Supporting the Troops

I finally figured out what it is that turns me off about those yellow magnetic decals people put on their cars that say "I Support The Troops." Actually, there are a number of reasons I dislike these things:

1) How, exactly, do most of these decal-bearers support the troops? I'm sure that a small minority send care packages to soldiers, write letters to their elected representatives to help secure needed equipment for the troops, maybe give to the USO, etc. But I think it's safe to say that, for the majority of decal-bearers, the extent of their support is limited to spending $2 at a 7-Eleven for the decal and keeping the troops in their thoughts. I'm not saying that's completely worthless, but if one cared more about the troops than about informing the people cruising the nation's highways that one does indeed support them, perhaps the $2 would be better spent on a charity or on something other than token support.

2) "I Support The Troops" is little more than an answer to a question that nobody has asked. Who could object to supporting the troops? Nobody. It's completely politically correct. But let's face it, people don't want to know your stance on whether or not you support the troops. If they're interested in your opinion at all, they want to know whether you support the war or not. And regardless of your stance on the war, everyone can get behind supporting the troops.

It's like somebody asking you whether you're pro-choice or anti-abortion and you respond, "I love babies." Well, sure. Everybody loves babies. But that doesn't answer the question and it doesn't require defending a tough position or even committing to one side of the debate or the other. And it's only tangentially related to the real issue at hand.

3) They're not even permanent, for Chrissakes. Putting a bumper sticker on your car at least conveys some sense of permanence. (Sure, you can get bumper stickers off with a razor blade and some "Goo Gone," but it's a pain in the ass.) But a MAGNETIC DECAL? It's almost like those decals say, "I support the troops, but not enough to potentially risk my car's paint job."

4) Herd mentality. See #2. Displaying "I Support The Troops" on a decal is morally equivalent to a sticker that says "I Love Cocoa Puffs." It doesn't require you to think, it doesn't require you to take an unpopular position and hey - everyone else is doing it. Geez, have some stones and at least put your opinion on the war out there. Otherwise, keep the lame attempts at taking a political position to yourself. Nobody likes an unthinking herd.