Bill." This article suggests that Senator Tim Kaine wants to restore warmaking powers to Congress. But read Kaine's press release. This bill would violate the Constitution which gave war powers to Congress, and the War Powers Resolution which retained partial war powers for Congress. Rather than a Congressional authorization, under Kaine's bill, presidents would just have to talk to Congress, after which they could tell Congress to go to hell and proceed with their desired wars (except for endless drone wars, for which Kaine says the requirement to talk to Congress is waived). And why undo the War Powers Resolution? The thinking, as recounted in the article, is that, since presidents keep violating it, repealing it is the way to uphold "the rule of law." So, what will uphold the new law? If presidents don't even talk to Congress -- as Obama went out of his way to avoid doing before bombing Libya -- will the new law have to be repealed to uphold "the rule of law"?

One would think presidents couldn't be impeached and prosecuted.

If only there were someone to ask about that!

Item number three: U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to speak at UVA's Miller Center at 3 p.m. Thursday. Public not welcome.

I don't recall the exercise of one's rights under the First Amendment requiring an invitation. Do you?


David Swanson's wants you to declare peace at His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He blogs at and and works for He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and Facebook.

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