Axles of Evil

A group called The Detroit Project is running advertisements that copy the tone and style of the government’s latest anti-drug campaign. You know, those commercials that state “Drug money supports terrible things. If you buy drugs, you might, too.”

The Detroit Project’s ads aren’t about drug money, but rather, oil money. “What’s your SUV doing to our national security?” they ask. The ads feature actors in the roles of SUV owners saying things like “I gave money to a terrorist training camp in a foreign country,” “I helped hijack an airplane” and “I helped teach kids around the world to hate America.” Video and transcripts are here.

Contrary to what the cable media would have people believe, the ads are not meant to insult SUV owners, but rather, to appeal to the U.S. automaking industry for more fuel-efficient vehicles. (“Detroit, America needs hybrid cars now” reads a plea at the end of one spot.)

My goal in writing this is nowhere near as noble. After all,someone has got to ridicule those intellectually lazy folks still rushing to join the SUV crowd. They’re the “patriots” who talked tough on terrorism after 9/11, but somehow remain blithely unaware of how their own needless decadance supports the very groups we’re at war with. No, the current situation is too rich with irony to let it pass without comment.

If our president had been more courageous, he would have used some of his post-9/11 political capital to push for stricter fuel efficiency standards, which would have spurred investment in hybrid engines in the short term as well as alternative fuels for future vehicles. Americans, for once, were ready to make genuine lifestyle sacrifices and would perhaps even pay more for such vehicles if they became available. But the Bush administration, of course, would have none of that. Oil men themselves, Bush and Cheney told the country to shop rather than sacrifice. “Keep America Rolling,” the automakers chimed in, encouraging Americans to go out and buy another 12MPG Ford Expedition to replace that aging 14MPG Dodge Durango.

And what about the actual consumers? Yes, it’s true that everyone uses petroleum to some extent and therefore enablesĀ our partnership with terrorist-supporting states. Hell, lots of people drive sports cars that get even worse mileage. And it’s hard to find fault with folks who actually do go off-road, or who tote five kids around, or who purchased SUVs before 9/11 and simply aren’t ready to go buy another vehicle.

But there’s a whole other demographic driving the current SUV trend. These are the people who need a light TRUCK for all their daily duties, like going to the shopping mall or the movies. They continue buying them, even after 9/11, because they’re fashionable, everyone else has one and, of course, it’s so nice sitting up high. They sit in their gigantic vehicles, all by themselves, in the rush-hour traffic to and from work each day. You know how treacherous those suburban freeways can be.

But maybe I’m missing the point entirely, so let me see if I can grasp their logic: Terrorists who spring from a region sustained by oil wealth use that money to repeatedly strike out against our country and its interests. Therefore, I’m going to answer them by buying myself another 14mpg, gas-guzzling monstrosity. Then I’ll slap an American flag onto the back of my SUV to let the motorists I’m muscling off the freeway know that yes, I am a patriot who supports our country in a time of war. And contrary to what the Insight-driving, bleeding-heart liberals are saying, I can’t change my lifestyle by echewing the SUV for an fuel-efficient car, because then, of course, the terrorists win.


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One Response to Axles of Evil

  1. Adam says:

    Assuming Benson is right that the Detroit Project has the car companies in their crosshairs, what does this say about the “silent majority” of Americans that disagree with at least 75% of the mainstream culture. After 911, such people seemed to hide underneath the carpet without even letting out a whimper. Not too many people seemed to be offended by a President who encouraged us to keep on spending money, or the car companies who marketed buying fuel-guzzling behemoths as patriotic. It seems to me that those people should have voiced the offense.

    I hope that such efforts such as The Detroit Project contributes to the anti-establishment culture of America, and will put us on a more introspective track about our buying habits.

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