Sep 25 2005

UK Doesn’t Support Our Troops


My fellow Americans, it has just come to my attention that in the UK hardly anybody is tooling around with a "Support Our Troops" ribbon on their car.  The contingency seems almost too exotic to contemplate. The mind reels.

What are those Brits doing, not Supporting Our Troops? Why do they hate America?

Is it possible that they have perceived what appears to have eluded American consumers of prepackaged sentimentality: that the phrase "support our troops" is actually defined by the OED as "an empty gesture; to affix a meaningless 79-cent magnet to the exterior of an American car; of or relating to a race of bigoted white American buttmunches"?

Perhaps our magnet-eschewing British brethren know what bigoted white American buttmunches don’t: that nobody in the history of jingoistic sloganeering has ever read a magnet and said to herself, "You know, I’ve never supported our troops before, but this magnet really speaks to me! I do Support Our Troops, by gum!"

It seems extraordinary to those of us who have lived among the magnet-people since the American invasion of Afghanistan, but the cheap yellow made-in-China ribbon shape has not entered the British national lexicon as a sort of automotive hieroglyph symbolizing one’s love for President Jesubush and for killing and for being white, and one’s hatred of chicks and fags and science, and one’s pious hope that Jesus will kill everybody soon.

Here’s what I want to know: without ribbon magnets, how does the country know who its stupidest citizens are?

Also, how do racist godbag nutjobs identify each other in the parking lot of Home Depot?

White Dude #1: [eyes White Dude #2’s Buick LeSabre appreciatively] "You ‘support our troops’?"

White Dude #2: "You bet I do!"

White Dude #1: "Wanna check out the half-dead homo Jew I’ve got in my trunk?"

You, my fellow Americans, have come to take the magnets for granted. You may even think you don’t notice them anymore, but really you do. Each day, as you take to the highways and byways with a smile on your lips and song in your heart, they subliminally undermine your unpatriotically chipper outlook with their promise of ignorance and medieval Jesosity. I invite you to picture driving to the Central Market without having to subconsciously absorb the fuck-you message of 70 or 80 of these idiot things. There you’d be a stoplight, your hide unchapped that some moron has positioned his ribbon so that the trunk lock sticks out of the center of the loop. You’d feel light as a feather. And that’ s just not right.


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  1. nina

    Oh, Twisty, after hitting me with the one-two punch of President Jesubush and medieval Jesosity, I can barely breathe!

  2. Ron Sullivan

    Got one of those from a friend at a party last night. Unfortunately it’s not a magnet, so putting it on the car would be something of a commitment. It’s colored like the one in your pic, but the text is “Support Halliburton.”

  3. BlondebutBright

    Are those things still around? Every time I see one I want to stop the driver of the offending car and get into a philosophical discussion about what they actually mean by “support.” My bet is that very few would have anything intelligent to say.

  4. MaggieMay

    Brilliant. You have such a gift… of making me laugh so hard my sides hurt.

  5. jim in austin

    Typical joiner display behavior: fraternities and sororities, flag lapel pins, club ties, yellow wrist bands, designer labels, name brands, SUVs, school colors, etc. Pure herd instinct. Safety in numbers. No need to think.

    I might consider a funerial black one emblazened with “Bring Them Home Alive”…

  6. philosopherchik

    Twisty, again you manage to make me laugh even on the dreariest of days.

    What annoys me even more about the ribbon-magnets not-so-subtly upbraiding me for failing to be “supportive” or “patriotic” enough, is when they are placed sideways on said Buick Le Sabres so as to resemble Jesus fish.

  7. dr. b.

    I really want one of them there magnets! It might get my car keyed here in corn town, but I’d take the chance!!

  8. Kyra

    I found one that says “Am I patriotic yet?”

    Unfortunately, since my car (when I have one) belongs to my (moderate-to-conservative) parents, it, along with “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people,” “If you can read this, you’re not the president,” and “Instead of being born again, why not just grow up?” is banished to a drawer in my dorm room for the time being. Pity.

