Cashing In On Patriotism

by Sarah Turner

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Madison Avenue wasted little time devising ways to draw customers to their products. Some of these efforts have bordered on the unseemly.

United Airlines is running a commercial about a firefighter who boarded a recent flight. The advertisement says that once the crew found out there was a firefighter on board, they placed him in first class and the captain announced, “There’s a hero on board.” The commercial ends with the sentence, “People are getting back on board United.”

A Chevrolet commercial shows dramatic scenes of firefighters before a shot of a Chevy cruising down a scenic highway. The advertisement ends by flashing the patriotic words, “Keep America Moving.”

Even Lee jeans has gotten in on the action. A Lee doll is featured in a commercial with a Band-Aid on his arm and a Red Cross sticker that says, “I gave blood.”

In a radio ad, Toys-R-Us encourages parents to bring their children into the store to color a flag.

The Food Network is running promotional commercials to encourage people to cook together to relieve stress and to watch their programming. The ad states, “We’re all feeling a little overwhelmed, but we have to keep going.”

Newcastle Beer has advertising posters in bars that say, “Drink Newcastle to help the victims of Sept. 11.”

This type of ad is now a common corporate tactic. The consumer is told that part of the company’s profits will be donated to a Sept.11 relief fund. Corporations should not prey on Americans’ desire to help the victims’ families by turning the tragedy into an advertising ploy.

The New York Stock Exchange is now running commercials that end with, “Let Freedom Ring.” Its associating the civil right’s movement with the bell that ends each day’s market speculation.

These ads want us to associate patriotism with consumerism. But there is something tawdry about it all, as when fast food chains like Arby’s and McDonalds place “God Bless America” on their outdoor signs right above “99 cent Double Cheeseburger Special.”

Many of the very corporations that are showing this fake patriotism are the ones that are undermining the foundation of American democracy. In each new election cycle, corporations spend millions of dollars in campaign contributions and on lobbyists to push their pro-business agenda in Washington.

These ads demean the memory of the more than 5,000 people who lost their lives on Sept. 11. CP

Sarah Turner is a weekly opinion columnist for the Daily Cardinal, a student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an intern at the Progressive Media Project. She can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?
Ben Debney
Guns, Trump and Mental Illness
Pepe Escobar
The NATO-Russia Face Off in Syria
Yoav Litvin
Israeli Occupation for Dummies
Lawrence Davidson
Deep Poverty in America: the On-Going Tradition of Not Caring
Thomas Knapp
War Party’s New Line: Vladimir Putin is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Brandon Jordan
Sowing the Seeds of War in Uruguay
Binoy Kampmark
Imperilled by Unfree Trade: the TPP on Environment and Labor
John McMurtry
The Canadian Elections: Cover-Up and Steal (Again)
Anthony Papa
Coming Home: an Open Letter to 6,000 Soon-to-be-Released Drug War Prisoners From an Ex-Con
Ramzy Baroud
Listen to Syrians: The Media Jackals and the People’s Narrative
Norman Pollack
Heart of Darkness: A Two-Way Street
Gilbert Mercier
Will Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite Militias Defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
John Stanton
Vietnam 2.0 and California Dreamin’ in Ukraine
William John Cox
The Pornography of Hatred
October 07, 2015
Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Witness to a Troubled Saint-Making: Junipero Serra and the Theology of Failure
Luciana Bohne
The Double-Speak of American Civilian Humanitarianism
Joyce Nelson
TPP: Big Pharma’s Big Deal
Jonathan Cook
Israel Lights the Touchpaper at Al-Aqsa Again
Joseph Natoli
The Wreckage in Sight We Fail To See
Piero Gleijeses
Cuba’s Jorge Risquet: the Brother I Never Had
Andrew Stewart
Do #BlackLivesMatter to Dunkin’ Donuts?
Rajesh Makwana
#GlobalGoals? The Truth About Poverty and How to Address It
Joan Berezin
Elections 2016: A New Opening or Business as Usual?
Dave Randle
The Man Who Sold Motown to the World
Adam Bartley
“Shameless”: Hillary Clinton, Human Rights and China
Binoy Kampmark
The Killings in Oregon: Business as Usual
Harvey Wasserman
Why Bernie and Hillary Must Address America’s Dying Nuke Reactors
Tom H. Hastings
Unarmed Cops and a Can-do Culture of Nonviolence
October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War