The "White" Knot

There seems to be a growing trend in our nation of demonstrating our support of some cause by wearing a ribbon of some color. I don’t think I have ever really given much thought to this whole topic. But there is somewhat of a history of this in our nation.

I think the tradition goes back as far as the Civil War at least. There is some historical evidence that shows it may go back even further. The earliest ribbon tradition is the yellow ribbon. This traditionally signified someone who had a loved one serving in the military overseas (typically in combat). There has been a slight twist to this, however, where it has now become more of a symbol of one’s support of all troops serving everywhere in our military.

There is also the red ribbon. This has at least two major meanings of which I am aware. The first was to raise “drug awareness.” I remember this from school and the D.A.R.E program. It was to help promote the “Just Say No” slogan. The other major meaning the red ribbon has taken on is that of HIV/AIDS. It is to raise awareness of the problem this STD is posing here in America and the world.

There is also the pink ribbon that squarely belongs to the breast cancer arena. This ribbon has come to be worn by both those who are survivors of breast cancer and those who are trying to raise awareness about breast cancer.

Following 9/11, there were many red, white, and blue ribbons everywhere. This was showing to demonstrate one’s patriotism as well as their condolences to the families of those lost in the collapse of the World Trade Centers and United Airlines Flight 93.

The latest ribbon to take to the streets is the white ribbon, or more precisely “the white knot.” This ribbon is to show one’s support of the movement for same-sex marriage. In fact, there is even a website dedicated to this movement, it is WhiteKnot.org.

I am not going to rant on why this movement should fail. If this is how the supporters of this movement wish to raise awareness, then that is their prerogative. If you wish to know my stance on same-sex marriage you can read some of my previous posts on that here and here. However, hearing about this movement made me begin to ponder the whole question of visibly identifying with a movement.

I think what is beginning to happen is that this “identifying” by ribbons is becoming a way to point out those who don’t support a movement just as much as it is to publicly identify with a movement. I will use the white ribbon (knot) as an example. This becomes an easy way to identify those who support same-sex marriage in the public realm. On the other hand, if there is a rally supporting same-sex marriage where everyone is wearing the white knot and an opponent wants to attend the rally and refuses to accept a ribbon what do you suppose would happen? That person would quickly be identified as an “enemy.” What actions follow from that identification is not predictable because that rally could be a sensible, peaceful rally where no negative actions would follow. However, it could just as easily be that it is somewhat of an unruly rally where the opponent would be forced to leave immediately. Regardless of what follows, the identification will still be made. This could be said of any “awareness ribbon”—those who support our troops and those who do not, those who support finding a cure for breast cancer and those who do not, etc.

What is a little scary to me about this is it reminded me all too vividly of an “awareness ribbon” that was used for evil. Proceeding out of the Holocaust there was not just a movement to identify one’s self as a Jew by wearing a yellow Star of David, but a requirement by the Nazi government of Germany.

Now, I am not proclaiming that this happening with all the ribbons today (and there are a bunch, see for yourself here), but there exists that potential. It just made me begin to think about this topic.
What'd you think? 


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