Progressive Writers Bloc

Ribbon Confusion

Uncle Bill Warner

This morning, while out in the car, I noticed that there seems to be a new "Baby on Board"-type craze. The new fad is the magnetic stick-on ribbon of various types. The proliferation of this new phenomenon is interesting to observe. One of the stick- ons I saw was yellow, one was white, one was red-white and blue, and another was red. What is going on here?

Once upon a time, so the story goes, a prisoner was released from the penitentiary and was on his way home on the train. Supposedly, if the people welcomed him back, they would put white ribbons on a tree beside the track. If there were no ribbons, he should keep going. Luckily for him, the tree was covered with white ribbons.

In the 70's John Wayne starred in a movie in which a non-political message was conveyed by a yellow ribbon tied with a bow around an oak tree to welcome home a weary warrior. There was even a song about it.

During the Iranian Hostage crisis when the Iranian Revolutionaries were demanding the return of the deposed Shah who was being sheltered by the U.S., the yellow ribbon became the symbol for "release the hostages." The AFL-CIO got that started by printing up and distributing thousands of yellow ribbon buttons. Yellow ribbons have evolved from the loop around a tree to the ubiquitous single fold-over magnetic signs serving as talismans, personal statements, memorials, or calls to action.

I did a little research on the Internet and found out that the yellow ribbon today means "support our troops." Pretty simple, right? Unfortunately, that saying means different things to different people. To some, it means "We love our friends and family members with the military over in Iraq and hope they come home safely and soon." To others it means "Pray for our soldiers in Iraq," especially if the ribbon is in a horizontal mode (looking like a fish) signifying that your prayers should be directed to the Christian God, not the "fake god" of the Muslims. The most political interpretation follows an interesting line of thought: "Support our troops" means "Don't question the and obey George Bush." Yellow ribbons also stand for spina bifida awareness, international suicide prevention, childhood cancer awareness, and free Terry Martini.

To help eliminate some of the confusion over what a given ribbon means, small print is now being added on the ribbon...the result of which are more rear-end collisions as people drive up close so they can read it. One slogan on a ribbon I saw today was "Freedom is Not Free," which might mean "War is the price of freedom...war requires us to sacrifice our freedom such as the freedom to criticise the war... therefore, you must sacrifice your freedom to be free." I suppose it could also be a message to our grandchildren, who are going to have to pay for the war. Another was "God Bless America," which might mean we are asking God to take sides in this conflict. Well, it works in football games. Maybe each ribbon should be accompanied by an easy-to-read bumper sticker under it telling us what we are supposed to make of it? To add to the ribbon confusion, a dark blue ribbon means"Defend the Constitution." A white ribbon means peace, welcome home to an ex-con, or stop violence against women. A pink ribbon stands for breast cancer awareness or a few other things...

The red ribbon is the international symbol of HIV/AIDS awareness, staying drug and alcohol free, or multiple myeloma awareness. A purple ribbon can mean you are for stopping animal abuse, remembering 9-11, or promoting pancreatic cancer awareness. A green ribbon might mean you are an Irish Republican, being anti-scapegoating of Middle Eastern people in the U.S. or are for legalizing hemp production. Orange means you support Protestant Northern Ireland, are for honest and free elections, or are anti-terrorist.

Some ribbons are multi-colored. Black and red means, "No Blood for Oil," a rainbow ribbon stands for supporting diversity, blue and silver means "Stop Partial-birth Abortions," while blue and white means "Rescue American jobs," while red, white and blue means whatever you think America means.

If you have a cause and aren't sure if there is a ribbon for it, look surf up "Ribbon Campaigns" on the Net. If there can be one for" Scotsmen with Aids" (plaid) or "Keep Idiots off the Net" (chrome) there is probably one ready made for you!

Turning a magnetic ribbon upside down means that you are against whatever you think it stands for. (as does ripping it off) I suggest you don't get caught turning someone's "Stop Hating Leonardo DiCaprio" ribbon upside-down or trashing someone's purple "Remember 9-11" ribbon thinking it means "Support Gay Marriage." Better to just sit back and enjoy the confusion!

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