Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Support the troops! I mean, the Senators! No...the troops...whatever. Just decorate your car.

Two things I hear a lot that have absolutely no intrinsic meaning: "Support the Senators" and "support the troops". What, really, do either of these things mean? Judging by the callers to our station, "support the Senators" means one of fifty things. Either it means never saying anything bad about the team (they only have four more wins to go to knock off Pittsbugh!), or perhaps it means constructive criticism (boy, all they need to do get better play from their defencemen, their forwards, their stars, their grinders, their first line, their second line, their third lnie, their penalty kill and their power play, and they're set!). Or maybe support is merely pointing out that there is still a chance. (All they have to do is score more goals than the Penguins do in the next four games, and they move on!) There are forty-seven other permutations that for whomever indicate support for the team, but forty-six of them involve this: Put the flags on your car! THAT's support. True support, the kind that can't be questioned or second-guessed. The kind we give to...

Our troops. Put the right bangle on your car, and people will know you don't want troops to die! You can drive around all day with your red shirt (make it a Senators shirt) and your troops bumper sticker and your Go Sens Go flags in your back windows, and know that you have done your part. Your bases are covered. It is, quite literally, the least you can do. Not that I am equating the two things, they are not the same. But it is the same rhetoric, isn't it. And make no mistake, this type of support for a hockey team is a form of sports-centric "patriotism". The same people who say "how can you question the Senators? You're not a coach or a hockey player" are the same people who say "don't question our government and the war. You are not a politician or a solider." But this is the nature of patriotism, isn't it? The brilliance of democracy and the benefit of free society is the questioning of authority. True patriotism lies in questioning the decisions made by the powers that be, and not in blindly accepting them with apathy or excuses.

So here is what I am going to do. I will continue to cheer for the Senators. I will celebrate their goals, I will be a little downcast when they get scored upon, and I will hope for at least one more victory for them. And I will continue to hope that our soldiers don't die in Afghanistan, and I will be devastated by the deaths I read about in the paper, both of our soldiers and of civilians. And I will cheer, whole-heartedly, for a plan to remove us from harm's way, and an end to the dabacle in Afghanistan, because that is what I believe. And I will also, at the same time, wait for a full-scale withdrawal of the Senators from this playoff series against the Penguins. At least one of the two is a given.

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