Recently, Fox Nation, home of conservative media and fans of the Trump administration, put politics aside for the inaugural Fox Nation Patriot Awards. This live event in St. Petersburg, Florida, sold tickets and VIP seats to local, everyday people. Then they glitzed up the Mahaffey Theater and sent cameras out to honour anyone they consider patriots.
For example, Marine vet Rob Jones was injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Now, he runs marathons across the country proving that his active life didn’t have to end after becoming an amputee. Ironically, the next day while appearing on Fox & Friends about his award, he announced he was seeking the Republican nomination to run for Congress in Virginia. So much for putting politics aside.
But “everyday American heroes” should be honoured for their work and patriotism. And both businesses and individuals were recipients, including a military-themed restaurant chain that has a veteran hiring program and a teenager who inspired patriotism in his neighbourhood.
However, turning it into an award made some categories a little, well, weird. Fox handed out the “Most Patriotic Sportsman” and the “Ultimate Patriot Award.” Jones, himself, won the “MVP: Most Valuable Patriot.”
How does one judge the “most valuable” patriot? Do they count the number of limbs blown off in battle? Is “almost dead” more or less patriotic than dying on the battlefield?
I congratulate Jones on battling back from losing both his legs to run multiple marathons and inspire others. But is that the yardstick by which other soldiers (or patriots) must measure themselves now?
Decorated Air Force veteran Dan Rooney won the title of “Ultimate Patriot” – which frankly, sounds like a video game. Rooney founded the Folds of Honor Foundation, a non-profit that gives scholarships to the families of fallen or disabled veterans. He certainly deserves recognition. He served three tours and now serves his fellow soldiers at home. However, the Folds of Honor Foundation also just happens to be the recipient of the proceeds from the awards ceremony itself. So Rooney’s “award” seems more like a “prize.”
Other honourees also left me wondering. A Connecticut hockey coach was honoured because of a viral video of a pre-game speech in which he told the players to “get the f—k out” if they knelt during the national anthem. However, this hasn’t really been a problem in minor hockey leagues or even the NHL – which makes his tirade totally unnecessary. Pointless. So how does this result in a patriot award? Oh yes, because it went viral.
Patriotism shouldn’t be about social media likes or being the “best” at it. Patriotism is, by definition, simply a feeling of love, devotion, and attachment to a homeland and its citizens that directs one’s actions. It’s not to be measured or judged. It’s not a title to be handed out for one year and then given to someone else the next, like a football trophy.
I thank Fox Nation for honouring everyday heroes. But it seems they missed the point on patriotism.