  9. Denise

    Twisty, I do believe your obsterporal lobe has recovered. It’s good to see you back in action!

    Here’s what I want to know: without ribbon magnets, how does the country know who its stupidest citizens are?
    I feel much the same way about the Jesus-fish.

  10. antelope

    A cashier at Home Despot offered me a ‘Support Our Troops’ magnet for free w/ my purchase, and when I said “no, thanks” as politely as possible, she pursed her lips and said, “That’s too bad”, fixing me with a glare. The free distribution of these things is even BETTER than merely putting them on your car, because it gives you the opportunity to IDENTIFY evil-doers such as myself & be directly sanctimonious towards them, instead of just hoping they get the message.

    I considered writing a letter to the editor suggesting that Home Despot could lose customers that way, but that would give even MORE godbags a chance to get all sanctimonious on my ass. I would rather force them to swallow it – when they have no outlet for their need to look down on sinners, their eyes develop this bulge-y look that makes them easy to identify and stay away from.

  11. judy

    i’d like to know how to pronounce jesubush?
    is it like the ‘j’ in jose?
    twisty, you rock!

  12. Twisty

    If anyone wants to design their own ribbon magnet, click on the photo to go to the custom ribbon-mocking shop. They cost 7 bucks, though.

    The Twisty pronounciation of “jesubush” is “JEE’za-bush,” but “HAY’zoo-bush” adds an element of the exotic, no?

  13. Chris Clarke

    I tried to make one that says “I Support The Troops, But Not Enough To Stick Something Permanent Here” but it was too many characters.

    I did see one car with its ribbon stuck next to the gasoline hole. I thought that rather appropriate. They Fight So That You May Fill.

  14. Erin

    Hey, now! I drive a Buick LeSabre! I admit that I have, in the past, referred to it as my “male, white, corporate oppressor car”, but no one’s allowed to pick on my establishment fat-cat vehicle but me! I like to think of it as vehicular drag – if I do something rash or stupid in my car, no one thinks it’s because I’m a woman; they think it’s because I’m an 85 year old guy.

  15. manxome

    I recently saw one like this. It touchingly encompasses all that is pseudo-American!

  16. Erin

    “This Limited edition Pray for Our Troops Magnet comes with a bonus mini Cross Magnet that says One Nation Under God. Leave as one piece or seperate them![sic, sic, sic, ad nauseam]”

    Oooh, that is a nice one: sanctimony AND poor spelling AND Emily Dickinson-esque capitalization! You really can’t go wrong with that combination.

  17. norbizness

    I’ve got a maroon magnet on my fridge that says “Support Matador Records,” which is strange, because I hate Matador Records and all the lo-fi douchebags in their artists’ lineup. Oh yeah, it was that record clerk jerkwad what gave it to me after I expressed a desire to decorate Stephen Malkmus with pit bulls. Stupid half-dead homo Jew (drives off in LeSabre).

  18. ae

    Oww! I made the error of taking a sip of my tea just as my eyes lit on Twisty’s magnet! Dang. Burned my tongue trying to avoid a spit-take. Swallowing seemed impossible at the time. Ha!

    I come from the great state of NC, referred to locally as “America’s Most Military-Friendly State,” where it is the rare car that dares not display some sort of sticker or magnet supporting our oops. It is a visual assault, and I have chronic neck pain from twisting in my seat to get a get a good, long look at what a real Republican looks like. Do they have horns? Are they pod people? Can I tell their kind from mine? Simply put, yes.

    ‘Round these parts, even the cars themselves typify the driver’s allegiances. Oops Supporters typically drive SUVs/minivans/trucks, where they place their magnet next to a Baby Jeebus Xian Academy sticker. The rest of us are in compact cars, sedans and Subarus, supporting NPR, peace, and the Dave Matthews Band. I don’t know about the earth, but the meek haven’t inherited the highways.

    For the record, I read ‘Jesubush’ as Hay-zoo-bush.

  19. StealthBadger

    I went to observe, document, and growl quietly at the “support our troops” Free Republic rally today.

