Archive - Apr 27, 2006

This Cover Don't Run

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Memo to Random Edina Driver: YOU ARE DUMB.

Despite my hate for it, I do find myself in Edina on occasion. I live just north of the Hated Rich White Suburb, and thus, for certain aspects of the consumer monoculture, it's the closest and most convenient. And I was there last night, minding my own business, driving my car, when I saw the moron.

A lot of people put political statements on their cars. I understand that. Your car is out and about. It mingles. It's seen by people who will never drive past your house. I could reach twice the audience of this column just by putting a bumper sticker on my car, and half the people who saw the sticker wouldn't agree with it.

But the vehicle-based politics I love the best are the ones I know, instantly, the person driving the car doesn't actually understand. Like an asshole in a suit and a cowboy hat doing "Born In The USA" at a karaoke bar and slurring out the chorus like he's Toby Keith. Which brings us to the moron in Edina with the big-ass SUV.

I did not get a make and model, so for all I know it could have been a biodiesel-burning hybrid Escalade. But all I know about the car was that it was big enough to warrant a spare tire hanging off the back. And on that spare tire was a spare tire cover. And on that spare tire were three words and a picture.

The three words? "THERE'S ONLY ONE". The picture? The American flag. And that's how I knew the owner of that tire cover was a fucking moron.

What does that even mean? I know what the owner wanted it to mean. I know what the owner thinks it means. That America is unique, that America is special, that America is best. But that's not what his tire cover says. All his tire cover says is that there's only one.

If the flag means flag, then of course there's only one flag. Every country, as far as I know, has only one flag. It's not like we're special in that regard. It's not like Chad has got a new flag every month. Every country in the world can have a wheel cover that says "THERE'S ONLY ONE" and put a picture of their flag under it. Congratulations, dipshit. You're telling everyone you're proud of your country because it's like every other country in the world.

But what if the flag means America? That's certainly a patriotic worldview, the kind of over-reliance on metaphor that leads to constitutional amendments against burning stuff. But again, there's only one United States of America? Technically correct, but not terribly special. There's only one Iraq, too. At least for the time being. But there will never be three Iraqs. Three former Iraqs, sure. Just like there are a dozen former Soviet Unions.

But there's still only one of every nation. That's part and parcel of the definition of a sovereign state. Which I don't think is the point this person was hoping to get across with their wheel cover.

Is it too much to ask for people to at least parse their fucking slogans? If you're going to condense your worldview into three words and a picture, you owe it to all of us to make sure the subject, the verb, the object, and any modifiers you fit on your bully bumper actually make sense. Cognitive dissonance leads to road rage.