Rooting for the home team

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Sep 24 12:11:24 MDT 2001

NY Times, September 24, 2001
Chiefs' Fans Add Red and White to Giants' Blue


KANSAS CITY, Mo., Sept. 23 - It was on the team bus, several hundred yards
from Arrowhead Stadium, that the Giants first knew they were heading for a
different kind of football afternoon.

"All these people in Chiefs jerseys turned toward our bus to give us a
thumbs up or a wave or even a salute," wide receiver Joe Jurevicius said.

Two hours later, the Giants were waiting in the stadium tunnel that
connected their locker room and the Arrowhead field.

"People started leaning over the railing, which usually isn't allowed,"
running back Tiki Barber said. "But they wanted to hold our hands during
the singing of `God Bless America.' So we held hands."


Right now New York City has turned into a huge pep rally. Everywhere you
turn, there are flags. Flags on trucks, flags on clothing, flags being
clutched by pedestrians as they walk down the street like two-year olds
holding on to flannel blankets for security. These flags are like pennants
for the home team just before the game that will determine the world champion.

Since the average American's life revolves around professional sports, it
is no accident that the NYC baseball and football teams have been enlisted
in the fight against terrorism. Yesterday Yankee Stadium was host to a big
patriotic rally co-hosted by African-American celebrities James Earl Jones
(the voice of Darth Vader) and Oprah Winfrey who told the audience "God
bless New York!" and "We shall not be moved" over and over. The only
consolation was the disappointing crowd size as the NY Times reported this

"The police gave no crowd estimates, but it appeared that only a third of
Yankee Stadium's 57,000 seats were occupied. At KeySpan Park in Brooklyn, a
few hundred people were in the stands built for 8,000. At Richmond County
Bank Ballpark in Staten Island, a third of the 6,500 seats were filled.
Riverfront Stadium in Newark canceled its participation in the event.
Organizers had said they hoped to fill all four parks. It was unclear why
the crowds failed to meet expectations, but many grieving families may not
have wanted to appear in public."

Perhaps the answer is that some people are just tired of nonstop appeals to
kill America's enemies, mixed with maudlin panoramic shots of the WTC
rubble on television. Today I took a stroll across the Columbia campus and
was pleased to see that not a single student was wearing the stars and
stripes. Beneath Low Library, a teach-in was taking place. Peter Marcuse,
Herbert's son and an urban planning professor, was telling the students
that they had to reject the war hysteria. It is times like this that I am
truly grateful to have a job at this institution.

Some on the left might be tempted to view this flag-waving as lurching
toward fascism. Interestingly enough, the American pep rally was an
inspiration for Hitler's Nuremberg Rallies, if this July 28, 2001 Guardian
article is correct:


How cheerleaders gave birth to 'Sieg Heil'

Julian Borger in Washington

The historical consensus about the Nazis' "Sieg Heil" yell is that Hitler
copied it from Mussolini's fascists with whom he shared a taste for
grandiose thuggery. But US wartime intelligence had an alternative theory -
it was borrowed from American cheerleaders.

That unlikely claim is one of many observations and anecdotes in a bizarre
document recently declassified by the CIA - a pyschological profile of
Hitler assembled in 1942 by one of the CIA's forerunners, the Office for
Strategic Services (OSS). The profile relies heavily on the personal
observations of one of Hitler's best friends in the 1920s, Ernst
Hanfstaengl, whom the future Fuhrer knew as "Putzi" but who appears in the
profile under the codename, Dr Sedgwick. The Hitler file also strays into
psychoanalytical speculation about the Nazi leader's sexuality based on his
fondness for circuses and whips.

In an analysis of Hitler's taste in music, the document naturally mentions
Wagner, Strauss and Liszt. Then comes the extraordinary claim about the
origin of the Hitler salute: "In 1923 he adored American football marches
and college songs. The 'Sieg Heil!' used in all political rallies is a
direct copy of the technique used by American football cheerleaders.
American college type of music was used to excite the German masses who had
been used to very dry-as-dust political lectures."

Louis Proyect
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