Since September 11th, we Americans have been called upon to renew our patriotic spirit in every way. A lot of that is fine, but a good deal of it is nothing but cheap jingoistic pandering, and I’m getting sick of it.

First we had to get on an airplane or the terrorists had won. Fine, I like to travel, and we had already planned three trips in the last quarter of this year. No hijacking SOBs were going to keep me out of the sky. When you live in the middle of the country and want to go to one of the coasts for a weekend, driving is out of the question. So, getting up, up, and away was no problem. We didn’t book any new trips, but we didn’t cancel any of our travel plans, either. And we beat the terrorists, right?

Next, we were told we had to go to the mall and shop, or the terrorists had won. Frankly, I hate the mall and try to stay away as much as possible unless I absolutely positively am out of socks. Fortunately, my wife easily balances my lack of mall attendance and can single-handedly keep several store clerks busy at once. So, together, we beat the terrorists, right?

Then we also had to buy a car or the terrorists had won. Personally, I already had a car I was quite happy with, and had no intention of buying another one just to keep America strong. We have a friend who is sales manager for a large car dealer. He tells me that during this whole zero-financing promotion, they have sold more cars than ever before. If you’re one of those who bought new wheels, he thanks you. And America thanks you, because buying that car helped us beat the terrorists, right?

The next warning we got came from Attorney General John Ashcroft, who reminded us that if we criticized anything he said or did, that we were just helping the enemy. In other words, don’t use your constitutionally-protected right to dissent or the terrorists have won. So most Americans quietly agreed to trust their government to only do the right thing, and we beat the terrorists, right?

Last week, when President Bush signed a new federal anti-drug bill, he said, “If you quit drugs, you join the fight against terrorism.” That’s right, you crackheads! Put down that pipe or the terrorists have won. I’m sure this will be a highly effective anti-drug argument. Ask any addict what has kept them from giving up their habit, and they’ll tell you that they were just looking for some global objective to aspire to. On the other hand, I’ll bet that there are some Americans who became so afraid after 9/11 that they started using drugs.

Even the NFL is getting into the “invoke the terrorists” act. Today, the Associated Press reported that commissioner Paul Tagliabue has asked that New York and Washington be considered as hosts for the Super Bowl to help the cities recover from the attacks.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello is quoted as saying, “the economic and intangible impact…would help establish either or both cities as attractive tourist sites.”

Hmm. Tourism in New York and Washington? I think the word is already out, Greg. Unless your real plan is to boost tourism in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Landover, Maryland, where the stadiums are actually located. I understand that there’s a very nice display at the local TGIFriday’s in each city, which tourists will certainly flock to.

What makes The Commish’s request even lamer is that he’s not talking about having New York or Washington as the host city for the next Super Bowl. Or the one after that. Or the one after that. Or even the one after that.

He’s talking about the game in the year 2007!!!

That’s five years from now! That’s more recovery time than you need for Mariah Carey, Aaron Sorkin, and that tattooed Backstreet Boy combined.

Don’t get me wrong. New York and Washington are both great towns. I’ve lived in both places, and they are both too damned cold at the end of January to host the Super Bowl outdoors!

I speak from experience. I was in Minneapolis for the big game in 1992. Although it was a nice and toasty 72 degrees inside the Metrodome, we still had to travel through the frozen outside air (official temperature “too freakin’ cold,” with a wind chill of “are you out of your mind?”) to get to the game. Parts of my body retracted so far they didn’t come back out until well into the second quarter.

What I’m saying is that if The Meadowlands or FedEx Field is the site for the Super Bowl, the NFL had better make it Heated Seat Cushion Night.

Before picking a cold-weather venue, why not pick a fine American municipality with a domed stadium that has never hosted a Super Bowl? Someplace that doesn’t get as cold as it does back east. Choose a city with a franchise that has won the Vince Lombardi trophy recently and has fans who would never throw Miller beer bottles onto the field to protest a controversial call by the referees (after all, St. Louis is a Budweiser city). Just a thought.