Monday, April 11, 2005

I Support Our Troops (do you?)

     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.

19 comments:

Shannon said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Scott. I can't think of anything more asinine than the yellow magnets. "I support the troops by supporting the idea to go to war in the first place!" Your connection the Lamb's blood is spot on. Why else would someone feel so strongly about identifying themselves as a troop supporter? As if the Cadillac SUV wasn't identifying enough...

Although, I have seen a few on cars with Kerry and Anti-Dubya bumper stickers, which kind of confuses me.

Scott said...

   Maybe they're liberals trying to reclaim patriotism from the grasp of the Republicans? Actually, in October, before the election, I was considering getting 2 bumper stickers: one that said Kerry/Edwards and some form of "I Support the Troops" to show that you can support the troops but not the war.
   Then I remembered I live in Georgia and it doesn't make the slightest bit of difference what I think since this is a solid red state.

"AG" said...

I hate those magnets. My husband was in the USMC for 13 years, we were married for the last three years he was in. Until a few months ago we were regular volunteers at our local veterans home and then my company did this. We also have helped out at the National Guard family assistance center. But we don't have those ridiculous magnets on our car. I'd rather give my money to someone who needs it, not a for-profit opportunist.

Thanks for posting in my blog.:)

Ben said...

I don't know about the lamb's blood, seeing as there have been far more reported incidents of vandalism on cars with W stickers, according to reports I read up to the election.

Anyway, what about AIDS ribbons? Are all those people just pricks who are unwilling to do anything to help people other than buy a ribbon? Furthermore, if I spend $3 to buy a "support the troops" magnet, you'd be making a really inane assumption to think that means that that's all I did to support the troops. Perhaps you are all reflecting your own cynicism and unwillingness to help anyone besides yourself on to other people. Insteadof bitching about others, why don't you do something? At least the people with ribbons donated some small amount of money to a cause they believe in.

Oh, and since when does driving a Cadillac SUV mean you support Bush? That's completely assinine seeing as Escalades have become a huge thing to your typical bling bling rapper and the millions who worship them, and few, if any, big name rappers supported Bush. And you show me a conservative driving an SUV, and I'll show you 10 liberals who waste gas on their SUVs while they drive to environmental protests.

Mike said...

Scott,

You obviously miss the point of the ribbons if you think it is just supporting a magnet company. Displaying a ribbon is like putting a bumper sticker of your favorite NFL team on your car. The money doesn't go to your team, but you're showing you're a fan and you hope they do well. What's wrong with hoping we win? If you don't want to put a ribbon on your car that's fine. I have no problem with that. But if you hope our troops lose, I have a serious problem with that. Hoping our country fails is un-American no matter how you put it.

And that is such a cheap shot saying the troops are just now getting the armor they need. Liberals seem to think that no casualties are acceptable. Any war with casualties isn't worth fighting. That's ridiculous. All wars have casualties. Civilians die. That's war. Winning a war isn't breaking the will of the General in charge of the other side. War is breaking the will of the people who support the opposing government. You look over the past 200 years and you'll see that every war we won we won because we were resolved to win and the other side wasn't or had their will broken. So supporting the troops and supporting your country is necessary if you're going to win a war. Regardless of whether or not you support the reason for going to war, it is our duty as Americans to support the war and the troops once the war has begun. If you don't, you are a traitor.

Ben said...

Hey Mike Hubell, you might enjoy my blog a bit more. ben.sleepingfeet.com, full of somewhat more logical rants, and avoids needless hatred.

"AG" said...

Mike,

I can't speak for Scott (obviously), but from reading his post I think he's saying what I am, which is that it's easy to make a token gesture of support like slapping a magnet purchased from a for-profit company on your car as opposed to giving something more important- your time and effort. I know that many military family support centers coordinate volunteers to help families with yard work, etc while their spouses are deployed. There are lots of ways to plug yourself in.

Scott said...

