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NFL Teams Paid Millions to Thank Troops

It's called "Cheap Grace".

Andrew Bacevich, who is a Vietnam Vet and retired Army Colonel, does a good job explaining it...

billmoyers.com

(go to 28:45 minute mark)

Also, here's a transcript of Bacevich explaining Cheap Grace...

PHIL DONAHUE: I know you're a New Englander. And you in your book "Breach of Trust" you make an observation that I don't I no one else would make, certainly not in the Boston area.

You saw the United States military establishment use the Red Sox to promote pride, pride in the military, all good, all the time.

And they actually recreated a homecoming of a woman, Navy, who at first appeared on the big Jumbotron waving at her family.

And of course the place erupted in cheers and the next thing you know from behind, a flag, she appeared real.

And they were witness to well something that had to make you cry. She ran to embrace her family, and then the jets flew over.

What's wrong with that?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, it's the Red Sox exploiting the military and the military exploiting the Red Sox. But both of them together in a sense are manipulating the American people.

And they're encouraging the American people to think that to go to the ballgame on the 4th of July and sing the national anthem and clap for their troops that are on the field.

And then to react emotionally to this contrived reunion all of that is intended to persuade the American people that they have acquitted their responsibility to the troops.

That when we say, "We support the troops," and we all say, "We support the troops," that that suffices.

I go to the ballgame, I clap, I get teary-eyed, and then when they say, "Play ball," I buy a beer and basically forget about the episode.

And my argument in the book is that that's not good enough.

My argument in the book is that in many respects, that's, well, it's an exercise in what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace."

Grace you award yourself without having earned. Grace that enables you to feel that you are virtuous when in fact you are complicit in wrongdoing. And I think that actually describes the relationship between the American people and the American military.

Now some people will be offended to hear me say that. But my argument would be that our first obligation to those we love, to those we care about, is to protect them, to preserve them, to keep them out of harm.

And therefore, if indeed we love the troops, if indeed we regarded them as the ultimate manifestation of what is good about our country, then we would all want to make sure that they were only sent in harm's way when absolutely necessary.

We would insist that they should not be abused. Now since 9/11, they have been abused. Particularly the American Army and the United States Marine Corps have been abused.

And I think that that's wrong. I think that it's undemocratic, I think that it's immoral and I think that the American people need to be called on it.

PHIL DONAHUE: Andrew Bacevich, Professor of History, Boston University, graduate of West Point, Army veteran, thank you very much for this very informative hour.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Thank you.

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