Monday, April 04, 2005

On the Road Again: Torn to Ribbons

So about a month ago, one of my co-workers came in late, with the following reason: The FBI had blocked off a street near his house. A quick google search pulled up that the FBI/BTF had raided the home of a local property manager, who in addition to belonging to a radical branch of the Aryan Nation had a large collection of illegally purchased firearms. I mean huge. We’re talking enough rifles to kit out a couple squads of marines in Mosul. Oh yeah, he lived across from a school.

But he’s not what I want to talk about.

Both local newspapers covered the raid the next day, and both used near-identical photos of an agent carrying all these guns out past a car in his driveway, presumably his. The photos were snapped either by the same photographer seconds apart, or by two photographers standing next to each other. One photo showed the agent carrying big a armload of guns past the guy’s car. The other showed the same thing a half-step further on, and showed what his body was blocking in the first image.

One of those cheap “Support the Troops” yellow ribbons. The magnet types, which show your support for our armed forces through purchase of stuff made in mainland China.

The Yellow Ribbon Magnet has become ubiquious these early years of the new milennium, occupying an odd space between “Have a Nice Day” and “American, Love it or Leave it” in the political spectrum. There is an entire taxonomy of these magnetic ribbons – variants on the theme (instead of “Support Our Troops” they read “Pray for our Troops” or “Bring Them Home Safe”), other colors (Flag-styles, or for the more militant, desert chamo), and even completely new messages (Pink ribbons for women’s issues, and a Blue and White version with paw-prints instead of stars. stating the importance of spaying you pet). However, there are three that deserve mention:

The Personalized Ribbon – These carry names on them. I assume they are loved ones serving in the military, and therefore show a tad bit more involvement in the issue than someone who just slaps one on. I like these a lot.

The Pale Ribbon – OK, the manufacturers didn’t figure we’d be two years on and still in-country, so they didn’t use the high-quality lacquer finish (Yeah, imagine the managerial meeting in Canton where they made THAT decision). So a lot of the Ribbons have weathered to a ghostly shade of wheat beer. All I can say is that they are marginally better than the shredded American Flags people were flying for a while.

The Ghost Ribbon – You see these on unwashed SUVs, the shadow of a ribbon that has been removed. Were the ribbons stolen, like a Garfield suction-cup doll? Did the owners tire of supporting the troops, perhaps having some middle-of-the-night epiphany and running out in their PJs to remove them? Did they just fall off, the magnetism about as strong as the lacquer? One thing I can state – they did not come off at the car wash.

Had I the power, I would ban all such ribbons except the personalized ones – they’re the equivalent of the blue star hanging in the window in WWII. You would put one of these on your vehicle if you had a spouse or child in the service. That way, when the rest of us get cut off in traffic by an SUV with one of these posted, we’re more likely to forgive the driver.

In the meantime, It’s been two years. Support the Troops, regardless of who’s driving.

More later,