    Mike, I actually really like your analogy saying that displaying the magnets is like rooting for your favorite team. I mean, it's obviously a game with more serious consequences... but the point is the same. I sat and chewed it over during my break.
    I guess here's my issue: Like I said in a previous comment, I considered getting one for my car. I don't hate the magnets, per se. I hate the way they're used. I hate how they've become political, how Republicans have linked liking the war with liking the soldiers - to the point where even progressives think it's odd that a car might sport a John Kerry sticker and a yellow ribbon at the same time.
    It's possible to be against the war and be for the soldiers. How do you feel about Enron the company? Would you feel the same way about the receptionists and the HR Staff there? Is it possible to say, "I don't support what Enron did" in the same breath as, "I hope those poor employees are going to be OK"?
    The AIDS ribbons: A) I never said anyone was a prick B) the answer is "yes" if what the person is doing is displaying the ribbon and patting himself or herself on the back for being such a great supporter for the cause.
    And Ben, feel free to disagree with me on everything - I'm still glad you read and post to my blog and I'll do the same on yours. But your arguments, right or wrong, are logically incoherent and you make unfounded and false accusations and assumptions. I never said "driving a Cadillac SUV mean you support Bush". And do you really think that 10 times as many liberals drive SUVs as conservatives, or were you just pulling the number out of your butt?

ORF said...

The issue I have with those gigantic magnets (aesthetic ramifications aside) is that they just seem so damned sanctimonious. As if to say that the person bearing the magnet on their car is a better person than I because they are making an outward display of their patriotism wherever they go. I agree, Scott, that those magnets go a long way to politicize the war in Iraq and our engagement in Afghanistan.

I don't happen to own a car, but if I did, it most certainly would NOT have one of those stickers on it. Nor would it bear an American flag, but I don't think that in any way makes me a traitor. I simply think that our involvement there is a lot more complicated than slapping a yellow magnet on the side of my car boils it down to. Benedict Arnold sold Washington and Co. out to the British after dedicated military service to the Revolution; John Walker Lindh actively engaged with the Taliban against the United States and other western countries; that's a big leap to take saying that someone who does not support military engagement on a dogmatic level is treasonous to his or her country or, even, that they lack patriotic fervor.

Do I support the men and women who defend our borders and build schools for indigent children in countries where our government has made a royal snakes' nest of things? Abso-fucking-lutely. However, my support of them (and concern for their safety, Ben, which is legitimate and I will argue that it is legitimate until towns in Ohio stop having to take up a collection at the supermarket so that the mother of a soldier has enough money to buy his entire platoon Kevlar vests) is exclusive of how I feel about their Commander in Chief or his decision to put them there. I do not wish to see them "lose," nor do I wish Iraq or Afghanistan to meet any more hardship than either country already faces, but I simply cannot support the reasons or the means by which the government put our citizens in those places to begin with. (And let's not even discuss the fact that a lot of the people over there defending us are in the military simply because it's the only viable means of citizenship or education they can afford.)

The last time I checked, President Bush never once asked the people of New York City how we felt about the events of September 11 and how we as a nation should proceed in response. It makes me furious to think that we are involved in these conflicts more or less on behalf of this city and the others who died in PA and DC when it was so evident from the RNC that not many people up here support him or his cronies.

The perfect example of how political it's all become: a friend of mine who lives in NC was asked to park her Kerry sticker-bearing car in a lot about five hundred yards from her office building until after the election was over unless she was willing to remove the sticker. No one with a "W" sticker was asked to move.

sideshow bob said...

Where can I get a "I support the war, but not our troops" magnet?

And Ben, you know how you heard somewhere (Republicans sources of choice: "I saw it on Fox News" and "I heard it somewhere"...same thing, as far as journalistic standards are concerned, I suppose) that more cars with W's were vandalized? Perhaps that has more to do with a hatred for Bush than a show of support for Kerry. Or, more likely, they were vandalized because the drivers were such unbelievable pricks who acted as if the highway was their own personal rolling phonebooth.

Just a guess...

Sylvana said...

Mike and Ben, you two should get a room.
Mike, I am sickened that you would liken our troops in war to a game of entertainment such as the NFL. These men have their lives on the line, not some sort of championship and gaudy ring. You really have to give that smack up.
Ben, what have you done besides just buying a magnet. You know, if your really wanted to support the troops you could have skipped getting the magnet and sent the whole amount to organizations collecting money to bring soldiers home to visit, or to help the widows of the veteran, or to get more armor for our troops. Is that magnet going to keep a bullet from killing one of our fine young men fighting the war that was forced on this country via a pack of lies?
In response to Sideshow's comment- Oh, SNAP!!

Mike said...

Yeah, I knew somebody was going to spin my comment into comparing a war to a football game. That was obviously not the intent. I was talking about bumperstickers. Stop picking nit.

