The National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys provide a commentary on the imperialism undermining the soul of America. The commentary is seen in The Dallas Morning News reports of the mammoth new, $1.15 billion, Cowboys Stadium: it drew 105, 121 fans on opening day, which was “the largest regular-season crowd in NFL history.” The “huge stadium crowd finally got their first look at the stadium’s . . . 160-foot-long Mitsubishiis [,] the largest HDTV in the world. . . . The $40 million display is 54 yards long, more than 71 feet tall and hangs only 90 feet above the playing field.”
It is about bigger being better. Before kick-off, “photos of architectural wonders flashed on the team’s world-record video board,” including “The Great Wall of China. The Taj Mahal. The Roman Colosseum. And finally Cowboys Stadium.” Fans paid as high as “$40,000 per seat for the right to buy tickets, in addition to the tickets themselves: $340 per seat per game.”
Even “God” is a fan. “At the Cowboys’ previous home,” a news story states, “it was said that Texas Stadium had a hole in the roof so God could watch his favorite team. Now, one fan mused, God has an obstructed view, because of the gigantic video board hanging in the new Cowboys Stadium.”
But “God’s” favorite, prayerful, warmongering former president was on hand, and provides the bottom line of the commentary: “There was a countdown to the opening of the roof, a [pre-game] coin toss by” and “warm reception” for “former President George W. Bush,” with an American flag, held by members of the armed forces, covering the whole football field for the singing of the national anthem. (reports by Jeff Mosier and Jason Sickles; other staff reports; and “Dallas Cowboys season-ticket holders pay hundreds to thousands for seats, but say it was worth every penny,” by Theodore Kim and Scott Farwell, Sept. 21, 2009)
It is about “God’s . . . favorite team.” His favorite nation. His favorite Christian religion cradling “His only Son” and “Saviour of the world.” It is actually about an “endless war’s” roar of ethnocentric patriotism and imperialistic Christianity drowning out the reason of democratic humanness.
It is about the American flag covering and suffocating to death over one million Iraqi civilians, uprooting over four million more, destroying a country’s life-sustaining infrastructure, triggering terrible sectarian violence to this day, and unjustly sacrificing American lives and resources in a war based on lies. A criminal war launched by a self-professed “Christ . . . changed my heart . . . I pray daily . . . for peace,” American president. An openly religious president who repeatedly redefined America’s blatant so-called “Operation Iraqi Freedom” war crime as an act of God: “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world, it is Almighty God’s gift to every man and woman in this world.” And a significant majority of evangelical Christians said “Amen!” While many others said nothing.
Former President Bush’s religious battle cry evidently had a Biblical-like ring to most evangelical Christians: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.” Bush’s religiously legitimized warmongering words also echoed the Christian Gospel’s imperialistic mission: a supposedly resurrected Jesus appeared to and commanded his disciples with, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28: 16-20)
Imperialism by any other name . . . Whether in the name of “freedom” or in the name of “Christ.” It is about believing or perishing.
It is about one of the worst war criminals in the eyes of the world showing his face on the Dallas Cowboys Stadium’s 50-yard line and receiving “a warm reception” from 105,121 fans. A United Methodist war criminal, whose presidential library, museum and institute are now housed at his hierarchically-controlled and therefore predominately conventional denomination’s Southern Methodist University in Dallas. It is about imperialistic crimes against humanity legitimized by piety and patriotism.
