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Issue of the Week: What about those yellow ribbons?

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Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday April 30, 2003

Students walking to and from class have probably noticed the presence of yellow ribbons tied to various places on campus.

Put up by the UA College Republicans, the hundreds of yellow ribbons symbolize support for U.S. troops and their families. Unexpectedly, after the ribbons were hung, many were taken down by the following morning. Every time UACR replaced the ribbons, they returned to campus and found them taken down once more. It happened first on April 16. Then again on April 21. And April 24 was the most recent. It is not clear who has been taking down the ribbons on the different occasions, although it may have been Facilities Management employees cleaning up the campus and/or anti-war protesters. Black ribbons have also appeared, apparently to counter the yellow ribbons, symbolizing solidarity to the peace movement and in honor of all casualties both Iraqi civilian and coalition troops.

But, last Thursday night, determined UACR members and other Tucsonans set up 24-hour patrol shifts and Web cams to prevent and catch new ribbon-tearer-downers. Two women were recorded taking down ribbons early Friday morning by the Nugent and old Chemistry buildings.

Should the yellow ribbons remain up? What do you think about the presence of yellow ribbons around campus?


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Phil Leckman

Yellow ribbons are tacky and badly timed, but opposing them is a misguided action

Many Americans including, until yesterday, this author assume that the tradition of tying a yellow ribbon in remembrance of loved ones far away is an old one. It's not, according to research conducted by the American Folklife Center: The present form of the tradition may date no earlier than 1979, when yellow ribbons were hung in support of American hostages in Iran. Regardless of the tradition's age, the timing of this particular burst of ribbon-hanging seems a bit off why did the College Republicans wait until last week, when the conflict in Iraq was effectively over, to put the ribbons up?

Even if they're a bit tacky and after the fact, the plastic ribbons now decorating trees across campus are relatively innocuous. While their connection with groups like College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom may offend some, the yellow ribbons broadcast no political message other than support for Americans abroad. The campus groundskeepers who took down the first batch were just doing their jobs and should be excused for mistaking the garish plastic garlands for campus clutter.

Removing the ribbons for "political" reasons, however, seems tasteless and somewhat mean-spirited. It's also foolish as the radical right wing works overtime to paint those who oppose George Bush's wars as traitorous and anti-American, peace activists who destroy something as benign as a yellow ribbon are playing right into arch-conservative hands.

Phil Leckman is an anthropology graduate student. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Bill Wetzel

Display your patriotism, show us your rack

You can say one thing about the College Republicans. That Web cam trick was a stroke of sheer Poindextrian genius.

One bit of advice that would help for the next time unidentified college females come along to rip down your yellow ribbons: It's a well-known fact many of our finest young ladies become enthralled by the camera's magic. If you want to catch those girls in the act and expose them, have somebody standing nearby ready to yell one simple phrase that works every time. That phrase?

"Show us your rack!"

It wouldn't hurt to have a cold pack of beer nearby, either.

On another note, I'm wary of yellow ribbons anyway. Back in my bull-riding days, in which I saw more bloody combat than Dubya did back in his Texas Air Guard "war" days, the color yellow was deemed cowardly and considered unlucky. The country might want to figure out a different way to honor our troops than yellow ribbons.

Obviously, I'm not taking this issue seriously, because who really gives a shit? If Republicans were pro-troops in the first place, they wouldn't have cut veterans' benefits by 15 billion, including $844 million from health care. Do something that matters.

Ribbons are cheap when your party agenda is hollow.

Bill Wetzel is a creative writing and political science junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Caitlin Hall

Poor judgment continues

Wildcats beware: The plague of petty bickering previously confined to city hall and "A" Mountain has spontaneously spread to campus.

The yellow ribbons were a dumb idea in the first place you would think that someone in the College Republicans would have questioned the effectiveness of a display constructed so poorly that it was mistaken for trash by Facilities Management. After all, what kind of signal does that symbol send? "Support our troops with a disposable, tacky spectacle"? It reminds me of a sign I saw the other day: "Put an American flag bumper sticker on your SUV. It's literally the least you can do."