    I just sat here, staring at the screen for a while, trying to find something to say that didn’t start with “these delusional freaks” and go rapidly downhill from there. And these are the people who have had the magnets on their cars so long that they’ve turned eggshell white.

    *thinks about it*

    A gold star mother said “the mission of our fallen calls out with blood from foreign fields.” I have no idea what the hell that means, but I’m pretty sure it’s nothing like “support our troops,” and much more like “come home with your shield, or on it.”

    Grr. Now I’d like to say something clever about not wanting to be a tool that is defined by “doing to,” and make some witty comment about “people who prove their faith by proverbially running with their eyes closed” and “large trees” and “ouch,” and then rant for a while about people who have freakishly Pavlovian responses to the sight of Marine One flying overhead (that was chilling), but they’re just stupid little word games, and even the above just feels like a stupid attempt to get a guffaw out of y’all.

    Today I heard a man state that they had lost a loved one in Iraq, and that the the wisest, most compassionate, and greatest man in the country was President George W. Bush… almost in the same breath. I heard a woman say that she had lost her son, and that she wanted to thank Bush for being a strong, courageous leader who is worthy of her son’s loyalty. I heard a Senator (Sessions) passionately refer to the jingoistic, xenophobic, dyed-in-the-wool-patriarchal freak show of a movie Independence Day in his speech to to the crowd about duty, patriotism, and for all intents and purposes the glory of battle, and they ate it up.

    The only things I can think of to say start with “psychopathic, delusional freaks” and go downhill from there. G’night, y’all. I can’t stare at this little box any longer, and language is about as useful at expressing this as a marshmallow is for turning screws.

  20. jc.

    Shouldn´t the proper text for these ribbons be “Í´m behind our troops! Waaaaaay behind.”
    It took 14 years after Vietnam for me to visit my homeland, now I guess it´ll take a whole bunch more for my next visit. I´m afraid that the sight and sound of so much evil, smug and destructive ignorance will cause me to react in such a manner that my stay will extended to Guantanamo. Please Jesus can`t the “rapture” occur today so the rest of us can live in a less dangerous and hate filled world?

  21. Emma

    Also, how do racist godbag nutjobs identify each other in the parking lot of Home Depot?

    I think that in Britain, fundamentalist is significant different from American fundamentalism.

    There were huge amounts of people carrying church banners on the “stop the war” marches, and religious leaders in the UK (including Christian ones) came together to make a statement to the effect that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with religion or religions and to express their reservations about the whole thing.

    Fundamentalists in the UK tend to be middle-class, particularly in England. The church therefore reflects those values. Because of its imperialist history, the English middle class tends to exhibit a fairly muted patriotism, and “support our troops” jingoism would be quite bad form unless your church had a large membership from one of the armed services.

    The perennial fish sticker is the only way of recognising nutjob godbags, but they’re also not likely to be any more racist than the rest of the middle class population. The Evangelical Alliance, umbrella body of fundamentalist Christianity in the UK, has spoken out in support of asylum seekers and other immigrants (against a prevailing mood that we should become more of a fortress Britain), and has also protested in support of freedom of speech and the right for others to criticise religion.

    That isn’t to say that they don’t have a whole host of objectionable (to me) positions on a range of other issues, but there are some differences between them and their American kin.

  22. Josef K

    Actually, Twisty, when the war first started, there were a lot of people in the UK with bumper stickers and T-shirts that said: “Support our troops… Bring them home.” I haven’t seen one for ages, though. This is presumably because the Iraq war is totally over and all the people are liberated now.

  23. Emma

    On another note: this is my favourite piece of patriotic Americana ever.

  24. Twisty

    Great Scott, Emma, are you saying that Christians in the UK worship a nice Jesus? One who is not a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American Republican party? One whose “love your enemies” speech has not been redacted in all the literature?


    Meanwhile, those patriotic prom girls were invented right here in Texas. When they’re not at gala balls, they’re shakin’ their virgin moneymakers at men’s football games. I allude, of course, to the world-famous Kilgore Rangerettes.