It is about the American flag unfurled against the people of Afghanistan in an immoral eight- year war. Hundreds of innocent men, women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan have been indiscriminately killed by US drone and other air strikes. As reported in The New York Times, “The [United States Special] forces have often been blamed for nighttime raids on villages, detentions and air strikes that have the population in southern Afghanistan to the point of revolt. (May 7, 2009) (See Alberts, “First the Torture of Truth . . . ,” CounterPunch, June 10, 2009)
The American flag is also a symbol of oppression in Pakistan, as over three million civilians have been made refugees by the US-pressured Pakistani military’s offensives against Taliban strongholds—with untold more displaced civilians to come as more than 100,000 already have fled South Wazinistan, where Pakistan’s air and ground forces, pushed and equipped by the US, are launching new attacks against the Taliban. (“Under Pressure, Pakistani Army Pushes into South Wazinistan,” By Spiegel Staff, Spiegel Online International, 10, 19, 2009)
The hatred toward America is reported to have spread from Afghanistan to Pakistan:
It is quite possible that Pakistan is already the world’s most anti-American country. From university professors to taxi drivers, most Pakistanis are convinced that the terror in their country is not homegrown, but a consequence of the US invasion of Afghanistan. (Ibid.)
And now an election fraud in Afghanistan, perpetrated by America’s “favorite” puppet president, Hamid Karzai. With a US-orchestrated new runoff election on November 7—to give the appearance of legitimacy to the war and justify the continuing sacrifice of American lives and resources. A war that is itself a terrible fraud perpetrated on us American people by our political leaders in our name.
Afghanistan is not about protecting America but about perpetual war for the profit of the arms and energy and reconstruction and security industries and for maintaining the political power of elected officials and the Pentagon. The so-called “war on terror” by any other name will continue to create far more enemies rather than make America more secure. A Catch-22 for us Americans and our designated “enemies”: the more enemies the more justification for war. And the more profit for those for whom war is good business and power-maintaining.
Tragically, many Americans still don’t get it. How being “God’s favorite team” or nation or religion is a curse rather than a blessing. Thus President Obama may re-package and continue former President Bush’s imperialistic policy by escalating America’s crimes against humanity in Afghanistan—and, like his predecessor, still show his face and receive “a warm reception” on a fifty-yard line or a pitcher’s mound.
“Forty-thousand dollars per seat” just for the privilege of buying tickets, which themselves “cost $350 per seat per game.” Being the “favorite” is a key to wealth, and breeds entitlement and privilege and often obliviousness to the needs and rights of those who are deemed disfavored. Such as the reported several thousand “recently or soon to be homeless” Detroit residents, who jammed a downtown convention center, pushing and shoving, “several received medical treatment for fainting or exhaustion, all “frantically trying to obtain applications for federal housing assistance.” (“Thousands Mob Detroit Center in Hopes of Free Cash,” By The Associated Press,” The New York Times, Oct. 7, 2009)
A few pay $40,000 just for the privilege of sitting in a seat to watch a Sunday football game, while many thousands of other people struggle to find a place to sit down. The connection here: the “favorite” ruling and privileged classes need the jobless, and thus prospective military-enlisting, poor to fight their profit-making wars and do their domestic “dirty work.” Economic injustice in the name of “freedom” or “God.”
The belief that one’s nation or religion is “God’s favorite” and thus the greatest and truest is imperialistic. Such assumed superiority leads people to justify imposing their will and way on other individuals and groups in violation of the latter’s inalienable right to be who they are. Thus former President Bush’s repeated statement that “America is the greatest nation on the face of the Earth” is contrary to the very meaning of democracy, which he supposedly was trying to “spread to the furthest corners of the earth.” So also, the belief that Jesus is “God’s only Son” and the “Saviour of the world,” breeds being the “favorite,” and thus contradicts his fundamental teaching, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
It is about loving one’s neighbor as oneself. Such love requires self-understanding. And it is about sowing self-understanding that we may reap understanding of others. It is about sowing understanding of others that we may reap appreciation of their humanness. It is about sowing humanness that we may reap justice. It is about sowing justice that we may reap peace—and security and fulfillment. Surely the vitality of any political ideology or religious belief is to be judged by the extent to which it teaches people to love themselves and to value and love other persons for themselves.
Rev. WILLIAM E. ALBERTS, Ph.D. is a hospital chaplain and a diplomate in the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. Both a Unitarian Universalist and a United Methodist minister, he has written research reports, essays and articles on racism, war, politics and religion. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.