The magnetic “Support our troops” ribbons on so many cars edge toward ridiculous from tedious as U.S. involvement in Iraq continues to bog down.
It’s always been tedious because it’s nearly impossible to find anyone who doesn’t support the troops — hapless kids, many of them, trying to rise above lower-class origins by risking their lives following the orders of rich, safe people arguably responsible for their lower-class origins. Urging people via magnet to “Support our troops” has about as much point as urging them to “Appreciate democracy.” And it’s about as helpful as suggesting via bumper sticker that they “Visualize world peace.” For most, these are passive activities that end with the purchase of a magnet or bumper sticker.
The increasingly ridiculous aspect is that the ribbons are magnetic.
With our military “routinely talking about a major U.S. presence in Iraq that will last, at a minimum, into the next decade,” as Bob Herbert noted in The New York Times today, it would make more sense for anyone with such a ribbon to really commit. Those driving around with “Support our troops” on their cars shouldn’t be dilettantes. Either support the troops and get the message affixed permanently or just don’t bother.
The temporary nature of the ribbon is suspect because it suggests that the buyer’s support wavers: I supported the troops yesterday because things were going well; I don’t today because I’m in a bad mood; I supported the troops last weekend because the weather was good; I don’t now because I’m going to a wedding and need to show off the car.
Even more ridiculous is that after the U.S. military leaves Iraq — which some experts believe could come quite soon — its forces will still be somewhere, on some mission or another, probably at risk of death or maiming, loneliness and depression. Why would support for the troops ever wane? When would the need for the message ever end?
The worst thing is that pretty soon the ubiquitous ribbons will begin disappearing, fading as do all fads, just as American flags bought after 9/11 soon became dirty, unreplaced tatters. Supporting the troops shouldn’t be a fad. It shouldn’t be a magnet.
“Support President Bush,” on the other hand, would be a good idea for something that can be easily removed.