Cross-posted at DailyKos. Instead of giving our troops better equipment, better training, better benefits, better health care, more family time — and instead forcing on them involuntary servitude, your tax dollars are exploited to associate macho sports with macho militarism:
In its latest effort to boost the number of new recruits, the National Guard has reportedly signed a $6 million deal to buy the naming rights of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. Under the plan the stadium would change its official name to National Guard Field at RFK. The Guard would also be granted advertising space inside and outside the stadium, along with other promotional opportunities.
Is this an insult to the memory of Robert F. Kennedy? And, more pernicious, is this “product placment” with a racist intent? More below:
Writes Counterrecruiter, a blog project of The Indypendent, the newspaper of the New York City Independent Media Center:
Sports commentator Dave Zirin writes on Counterpunch: “[T]he Guard — the under-trained, under equipped, one-weekend-a-month-National Guard — is an astounding 40% of the boots on the ground in Iraq. The persistence of the Iraqi resistance and the ‘War on Terror’s’ expansionist agenda means the Pentagon needs more boots. This is why, according to Time Magazine, the Guard has hired 1,400 new recruiters. This is why, even though 25,000 soldiers are currently on food stamps, there is $6 million in the Pentagon Budget for stadium naming rights.
“This is also why RFK stadium of Southeast DC is a perfect locale for their new publicity push. Since September 11th, Armed Forces enlistment by African-American men has dropped by 47%. Southeast DC, with its decrepit high schools and spiraling unemployment makes for an ideal location. Presumably, even if they can’t afford tickets, they can come on by to sign up at the adjacent recruitment stands. It’s telling in fact that the only objections to this purchase, which could scuttle the deal, are from Sen. John Warner (R-VA) who thinks the purchase doesn’t do ENOUGH to raise the guards profile and increase recruitment.”
25,000 soldiers on food stamps … African-American enlistment has dropped by 47% …
And the memory of Robert F. Kennedy — who surely would have opposed the Iraq war, right? — is being defaced for military recruitment?
From The Washington Post’s Metro section Tuesday:
The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission and Washington Nationals are nearing a sponsorship deal with the Department of Defense worth more than $6 million, with the potential for additional revenue from a private company related to naming rights at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.
The federal agency would provide the payment in return for recruiting and advertising opportunities for the National Guard and other branches of the military at RFK during Nationals games, sources close to the negotiations said.
Discussions of potential names for the playing field have included Armed Forces Field at RFK and naming it after a separate corporate sponsor, the sources said. Any sponsorship fees would go to city youth recreation facilities, commission officials have said.
The Black Athlete lands the biggest punches:
… This is the first time a branch of the armed forces has thrown its helmet into the stadium name game. It’s worth understanding why.
As recently as the early 1990s, the names of sports arenas still held pretensions of dignity, tradition, and a kind of bloated grandeur. There was Veterans Stadium, the Boston Garden, Memorial Stadium, Candlestick Park, Tiger Stadium, and the Spectrum.
Then, in the 90s, when by executive order all that was holy was officially profaned, new stadiums sprung like weeds with their “naming rights” sold to the highest bidder. …
The National Guard’s attempted RFK purchase is as fitting in 2005 as was Enron’s mid ’90s hubris. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon need the guard to grow, and grow now. Recruitment is down more than 30%. Dissatisfaction among guard members is at an all time high. Lt. Gen. James Helmly, the commanding officer of the Army Reserve, said in January that the Guard and the Reserve are “rapidly degenerating into a ‘broken’ force.”
There are reasons the Guard is stretched tighter than Dick Cheney’s Bikini Briefs. The Bush White House has radically reinvented this wing of the armed forces to achieve their imperial ambitions. …
But now the Guard – the under-trained, under equipped, one-weekend-a-month-National Guard – is an astounding 40% of the boots on the ground in Iraq. …
Ted Kennedy lifted his 82 pound head long enough to say that both he and Ethel Kennedy love the name change, not surprising from a political family whose perspective is that we have been “fighting the wrong war” and should be taking on North Korea and Al Qaeda. That will require more troops something, an unreconstructed hawk like RFK would have loved.
But the people really gurgling with pleasure are members of the DC City Council. As Councilman Jack Evans said, “I started laughing when I first heard it because you usually think of Verizon or a bank for a sponsorship. But I wouldn’t object to [The National Guard Puchase] as long as we get the money.” …
Ted Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy are in favor of this? WTF?
But, as good as the above commentary is, I disagree that RFK would have favored the Iraq war or any of the imperialistic conquests plotted by the Bush administration.
Concludes the Black Athlete:
We need to see this attempted name purchase for what it is: an act of aggression by a military bent on growth that’s using sports as a platform to achieve its ends. If the name is changed, DC residents should approach the stadium the same way growing numbers of National Guardsmen are approaching being recalled for duty and say, “Hell No We Won’t Go.”
Hell no is right!
Donald Rumsfeld et al: Keep your racist product placement out of our neighborhoods and do not sully the memory of Robert F. Kennedy.