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.

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxembourg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey