Do you agree with Thomas Naughton? :nine: No yellow ribbons here By Thomas Naughton, Collegian columnist http://www.dailycollegian.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/02/23/421beb6d96af4 February 23, 2005 Guilt can only weigh on a person's mind for so long before they crave the act of purgation; to get the weighty feelings of shame and responsibility out of the mind - or at least the guilty parties attempt to find some kind of peace if they cannot rid themselves of a screaming conscience that implicates and indicts its possessor. That said, perhaps some readers will understand why my friends and I rip yellow ribbon "support the troops" magnets off of cars or wherever people have affixed them. By ripping off these ribbons, we find a way to deal with our guilt, as though with each ribbon swiped we take back a life that was taken by this senseless war started by our senseless president and those who support him. I will never say, "support the troops." I don't believe in the validity of that statement. People say, "I don't support the war, I support the troops" as though you can actually separate the two. You cannot; the troops are a part of the war, they have become the war and there is no valid dissection of the two. Other people shout with glaring eyes that we should give up our politics, give up our political affiliations in favor of "just supporting the troops." I wish everything were that easy. What they really mean is that we should just give up our will, give up our identities, give up our voices to those in power. Perhaps that's just the way people aligned with the right wing choose to get rid of their guilt: blindness and ignorance. I listen to talk radio very often. It's important to know who your enemies are. The pundits on the radio are the pinnacles of guiltless, shameless wonders, and I am jealous. It must feel good to believe without question, to benefit from the blind belief of young men and women who chose to join the armed forces, to sit in a radio studio in New York and admonish the public to give in like the troops, to just follow orders, to live as just a number that will soon be etched into a gravestone that no one will ever see. I look into the cars of people with "support the troops" ribbons as I speed past, trying to find some trace of recognition on their face, recognition of their guilt and the fact that they have given up. I usually see nothing; just a mouth moving robotically, singing the pop hits of today or the contemporary country wine of fake cowboys who share a lot with George Bush: no shame. We say, "support the troops" so that we won't feel guilty about saying "no" to war. We reason that if we say that we support the troops, somehow we aren't monsters for not saying a word when the death tolls of U.S. soldiers climbed above 1,000. Those ribbons are yellow for a reason, they are not the mark of armed forces support, they are the mark of cowards. Pundits on the radio advise their cowardly listeners to approach men and women in army uniforms and say "thank you." I cannot do that. Every time I pass a person in uniform I look long and hard at them and all I can think inside to say is "I'm so sorry." I want to apologize to them, to their families and to their friends. I feel sorry that we, the people, couldn't control our own government at the outset of this conflict when most of us knew deep inside that it was a mistake. Where are we now? Are we in a better place? Is the world safer for democracy? No, it is not safer and we are not in a better place. In this war that we are fighting to somehow avenge the deaths of the Sept. 11 tragedy, we have amassed a field of body bags, the number of which almost matches the number killed in the terrorist attacks four years ago. Now, we stare at yet another request for barrels of money for this war by President Bush, while people in our own country search fruitlessly for jobs to feed their starving families, while every public school gets left behind, while our elderly are ensured an uncertain future of unpaid medical bills. I guess we shouldn't think about those things though, right? We should just buy a yellow magnet and slap it on the butt of our car so we can sleep at night and just let our government do whatever they want. That's supporting the troops, right? Two years ago my friend Eric called me out of the blue after almost five years of silence between us. We were in a band together when we were teenagers and he had joined the army around the time I was graduating from high school. He had to join the army; he had a son to provide for in the grand tradition of many young members of the armed forces. He called me to tell me that he was going back to Iraq, against his will. He was so sad and angry and scared. He didn't say it, but I know he was calling to tell me that he might die. I didn't say it to him then, but I felt such overwhelming guilt that I couldn't do anything to keep him from going back. I haven't heard from him since. I don't know if he's dead, and my guilt is alive and well. I hope that all of our family members in harm's way return alive. Until then, I can really honor their sacrifice by demanding that it finally comes to an end.