Support the troops

A few weeks ago a woman stopped me on the sidewalk in front of the News & Review offices and handed me one of those yellow “Support Our Troops” magnets. It was still in its package. “Check out where it’s made,” she suggested. Sure enough, right there on the plastic wrap, just below the words “MAGNETIC RIBBON” were the smaller words “Made in China.” We had a good laugh about it, and I thanked her for the magnet. But later I got to thinking: What message are we sending to our fellow commuters when we stick these things on our cars and trucks? (OK, I went online and found a site that offered American-made “Support Our Troops” magnets. But the site pointed out that “Support Our Troops” magnets—and their many variations—purchased at Wal-Mart are made in China. Surely, with Wal-Mart’s corner on the market of cheap merchandise sold in this country, the great majority of patriotic magnets we see are indeed manufactured in China.) Now then, if people in China are making magnets that say “Support Our Troops” and we are putting them on our cars, doesn’t that mean we are supporting the Chinese Red Army? Nothing wrong with that, though I suppose it makes the folks in Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong a bit uneasy. Supporting troops, no matter who or where they are, is a noble gesture because they are the men and women forced to deal with the trouble caused by their leaders’ really bad decisions.

It looks like Eric Hart is negotiating to purchase the El Rey Theater. A few years ago Hart purchased the Senator Theater from UA. At first we heard Eric’s brother Michael was looking to buy the El Rey. That could have worked out well for the town. I picture these guys getting into some sort of sibling rivalry over who can build the best downtown theater and we, the people of Chico, finding ourselves in the envious position of children whose wealthy divorced parents try to outdo each other at birthdays and holidays. We’d get two outlandishly appointed theaters. Instead we’re getting office space and a parking lot.

Some readers found it ironic that we would choose to start running cigarette ads in our health issue. I guess I did, too, when I learned of it. I don’t see the vast majority of ads that run in our paper before it goes to print. And sometimes I’m very surprised come Thursday. I wouldn’t have seen this one anyway because it was an insert, one of those annoying flyers that call attention to themselves by falling out of the papers when you pick them up off the rack. Pretty soon those flyers are dotting the landscape, blowing down sidewalks and collecting in gutters. This ad, by the way, not only advertises cigarettes, it also tells how to get a free carton! This would have been a big deal back when the socialists who started this paper were running it. Hell, it wasn’t that many years ago (four) that we held a vote to see if we should run an ad by a major tobacco company and risk angering our readers or not run it and lose out on money to help cover payroll. That ad, which didn’t actually show anyone smoking a cigarette—it was a sunset photo of a hut on a sandy beach or something like that—was approved, and we subsequently received a lot of angry letters (and a lot of money). This time around, we’ve received only one letter of protest—so far—shaming us and asking that we not publish the letter but at least consider how we had sold out. In our defense, I must point out that this ad wasn’t from one of the big Carolina or Virginia tobacco companies; it was from American Spirit, which is based in Santa Fe, N.M., and boasts that it’s cigarettes are “additive free.” Completely natural, the ad says. Hell, they’re good for you! For all I know, you’re allowed to smoke these cigarettes while on the treadmill at your local health club. Gotta pay the bills somehow.