Rose Parade Military Propaganda

by Steven Greenhut

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I’ve been watching a rerun of the Rose Parade, which I’ve always enjoyed – especially when I lived in the San Gabriel Valley and would go visit the floats after the parade and look at the remarkable workmanship. I used to complain about cities that would subsidize the floats, but other than that, it’s a nice event.

But this year it struck me as, in part, a propaganda event for the military.

There was the “freedom isn’t free” float sponsored by the Department of Defense, followed by the appearance of a B2 bomber from the sky.

Certainly, nothing is even close to “free” when the DOD gets near it.

Don’t Americans ever get tired of that cliche? And where exactly are all our freedoms that we’re spending so much to protect these days? I can’t think of anything I can do legally here in California without getting government permission or paying a tax.

Yet parade-goers cheered wildly and the TV commentators fawned over the float.

There was the “canines with courage” float celebrating those dogs who “serve” in the military. They mentioned a new memorial that is going to celebrate those dogs, just as American cops now have grandiose funerals whenever one of those vicious police dogs gets killed in “the line of duty.” (Unlike the poor household dogs that cops routinely kill when they show up at people’s houses. This has become an epidemic in some departments.

The Rose Parade featured a contrived event where a woman was told she won a prize and got to pose in a photo and it turned out that she was posing with her husband, a returning Afghanistan war veteran, This surprise was milked for full mileage by the TV network.

Then there were assorted other military vehicles, marches and floats that celebrated the military.

No wonder we can’t ever get a rational discussion of US military policies or budgets.

At least we’re not marching huge lines of military hardware like they did in the Soviet Union, but maybe it’s not so different. Military displays have long been a part of football games. As George Will wrote, football epitomizes the two worst things about American life – committee meetings and violence. So I’m not surprised about that, but the Rose Parade?

What does it say about our society when even a New Year’s event is punctuated by military displays? Nothing good, I’m sure.

Steven Greenhut (send him mail) is editor-in-chief of, author of Plunder! How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives And Bankrupting The Nation!, and a columnist for The Orange County Register.

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