For the record, whenever I've come across anyone taking donations for care packages for the troops, I've emptied my wallet. Whatever I had on me. And yes, I have a yellow ribbon on my car.

Like I said, if you don't want to display a magnet because you don't want to line corporate pockets, that's fine. I have no problem with that. If you don't agree with the reason for going to war, that's fine too.

Personally, I've never heard anyone say "You can't be against the war and for the troops." I've heard alot of anti-war people complain they hear people say that, but I've never heard anyone say it. And we all know how heresy holds up in court. I challenge anyone to find a direct quote from any well known republican politician.

I do think when people say they are against the war it demoralizes the troops. How would you like to be on the other side of the world getting shot at and reading the headlines about people protesting why you are there? I don't think it helps one bit. The time for debating why we went to war is over. We're in it now. And as Americans we should do everything to support our country. If a reservist comes home on leave and gets a good feeling about seeing all the yellow ribbons before he goes back, then dammit, I want a yellow ribbon on my car too cuz that guy (or girl) has a lot more courage than any of us.

Ben said...

Scoot, I never said you said that driving an SUV means you're a Bush person. One of the commenters said it, and that was what I was responding to. And nowhere in my statement do I say that 10 times as many liberals drive SUVs as conservatives, just that I can easily find 10 that do.

I don't have a support the tropps button, nor do I do anything to support the troops, except in my rhetoric. On the other hand, I don't sit on my high horse bitching about other people buying ribbons and not doing anything. People who bitch about ribbons and do nothing are worse than people who at least buy ribbons.

I support the troops with the attitude of "Thanks for putting your butt on the line as a representative of my country, and thanks for your effort in freeing millions of people and contributing to a peaceful future." You support the troops by saying, "Everything you are doing is evil, despite the fact that you believe in it, but I hope you don't die too much, just enough that they will bring you home, and leave millions of Iraqis to suffer."

Ben said...

Oh yeah, and my comment about more Bush sticker cars being vandalized was my reaction to Scott making unfounded comments like saying that everyone with a yellow ribbon is a Bush supporter who is telling people to leave their car alone because they are in special club. Since that is ridiculous with absolutely nothing to back it up, I decided to say something equally ridiculous with nothing to back it up. I notice how partisan the comments are. The obviosuly left-leaning people let Scott get away with saying things with nothing to back it up, and attack the right-leaning people for the same.

canis lupus said...

I think Richard Jeni was on to something when he said, "Putting a God Bless America sticker on your SUV is like a whore wearing a rosary." Just thought I'd share. BTW, great blog.

Mike said...

Oh give me a break. Now if you drive an SUV you're not American? Do you guys really think people drive SUVs just to pollute the environment? I drive an SUV. I drive it because I have a family and I need to haul a lot of stuff. I can't fit it all in small car and I don't want to be one of those pathetic guys who drive a mini-van. It's unfortunate that it doesn't get good gas mileage, but that doesn't mean I take pleasure in contributing to global warming (I'll share my opinions on global warming some other time).

ORF said...

Mike, I think you are the reason SUVs are acceptable: if you need it, awesome. I agree, minivans are uber dorky and SUVs have hemi (or whatever that guy teaches that little kid to say in those ads).

But, if one suffers from some kind of weirdly misplaced phallic envy and insists upon driving one's Humvee through the streets of New York (which are, admittedly bumpy and so full of potholes it CAN feel like off-roading) then you have another thing coming. That is just having a Humvee for the sheer sake of flaunting one's wealth and/or ego and has nothing at ALL to do with actually needing the damned thing. Ironically, I feel that driving an SUV is one of the most outwardly "American" things one can do, albeit perhaps not in the way you are suggesting "American" to mean, Mike. I mean it in that "I can do whatever the hell I damned well please because we have the biggest defense spending budget in the world and control the flow of most of the earth's petroleum and need three cars and two homes and a boat and a trip to Disney World and a flat-screen TV" excess kind of way. I believe it's also known as "entitlement," and I think more and more people feel it was implied in the whole "Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness" bit of the Constitution.

Scott said...

I like Disney World

ORF said...

I'm not tryin' to hate. I totally described my uncle in that list of things. I love my uncle. And Disney World, for that matter. That Haunted House thing rocked my ten-year-old world so many years ago. It just fit into the description rather nicely as a destination vacation that is often equated with status. Can I get a woot woot for Mickey Mouse?!?!