That initial poor judgment, however, is nothing compared to that which the College Republicans have shown in the past few days. Whatever shred of dignity was present in the original display has been destroyed by an increasingly ridiculous procession of press alerts, crepe paper and video cameras.

While UACR leaders posture for the media, the point is lost on the UA population. If they're truly concerned about getting their message out presumably one of respect for our troops they should abandon their childish, melodramatic showboating.

Caitlin Hall is a biochemistry and philosophy sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Steve Campbell

Yellow ribbons not affiliated with one party

I applaud Pete Seat and the rest of the College Republicans for showing us a responsible way for any group to support our troops, regardless of whether they support the war.

I feel sorry for those who are putting up black ribbons or tearing down the yellow ones, claiming the College Republicans' actions are politically motivated.

I was not aware that Republicans were the only ones that supported our troops. Just because their group supports Republican issues does not preclude them from supporting a cause that almost everybody in this country claims that they support.

Tying yellow ribbons is a way of saying, "You're not forgotten. Come back home soon." Surely, both sides of the war issue can agree with these words.

In 1979, yellow ribbons were hung to support hostages in Iran. I doubt anybody would claim it was done to support Jimmy Carter's foreign policy (or lack of one). It was done by Democrats, Republicans and all party affiliations. It was done by Americans, awaiting the return of fellow Americans.

Very few of our troops who are digging trenches and following orders are pushing a political agenda. Don't worry: To show your support for them won't make you a College Republican.

Steve Campbell is a senior majoring in Spanish. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Jessica Lee

College Republicans' yellow ribbons are no more effective than UA Peace Refuge tactics

It's nice to see the College Republicans creep out of wherever they have been hiding during the war. Now that President Bush officially may end the Iraqi conflict tomorrow, it's great that they support the troops now instead of, err, before when we could have prevented them from being sent in the first place.

UACR President Peat Seat and his posse warrant the same criticism that I have for the UA Peace Refuge. While it is great to mobilize and demonstrate, their tactics unfortunately do not accomplish a greater goal. Whether it be the 24-hour Infoshop or the 24-hour surveillance of yellow ribbons, one thing is obvious: It is a huge waste of time. Convincing students to oppose the war or to support the troops is not brought about by who has more ribbons hanging by the next morning or who catches who sleeping in the library.

UAPR and UACR need to apply their time, passions and creative energy toward meaningful activities. Collect toys for Iraqi children or send care packages to the troops.

These two groups have accomplished nothing but polarizing their groups into the opposite extremes on campus, leaving many who might agree with their particular ideology embarrassed. Most of UAPR and UACR's actions have successfully left the student body their target audience ill-informed and uninterested.

Jessica Lee is an environmental science senior and the opinions editor. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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Kendrick Wilson

No permit, no ribbons!

Issues like the yellow ribbons on campus and elsewhere in Tucson show just how infantile many of our citizens can be. If only we could move past the immaturity of partisan politics right down to the color of ugly ribbons on trees in our community, it's hard to imagine how much progress could be made.

If the UA College Republicans wanted to show their support for the troops, they would have organized letter-writing drives and sent positive letters to the troops. Instead of doing something positive, they chose to tie cheap yellow crepe paper around dozens of trees on campus without a decorating permit.

The controversy that followed mirrored the "A" Mountain fiasco like clockwork, and anyone with a short-term memory should have expected it.

The reason we have a permit system for people to decorate the campus is to guarantee that one group doesn't infringe on the free speech of another and that all groups are given an equal opportunity to express themselves.

If a group has gone through the appropriate process and obtained a permit, it can put whatever color ribbons it likes on the trees. If members take it upon themselves to do so without a permit (which is vandalism), the university should take the ribbons down.

Kendrick Wilson is a political science sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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