As I sat in Holiday shopping traffic this week behind many an automobile, something hit me like a blow to the head: The United States has gone ribbon crazy.
America has developed an unhealthy obsession with paying homage to various causes through the wearing of or display of ribbons. It started innocently enough in the 1980s when the AIDS epidemic was rampant. Celebrities wore little yellow ribbons at awards ceremonies and other events, just to let all of us regular people know that in spite of their explosive egos and ignorance for all other things outside their Hollywood bubble, famous people had the appearance of caring for something other than themselves. Crackpot gossip reporters loved bringing up the fact a celebrity was wearing a ribbon, as if we were to hold that person in a higher light than say, the actual people who were dying from AIDS.
In the 1990s the ribbon crusades started to cross into other diseases, producing different color ribbons for each one. It wasn’t just diseases either. There were ribbons for seemingly everything, from malnourished pets to bulimic super models, from domestic violence victims to reformed smokers. And now in this decade, all of those ribbons have been summarily dismissed to make room for the mother of all ribbons, the “Support Our Troops” ribbon. Except now it’s a ribbon-shaped bumper sticker, and the once small but genuine symbol of compassion has turned into an ideology stuck to every compact, midsize, and gas guzzling SUV on the road. And as with most ideologies, they do nothing but corrupt the fabric of society.
At the risk of seeming like an insensitive ogre, there hasn’t been a term as overused since “Where’s the Beef?” It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, or more appropriately, a long, drawn out military campaign, to know that whether we’re at war, or during peacetime, supporting troops is something that really doesn’t need to be commented on. It’s too obvious for intelligent people to worry themselves with. Of course we support our troops. One should, no matter what their opinion of the war is. I personally think it’s a major clusterfuck of epic proportions, but that’s not to say I boo soldiers when they are shown on television, as if I were a sports fan watching a game. Yet that’s the attitude people seem to be adopting, whether they realize it or not. People love nothing more than to grab onto a concept as natural and obvious as supporting someone in harm’s way, and exploiting it for everything its worth. Do people honestly think that the money being made from these types of things are going anywhere near helping troops? It is nothing more than politically correct war profiteering. We all remember that after September 11th, you couldn’t turn around without having an American flag being shoved in your face. If the movement had sustained, it could have been considered patriotic. But soon after, the number of visible flags dropped drastically. It then ceased to be patriotic and turned into phony one-trick pony. American’s love for their country is a second nature instinct. People should not feel the need to exude a patriotic personality that drips with testosterone for a limited period of time, and then tuck it away when the cheerleading becomes tiresome. And for the rest of those who don’t love their country, they should leave and go somewhere else.
The Citizens of the United States should stick with having “My son or daughter just made the honor roll at where ever Elementary” slapped on the back of their car. It may not be what’s “in” right now, but at least it’s honest. Perhaps that slogan should inspire a more honest ribbon sticker that sums up the feelings of someone with an actual friend or child who’s at war, like “My son or daughter is currently getting their head shot at in Iraq, and I think it really sucks.”
By: Seamus Condron