Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

I grew up in a military family and joined the Air Force in 1971 during the Vietnam War. It was there that I became a peace activist.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I love baseball and the Baltimore Orioles are my favorite team.  Because I grew up in a military family we moved every 2-3 years.  I lived all over the US and in England and Germany (twice).  I never really had a home town to speak of.  The Orioles were my roots.

It's become harder and harder for me to remain a fan but I keep trying in spite of the big $$$ takeover of sports.  But the worst part for me is the increasing militarization of baseball.  Just tonight, after being at a meeting in Portland to hear a peace movement speaker, I came home to check to see how my O's did.  They beat the Red Sox.  I was excited until I saw the camouflage uniforms the O's wore on the field.  This is happening with increasing regularity.

I feel like we are living in Nazi Germany where Hitler used every manifestation of popular culture to promote his dark war agenda.  He ingratiated himself with youth scouting, he gave awards to families that had been on the land for hundreds of years as many German farm families had, he gave awards to families with certain numbers of kids which was almost all German families...... it went on and on.

In the US we know we've become an occupied country when every where we turn we see indications of the militarization of our culture.  Baseball is just the canary in the coal mine. I often tell the story about the Sears department store trotting out a new kids clothing line a couple years ago - military uniforms for boys. The message: this is your future, this is all you can be.

I had to do something so I wrote the following letter to the Major League Players Association tonight.  It's a small gesture but I can't remain silent about this.  I also posted these comments on a Orioles fan chat site.  It will be interesting to see the responses.

I am 60 years old and a lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan.
I am also a Vietnam-era veteran who learned during that time to be opposed to our endless wars.
I am deeply troubled by the growing takeover of MLB by the military industrial complex.  It is sold as patriotism and "support our troops:" but what I see is the use of baseball to sell the military mindset and endless war to the public.
Baseball belongs to everyone.  Once it begins to come under the control of any particular corporate agenda the sport loses.
The camo hats and uniforms, the constant hyping of the war machine at games indicates that this takeover is well underway.
I can feel myself slipping away from the game that I love so much because I find it hard to watch this dangerous militarization of baseball.
I hope the players are concerned about this as well.  If not, we are all in trouble.
Bruce K. Gagnon
Bath, Maine


Blogger by said...

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6/18/13, 7:02 AM  
Blogger by said...

With all due respect to you, Bruce, and others who have constantly re-examined their beliefs as we made our way through the 20th and now 21st century versions of culture in the US of level and professional sports have always been in the service of nationalism and militaristic chauvinism.

They teach very young citizens to believe in false dichotomy. They teach them to pick a side, a side to cheer and a side to revile. They teach them to wear uniforms and wave flags.

In the 20th century professional sporting events began to be used as a primary platform to deliver the hyper masculine view of the world that says: it's a jungle out there, eat or be eaten, only the strong survive. This messaging came not so much through the athletic contest as through the advertising.

I've been a sports fan myself in younger years, and I still know intelligent, thoughtful peace activists who are rabid fans, NS also a lot of not so bright regular USAians who seem to think their fan-ness defines them. You did a good job of explaining what the Orioles mean to you emotionally. I suspect for a lot of people it's not the roots they are yearning for but the adrenaline rush even ecstasy that accompany passionate involvement with watching their team.

This feeling is also what the Hitlers of history have used to gain adherents.

So far we in the peace movement have failed to use this, at least in the 21st century. Occupy did and is using the bliss that comes with coming together -- and that is why tear gas and water cannons are used to destroy their peaceful encampments.

We are the 99%. Play ball!

6/18/13, 7:03 AM  

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