Support stickers seem scarce

Richard Ek is a retired Chico State University journalism professor and frequent contributor to the News & Review.

A while back the Chico Enterprise-Record published a thoughtful, common sense letter by Myra Lerch. It suggested that those who support the troops go beyond slapping magnetic ribbons on cars with a tangible effort like sending packages to Iraq or bringing troops home for a family visit via Hero Miles.

After pondering Lerch’s letter for some time, I decided to make a survey of several hundred vehicles at the 20th Street Mall in Chico to see how many carried ribbons. I soon noticed that about 90-plus percent of the vehicles carried no sticker or adornment of any kind on their bumpers, trunks, or rear windows. Only seven vehicles, including trucks and motorcycles, carried support-the-troops ribbons. Most of these were of the large flag variety; one said, “Some asshole stole my magnet support ribbon.” Another with a flag said: “We will not tire, we will not falter, we will not fail.” Others were the small yellow-ribbon type.

The support ribbons were countered by anti-war ribbons with messages such as: “Cindy Sheehan, an army of one,” “Make love, not war,” “UN in, US out,” or “Fixing intelligence for war is treason – impeach Bush!” Follow-up phoning to six retail stores found only one selling magnet ribbons.

What did the above mean? Well, my survey was not a reliable random sample, meaning such a survey on any other day would not produce the same proportion of supportive and non-supportive messages on display. The lack of retail availability could mean the store was temporarily out of stock, or that magnet ribbons didn’t sell well and had been dropped. Also, one auto parts store said the ribbons faded in the sun.

But no, I think what’s going on here is that people in far greater numbers than the polls show simply no longer support this wrong and ugly war that has killed more than 2,300 of our troops and wounded 17,000 more, many of whom will require years of expensive rehabilitation because roadside bombs blew of arms, legs, hands or feet. The cost of the war on terror—$300 billion, not counting the newest $73 billion appropriation— is a financial hemorrhage.

H.L. Mencken, the shrewd 20th-century social critic, coined the term “booboisie” (boob-wah-zee) to describe the generally uninformed American public. But, hey, where the disastrous Iraq and Afghanistan wars are concerned, give the people credit for smartening up. Mencken also said, “The dull man is always sure,” words that perfectly fit our intellectually challenged president with his unalterable stance. Mencken’s statement, along with “Impeach Bush,” would likely make a hot-selling ribbon.