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March Madness Begins (And So Does a Sixth Year of Occupation)

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Every year for the past five years, I have printed off a bracket or taken the bracket that all American newspapers provide to Americans and filled it out. I have gone to great lengths to ensure that my picks are the best picks. I have made sure that the Final Four are in fact what the Final Four should and will be. This does not mean I have been right but I have allowed this completion of a bracket to consume hours of my time by researching and analyzing statistics.

I do not regularly watch sports but something about filling out that bracket is highly appealing. Predicting what will happen and having your predictions come true is satisfying and builds ego. It builds ego that graciously claims winnings when pronounced the winner of bracket pools you have put money into.

This year I did nothing to prepare myself for picks on Sunday. I had no plans to watch Selection Sunday. I do not know what teams are going to be picked or not (although I do know thanks to my father what teams have the best shot of getting to the Final Four). I do not even think I watched one entire college basketball game this entire season. I ask myself why this may be.

Invariably, I find myself struggling with the thought that we Americans are going to continue our habitually disconnected lifestyle by engaging in a highly American activity in the next four weeks that speaks to one of America’s highest esteemed values, winning, which will promote further ignorance of the occupation of Iraq and contribute to American inaction towards ending the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

We are going into a sixth year of occupation. This war has now gone on longer than America’s engagement in World War II. It has taken over 4,000 of our brave men and women’s lives, but more importantly, it has taken over a million Iraqi lives. This occupation has been illegal, immoral, and senseless.

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Yet, Americans still feel this undying need to pursue a quest for "victory" in Iraq. So many feel the soldiers deserve to win so all that they have done is not all for naught.

But, America is no longer engaged in war in Iraq or Afghanistan. American forces are engaged in occupation for control of Iraq’s oil and for corporate and government war profiteering.

This idea of occupation does not seem to faze Americans. Americans do not feel the need to do the job that the media is doing and Google “Iraq War” or “occupation” on their computers to find the latest. Some do but not enough.

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And not enough Americans logged on to learn the truth from the Winter Soldier Investigations. For as much as we Americans claim to “support the troops”, you would have thought we would all universally seek to find out what they were going to be “investigating” from March 13-16.

At this moment, no articles exist on the World Wide Web from CNN, FOX News, ABC News, CBS, or MSNBC. They offered no coverage of this historic event.

Outside of people who regularly peruse alternative and independent news media sources, there have been no objections to the media’s refusal to cover IVAW’s “Winter Soldier Investigation.”

Based on that, it would seem that the “Winter Soldier Investigation” faces another campaign. The event must be put on DVD and disseminated as widely as possible so that people can hear true eyewitness accounts of the occupation.

And so, as "Winter Soldier" comes to an end and March Madness kicks off this Thursday, March 20th, interestingly on the “Day of Resistance” to the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War, I ask if you will have the courage or the guts to turn your television off and not engage in March Madness. I take this a step further…

…Will you encourage college athletes participating in the games during March Madness to make a statement to Americans during the Star-Spangled Banner (and after the guy on the intercom requests people stand up to support the brave men and women of America who keep this nation free) by raising their fist high into the air?

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At the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, medal winners John Carlos and Tommie Smith gave the raised fist salute during the American national anthem as a sign of black power and protest on behalf of the Olympic Project for Human Rights.

Is it not time for our college athletes to do something similar to what Carlos and Smith did by defying the blind call given at all college basketball games for Americans to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” as a show of support for the men and women deployed overseas? If the deployment is now an occupation, our national anthem should no longer be praising the actions of our military. College athletes should let them know with a fist raised in the air that it is time for our brave men and women to come home.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com

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