  25. Steph

    Those stickers/magnents are evil. I had to endure having one on my rental car in San Francisco this summer. I wanted to scrape it off, but decided I couldn’t afford the damaged car fees.

    Thanks Avis for making me drive around your politics.

    I see one of those ribbons in Toronto almost every day–that scares me more because we’re not in Iraq.

  26. Sara

    This is the best mockery of this whole ribbon trend I’ve seen yet:


    Sadly, the artist still hasn’t actually made them available, but still, it’s a great concept and I look forward to seeing it displayed on car butts everywhere (including ours).

  27. yankee transplant

    Twisty, you never cease to amaze and delight me.
    I love this post!

  28. peacebug

    wonder how many who sport those stoopid magnets know they’re made in china?

    which means they support sending jobs outside our fair country. go china! go india! go third world country that will beat us at the economic game while we sit self-satisfied behind the wheel of our SUVs.

    something so bent about magnets made in asia as a show of support for troops in the middle east. how mindless is that?

  29. jenna

    I live in Seattle, a very Democratic-voting city, so I don’t see many of them around. But the second I drive outside the city limits, into the suburbs and rural areas, I see tons. I wonder why that could be.

  30. Brooke

    Well, the real T.V.-preacher pronunciation of “Jesus” is well known to be “Uh-JAY-e-ze-us-suh” (six syllables), so “Jesubush” must be said as, “Uh-JAY-e-ze-bu-shuh.”

  31. BritGirlSF

    In addition to what Emma said, may I point out that Brits are in general very uncomfortable with the flag as a symbol. The only people who habitually wave flags around in the UK are the National Front, who are kind of like our KKK except they have an actual political party. The Union Jack is pretty much code for “racist, zenophobic asshole”. Most people don’t want to be associated with anything bearing the flag out of a desire not to be associated with the assholes.
    Another factor is that we’re in general just not ra-ra kind of people. Obvious displays of any kind of emotions tend to embarrass us. I remember once working for a company that wanted to do a cheer at meetings. One of my co-workers caught the look of abject horror on my face at the suggestion and said “um, she’s British, they just don’t do that kind of thing”. Smart guy.

  32. Ledasmom

    I think I want a yellow ribbon magnet that says “Support This Loop”, except I’m too lazy to order one. I wonder how many of those magnets you could stack up, one right on top of the other, before weight conquered magnetism and they all fell off? Would it be wrong to find an accumulation of particularly knee-jerk cars and test this out? And would the drivers notice if you replaced their little wisps of patriotism with similar-looking wisps that had more interesting text?

  33. Jonny

    Also, how do racist godbag nutjobs identify each other in the parking lot of Home Depot?

    -Look for a copy of the ‘Daily Mail’

  34. Mush Mook

    Brilliant post, brilliant!

    Have some of your magnets made up and I’ll proudly sport one on my gas-guzzling 6-cylinder 4WD all over rural Iowa.

    For REAL. ;-)

  35. rm

    At the beginning of the trend, before it became too overwhelming, I was systematically stealing these magnets (which are predominantly on SUVs), altering them with acrylic paint to say “More Blood for Oil” (or occasionally “Support Our Jihad”, or whatever) and replacing them. I’m not sure if anyone noticed. I like the “empty sentiment” magnet though. It’s concise.

  1. friedAppleBlurbs


    Twisty Faster over at I Blame the Patriarchy has a hilarious (yet insightful) post on those ubiquitous yet meaningless Support Our Troops ribbons on everyones cars these days. The Little Red-Haired Girl and I nearly peed on the gi…

  2. Stay Free! Daily

    Can’t Get Enough Ribbon Parodies

    In the spirit of Empty Sentiment and Support Our Pants, Twisty Faster of I Blame the Patriarchy has my favorite parody ribbon yet. Interested in designing your own ribbon? Do what Twisty did and go to Support Our Ribbons. (Thanks, Sara)

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