Why is this song playing over and over in my mind today? Because, the College Republicans on my small campus tied yellow ribbons on trees, drew yellow ribbons on the sidewalks, and then asked me if I wanted to wear a yellow ribbon to support our troops in Iraq while I walked through the college union building.
One chalked statement read: "9/11/2001. Lest We Forget." Other statements played on our guilt, reminding us of the ultimate sacrifice that our military has made to protect us.
This newest campaign by the College Republicans is strategically brilliant, yet morally bankrupt.
The rhetoric of the campaign is: if you don't wear this yellow ribbon, then you are against our brave soldiers who are sacrificing themselves for you.
We call this rhetorical style a "complex question," which is a fallacy of composition. The most common example of a complex question is "when, sir, did you stop beating your wife?"
The framing of the very question traps the respondent into a no-win situation.
I condemn the College Republicans for engaging in such obviously polarizing behavior.
They refuse reasonable and principled moral outrage at the Iraq war: over 2000 American soldiers have died, while the number of Iraqi civilians is exponentially higher; there is little hope for any timely or peaceful resolution to this war; we are spending billions of our future grandchildren's income on this war; we are giving no-bid contracts to companies such as Halliburton to "rebuild Iraq," . . . There are so many manifest reasons why this war is immoral.
Disapproving of a war is not equivalent to disapproving of soldiers.
I also reject this deployment of the "yellow ribbon" symbol to rally support around an immoral war, to demonize those who don't support it, and divide the country.
None of these students was alive during the Carter era, when the yellow ribbon represented hope for freeing the hostages in Iran. They have perverted this symbol, and used it to advance an unjust war.
I thought it might be helpful to remember the folk roots of the yellow ribbon tradition, so I visited the American Folklife Center, which is a branch of the Library of Congress. It might be helpful for these students to spend a few minutes reading this account:
So, what is the lesson drawn here? The yellow ribbon was a symbol that originally embodied the compassionate, forgiving Christian attitude toward the prodigal son; it was a sign that a family or a society could give to an ex-convict looking for acceptance, love and redemption.
Then, the yellow ribbon became a symbol of a nurturing, supportive, and united Country. What do these Republicans use this symbol for: dividing, hate and intolerance.
You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Before I finish this rant, it might be a good idea to remind you that Iraq did NOT send planes into the Pentagon, Somerset county, or the World Trade Center.