In the previous post I mentioned a second thing that shocked me at Indy 500 100th Run of 2016 that almost made me cry in anger. To better explain it, let me first start with a little information about myself.
I am Chilean. I was born in 1962. In 1973, when I was 11 years old, the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet took control of the country and didn’t leave until 1990, when I was already 28 years old, married, and with a 2 years old son. Since I was 11 till I was 28. 17 years of military dictatorship. My growing years. You can check “Augusto Pinochet” in case you don’t know what that military dictatorship was.
I remember the military indoctrination; the attempts to brain wash young people (like me at that time) in convincing them of all the good military was, and all the bad of anybody else, especially those who didn’t agree with them and their ideas, presenting the others as enemies of the nation, the people, God and life itself. I remember their ways.
At the Indy 500 I expected a race! Well, the race was just the last portion of the show. The whole thing started at 6am with several elements on schedule for the next five hours, to start the race at around 1pm, which should last for another 2, and the finishing point for about one hour with the closing ceremonies.
That meant around six hours of show and only two of race.
Now, I can understand the race is run one day before Memorial Day, and so it is part of the Memorial Day commemorations. But turning a day of remembering and having feelings of thankfulness to those who gave their lives in different wars throughout the history of this country, into a military indoctrination day?
As far as I know Memorial Day is about all men and women who gave their lives in the different wars the US have been into, starting with the Independence wars to the latest today. So why present footage of Pearl Harbor in the screens? Why mention Pearl Harbor only and not any other war? Why have on site military survivors of that day to tell about their memories? Why then give them a ride in convertibles around the track, so people could see them and applaud them? And then why talk about how the military responded and went into war? Why not talking about any other war? Why not mentioning the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
In all honesty, what is the difference between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Both were without warning. Sure, the US and Japan were at war by the time of the Hiroshima bombing, but the Japanese were unaware of nuclear bombs and their consequences.
It all was EXACTLY as the military indoctrination of the military dictatorship I knew when growing up in my country. But contrary to the times in my country, I could see around how people at the track were responding in a positive way to the indoctrination! They were accepting it. They were taking it all.
Then the narrator went on to talk about the country of freedom and respect for others, and I remembered a Japanese pilot at the starting grid (Takuma Sato); what must have he been thinking at that moment? Maybe he was thinking: “I am Japanese, but have nothing to do with Pearl Harbor”; Maybe he was thinking: “What about Hiroshima and Nagasaki?”, or maybe he was thinking about his strategy for the race and not listening to what was happening around him. I hope so.
Yes, the military dictatorship in my country used to talk a lot about being the country of freedom and respect for others.
I felt sick inside.
For a moment I had to seat down (while everybody around was on their feet applauding the veterans in the convertibles going around). I had to contain my desires of screaming and my tears. I had to remind myself these people have never really had oppression, so they don’t really know what it is. They live in fear of someone coming to take their freedom, but they have never had repression, so they don’t really know it. They don’t know what it is.
It was a bad moment of memories and involuntary comparisons, so it became the second thing that shocked me at the Indy 500.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I do support the Memorial Day and its meaning. I even mentioned my family there that if I find a cap with the letters MIA, which I understand means Missing In Action, and is a way to support those who died at wars, I would buy and wear such cap. I do respect and appreciate the sacrifice of those who died at wars, but I do despise the use of Memorial Day as a way of political and militarist propaganda, especially in a sporting event that, among other things, is an international event, with many pilots coming from other countries to compete here.
Don’t they deserve a little more respect? The fact that it is an international event is because pilots from other countries come here, so why use that for publicity purposes of the event, call it “The Greatest Race in The World”, and then turn it into a local event by programming a ceremony that is a local indoctrination of “Us Against Them”…of political and militarist propaganda.
By growing in a military dictatorship I learned to recognize the way militarist propaganda is made, and what I saw at Indy 500 was EXACTLY that.
I felt sick, and that’s why that situation became the second most shocking element I experienced at the 2016 Indy 500.