I saw that bumper sticker today. Actually a few times. You know the one - it's a yellow ribbon with the words, "Support Our Troops" on it. There are other variations. They all piss me off. What exactly does it mean when you put this sticker or magnet on your car? Are you supporting the troops financially? Are you sending care packages and letters to Iraq and Afghanistan? (Remember Afghanistan? The place where there really are terrorists?) Are you volunteering to rehabilitate a veteran amputee or assist a military widow or orphan? Or does it just mean you sent $3.00 to MagnetAmerica.Com to prove to everyone you pass that .... what? To prove what, exactly? (Check out that website. It's a great business idea, but fairly sickening - they took the template for the troops ribbon and you can now get a "Tsunami Aid" ribbon, "In God We Trust" ribbon, "UNC Tarheels National Champs" ribbon... can you possibly cheapen the idea more?)
Anyway, with Passover coming up, it finally came to me. The ribbon is the blood of the paschal lamb, which marked the houses of the Hebrews so that the Angel of Death would not slay their first born. (I can link these - bear with me)
Remember after 9/11/01 when everyone was flying flags? Flag makers couldn't keep up with demand and every other car on the road had a flag magnet. It was a patriotic time. But some people weren't content. They went out looking for cars and houses not displaying flags and accused them of being anti-American, of being unpatriotic, or of being terrorists. The flag became a mark for the right-wing extremists. But it wasn't good enough. Any American could have a flag (if they could find one). It wasn't until the 2004 election when things really got out of control. The black "W" stickers (which, as much as I hate them, are really very clever and well done) started showing up on cars and now you knew who was an American and who was a stinkin' commie liberal. But once the election ended, how do you maintain this mark without looking like the sore winner you are? You shift gears and make it about the war. Cafe Press has a "Pro Bush and Pro GOP" bumper sticker page. They sell the Support Our Troops ribbon. Right next to the "Liberals Make Me Sick" stickers, the "Kerry for President of France" stickers, the "Give Em Zell" stickers, and my favorite, the classy "Foreigners" sticker, portraying the states that elected Bush as real Americans and the rest as belonging to a foreign land.
Sure, some of those teenagers driving daddy's Lexus SUV might have given their allowance to help buy a soldier a candy bar. But most likely the sticker is there to let other right-wingers know that they are loyal to the emperor, and most importantly, that they dislike Democrats. The sticker means, "When you are coming to cut someone off or throw eggs at their car, pass me over, because I'm a Republican." The sad thing is that in this sorry sophomoric political atmosphere, the troops aren't really being supported. They're only now getting the body armor and HumVee armor they need to protect themselves from sniper attacks. They're still losing their jobs when they get back to the states. It's just too bad they have to be on the receiving end of a great political bullying tactic.