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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/18/14

U.S. Scores Gold Medal in Olympic Propaganda

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The Miracle on Ice
The Miracle on Ice
(Image by Rosemount Hockey)
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The ceaseless U.S. propaganda campaign that has relentlessly smeared Russia and particularly Vladimir Putin ever since he granted asylum to former government contractor turned NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and then derailed the big push for a war on Syria scored big time on Saturday. The 2014 edition of the U.S. Olympic men's hockey team beat their Russian counterparts, setting off a wave of raw nationalist fervor and conjuring up memories of the late Cold War era. 

One of the greatest propaganda triumphs of the latter part of the 20th Century was when the 1980 men's Olympic team defied all odds and beat the big red machine at Lake Placid, NY in what was proclaimed as the "Miracle on Ice" sending a reeling nation into jubilation and pride and creating a cottage industry. In their typical unstuck in time, lacking historical context and politically motivated fashion, the state-corporate media seized on the win -- the final result cemented in one of those ridiculous bush league shootouts that the National Hockey League has adopted to market the sport domestically -- to poke a star spangled middle finger into Putin's eye.

It was a tight, hard-fought game played before a raucous crowd at the Bolshoi Ice Dome that included the Russian leader himself in which the U.S. squad benefited hugely from a disallowed goal late in the third period that led to the shootout. St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie then scored four times in the shootout for the final 3-2 tally. Being a hockey fan, there are two things that I despise with one being poor officiating and two being those ridiculous shootouts, how better to wreck a good game than ending it in a silly skills contest? In the NHL playoffs there is a thing called overtime and the teams play until one actually wins in an honest fashion. The disallowed Russian goal was one of the former, the net was kicked off of its moorings by U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings. The problem is not that the net was moved (a look at the video shows that it clearly was) but that it went unnoticed by anyone until Quick himself pointed it out after he was beaten for the likely winning goal. As in all sports contests, fans tend to go off over lousy officiating, a Russian politician's tweet was grabbed and featured in the Washington Post under "Russian Politician Smells a Rat" another drive-by press shooting.

The post-game results were predictable. The comparisons to the 1980 team and the "Miracle on Ice" were used early and often despite the fact that none of the current members of the U.S. team had even been born yet when Mike Eruzione punched his squad's ticket with destiny. That there is no comparison whatsoever between the teams, in 1980 there were no professional athletes, unlike now when every member plays in the NHL which takes a nearly three-week mid-season hiatus for the Olympics.

The Russian team at that time was an awesome global powerhouse while the U.S. bunch was a scrappy, well-coached collection of amateurs with plenty of heart. It was a historic sports upset that was well deserving of the adoration for a tremendous achievement. It's just hard to get too revved over a collection of highly paid mercenaries who will be back on their own teams come next week. None of this matters though to the pathetic excuse for a media. One of the more nauseating pieces comes from Sports Illustrated:

"On the first day of the rest of his life, T. J. Oshie, shootout god, had gained some 50,000 Twitter followers and at least one nickname:

"'Now he can talk about his (goals) for the next 30 years,' defenseman Ryan Suter said of Oshie, a comment that also served as a sly dig at the man who scored the game winner in the 1980 Miracle against the Soviet Union and has been dining out on it ever since. 'We've been giving (T.J.) a hard time in the room. I even told my Dad that. (Bob Suter played on the 1980 Olympic team.) He said that maybe now we can talk about something else for a while.'

"Because jibes are the currency of the dressing room, Oshie is now the richest man in Sochi -- an American hockey oligarch. He heard the chirping the second he walked into the room after the Russian game on Saturday because, really, no good deed should go unpunished. There are other nicknames floating around -- Team USA captain Zach Parise apparently has a beauty -- but Oshie is trying to squash them before they leak. Or worse, trend.

"'More Twitter followers, that's about it,' Oshie said when asked about how his life had changed after Team USA's 5-1 victory over Slovenia on Sunday, a win that gave the Americans a direct berth into the quarterfinals on Wednesday. 'I'm still the same guy, the same hockey player, just out here having fun.'"

Oshie keeps it in perspective; his St. Louis Blues are in the thick of the race in the Western Conference and the most coveted hardware to a professional hockey player is the Stanley Cup. Besides, the win over the Russians was only the preliminary round, there is the possibility that they will meet again later this week. But even if the U.S. wins again, it will be no "Miracle on Ice." The duel for the gold will probably be between the U.S. and Canada, the Russians just aren't in the same league as the 1980 big red machine and are saddled with both the perennial choker Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals and vicious woman abuser Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche.

The real winner of the Olympic gold medal, at least in the propaganda slalom, would be the ever abysmal domestic media here in The Homeland. They continue to plumb the depths with their ongoing hatchet job on all things Russian. You have to be a serious cynic to find humor in it, but how do you not laugh when reading something as idiotic as this from the Washington Post, "In Russia, World War II is suddenly everywhere again" that unbelievably slams the Russians for invoking WWII:

"The pageant of Russian history presented in the Olympic Opening Ceremonies passed over the Soviet victory in World War II to the consternation of more than a few patriots. But the war seems to be making the news these days more than ever nonetheless.

"Russian sacrifices in the fight against the Nazis 70 years ago were stupendous, and feelings still run deep. Every family paid a price, and the war haunts everyday life here in a way that short-memory Americans would find startling. But there's another side to its legacy: For decades after the war, Soviet leaders sought to reinforce their legitimacy by exploiting the memory of the titanic struggle.

"And today the Russian government appears to be turning in the same direction.

"President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin has portrayed Russia as being under ideological attack. The West, it says, wants to impose a different and alien value system on the Russian people. Critics say Putin has been warning against demons abroad as a way of shoring up his own standing during uncertain times.

"And there could be no more potent denunciation of the West's alleged motives than to compare them to those of Nazi Germany."

I don't know where to start on this one. It is lost on the writer that World War II references are often used to justify everything in The Homeland, each new war is spun by invoking the "good war" and every foreign leader with which the U.S. establishment has an ax to grind is the "new Hitler." As for the west (translation: the U.S. of A.) and comparisons to Nazi Germany, I wonder where one would get a crazy idea like that. After all, it's not like our media has become the greatest propaganda machine since the Goebbels era, nor do we engage in illegal invasions of foreign countries, we sure don't have a massive Gestapo-like surveillance apparatus spying on our every conversation, text, purchase and email, and it's not like we will ever have internment camps here. Those damned Russians are totally batshit!

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Donn Marten is a free lance writer and consultant who resides in West Central Florida.

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