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The Nationals Should Not Celebrate the Military


I really wish that the Washington Nationals would stop glorifying the American military. I love baseball and nothing beats going to Nationals Park to see a ballgame. But to integrate the nation’s military into the game detracts from the experience and degrades our culture.

A baseball game is one of my favorite places to be. As a libertarian, I long for a free society, and a baseball game is one of the most vivid expressions of a harmonious society that anyone can experience. It is peace and cooperation writ large.

For one, the players are not trying to hurt each other as in football. As Cal Ripken quipped, it is a friendly game. Aside from some notorious baseball towns, the peacefulness of the game is also reflected in the peacefulness of the crowd. Such is the spirit of the game that it is not uncommon for fans to applaud spectacular plays made by the visiting team. As such, it is an environment where people love to bring their small children.

But my home team, the Washington Nationals, has a horrible tradition — at every game, a large group of veterans is invited to stand behind the home-plate seats and wave their hats for the camera. The whole stadium rises for a standing ovation to thank them for their “sacrifices.” Every time, a standing ovation. Without exception.

For a society that strives to celebrate liberty, that is cause for worry. One of the greatest fears that the Founders of this country had was that we might one day have a standing army. As James Madison wrote,

A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.

As any Nationals fan can tell you, that fear of soldiers in our midst is now nonexistent. Quite the opposite; their presence is celebrated.

The fear is well founded though, and the chickens are coming home to roost. Our country has been nurturing and growing a military whose capabilities are unparalleled in the annals of human history. Human history has also shown that it is a rare society that does not eventually end up at the wrong end of the spear that its own military holds.

Why do the Nationals pay homage to an institution that the Founders considered such a sinister threat?

For one, ours is a society that rewards a company such as the Nationals for paying homage to the military. If customers did not appreciate and enjoy it, the spectacle would not be provided. The biggest problem is that most citizens love to see tanks and planes on television. That has to stop.

The second problem is that most public entities and people, at the minimum, toe the line. That is a symptom of the first problem, but if companies and people of persuasion were vocal about opposing the militaristic direction in which the country is veering, we would have taken a huge step towards correcting the veer. We need more companies like Lavabit.

Right now the government indiscriminately spies on us and kills anybody it pleases without legal repercussion. This where an adorned love of the military has brought us.

So please Nationals, stop celebrating the military. Stop gathering the veterans behind home plate. Get rid of that submarine horn to celebrate home runs. No more generals throwing out first pitches. No more cadets parading the colors. Never request a military fly-over.

I love baseball so much that I am willing to tolerate the militarism. But this libertarian would surely like to watch the friendly game without all of the unfriendly camouflage.



This post was written by:

Bart Frazier is vice president at The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.