Indianapolis 500 Ramps Up Extreme Nationalism, Over the Top Jingoism


american military

Make no mistake about it, my favorite color is a three way tie between red, white and blue. Just look at the colors of this website. Take a look at the photo below to see how I dressed to attend the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. See the American flag emoji in my Twitter profile too.

However, there is patriotism, and then there is nationalism, and then there is patriotism and nationalism combined, on steroids and multiplied to the 10th power, which we usually call jingoism. This is a very hot topic right now, as the NFL decided last week to take the Star Spangled Banner issue and go full on #MAGA #AmericaFirst with it. The National Football League decided to completely pander to the lowest common denominator.

You can enjoy “God Bless America,” or you can take that song and interpret the message to be “God Bless America” and no one else. It was one of the top three warmest Indy 500s on record, and it began with a nationalistic program that went as follows:

-a rendition of America the Beautiful

-a brief speech on the meaning and importance of Memorial Day

-playing of Battle Hymn of the Republic

-a Christian prayer, for all 350,000 people in attendance

-playing of God Bless America

-an Armed Forces promotional video

-the national anthem, followed by a B-2 Stealth Bomber flyover 

-Back Home Again in Indiana (this was awesome by the way! As it was sung by the incomparable Jim Cornelison! This was indeed a transcendent experience)

Then the race began, after four different national anthems, plus the military-industrial complex informercials, and it was watched by tens of thousands of people in patriotic clothing (like myself). One piece of nationalistic clothing I’ve never purchased, in any way, shape or form, is an article of clothing derived from the American flag.

That’s because the U.S. Flag Code reads as follows:

“The Flag Code addresses the impropriety of using the flag as an article of personal adornment, a design of items of temporary use, and item of clothing. The evident purpose of these suggested restraints is to limit the commercial or common usage of the flag, and, thus, maintain its dignity.”


As Collins articulates: 

So what does that mean? You should not use the American flag as an article of clothing. However, in 1976 an amendment was made that allowed uniforms for military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic groups to use a flag patch or pin near the left side, closer the heart.

But it is important to remember that the Flag Code is only intended as a guideline to be followed on a voluntary basis. The Code was originally created to ensure proper respect of our flag.

While the Flag Code may not be enforceable by law, many citizens think wearing the stars and stripes is offensive.

It’s extremely ironic, the group of people that claim to respect the flag the most, are actually the same types of people who are most likely to desecrate it.

See some examples below:

Then on the way home from the game, while passing through the Indiana Wind Farm, near Fowler, there were to guys just waving American flags on a bridge over Interstate-65. 

That was the extent of the political message they were presenting- just waving Old Glory around in 95 degree heat.

What does it all mean? What is the point of this?

Trying to convey this extreme level of patriotism, just like what was done at the Indy 500, is over the top. It just screams overcompensation. You can love your country without having to constantly tell every single person you know, in the loudest way possible. Those on the far far far right of the political spectrum cannot corner the market on the Stars and Stripes, and we need to let them know.  

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC and Chicago, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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  1. […] so at the 102nd running on the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. Yes, the Indy 500 has always been a paragon of jingoistic activity, but 2018 took it to another leve… The Greatest Spectacle of Racing includes FOUR national anthems, not […]

  2. […] Prior to the race, there is an onslaught of patriotic rituals and songs, and the level of excess is truly something to behold. Regardless of your views on the national anthem, I would reccommend seeing this at least once, as it’s the most interesting part of the annual spectacle. Here’s the 2018 Indy 500 pregame set list (includes a GREAT use of taxpayer dollars by utilizi…) […]

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