Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Can You Believe This Bumper Sticker?
A few days ago I saw this bumper sticker on the back of a Corolla in Dixon, California, and took a picture of it. You may ask yourself, "How could such a sticker exist?" The short article below offers a possible explanation.


America the Illiterate

By Chris Hedges

We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clich├ęs. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically distinct, unbridgeable and antagonistic entities. 

Read the rest of the article here! And please leave a comment for me by clicking the "comment" link below.

15 comments:

  1. Maybe the guy was just thanking god that because of Sarah McCain did not win the elections?

    As you know, I am not a religious guy at all. But I can see some logic in that sticker.

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  2. Nah, that sticker was in Dixon, California. The name "SARAH" is prominent, like the name on any political sticker, and because it was in Dixon, I think the "Thank God!" was a sincere thanks to God for allowing this wonderful woman to become prominent on the world political stage. But you do have me doubting myself now! :-)

    From Wikipedia about Dixon: "In the year 2007 Dixon housed the World's Largest Cornfed Farmers Maze."

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  3. Well, I've unraveled the mystery. I called the telephone number on the bottom of the sticker and I heard a two minute recording about Sarah Lee Bakery Products.

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  4. Oh, Sarah! Thank God you are a Republican! I would hate to think that she belonged to any political party that stood for rational thinking, careful and caring action, or humaneness. As you may gather, I am not a modern Republican, the kind this pig in lipstick attracts (she is not pretty enough to be a pit bull). She is the perfect iconic pin-up for freaky religious desperates who have simply lost their way. My message to them is, stay lost.

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  5. Sarah Palin - All American! Proves that Common sense isn't dead in America after all. Go Sarah Go!

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  6. TAS, you tricked me!

    I called the number on the sticker, and it was a guy who sounded like a minister. He explained to me that he was "praising God for sending Sarah down to us," and the idea popped into his head to make this bumper sticker.

    He was very nice on the phone, and proud of his work. I told him he'd done a good job on it . . .

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  7. Let me think.. Obama logos, meaningless catch-phrases, HOPE, CHANGE, image image image. Is that what you are condemning? It can't be Sarah Lee.

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  8. sure there is some logic. thanks sarah, for driving the literate republicans away from voting for mccain.

    did you call the number?

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  9. First let me begin by saying that I read the entire article linked below the picture post. I'm not quite sure what the connection you were trying to make between the two was; confusion through words?, brainwashing the illiterate?...

    The one I automatically made that I thought you were making was that illiterates were more like to have voted for McCain/Palin. Though I did vote for Obama/Biden I do not like the assertion that those who voted for the McCain/Palin ticket are illiterate or uneducated. If we continue to perputuate the usual stereotypes, then we are unable to break through the barriers that Obama essentially did by winning the presidency the way he did!

    I know plenty of people that voted for McCain/Palin that have advanced degrees and great high-paying knowledged based jobs. That being said, do I think their decision to vote that way was misguided? Yes... but not because of their lack of education.

    We all probably saw the rallies on YouTube of the hate that was being perpetuated at Palin's rallies, but that being said there's also a theory floating around out there that because Obama's candidacy brought out so many minorities in California that's why Prop. 8 passed. Minorities that attend church have especially been taught that homosexuality is wrong, again another stereotype, but that's what they've been taught.

    Is Palin misguided? On some things, yes, extremely. Does she believe God has guided her to a certain extent? Yes... Eh, thousands, shoot millions probably believe this... as our country originates from a puritan-based culture.

    This bumper sticker does not shock me or scare me. Parents will decide how they want to teach their children and that's precisely where it starts. If we start to think that our ideas are better than others then we are doing precisely the wrong thing that we are condemning others for doing, we are also being closeminded.

    Let's just relish in this historic moment and heal our country!

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  10. I don't know what it meant when it was printed, only what it means to me now.
    Picking Sara Palin for VP candidate was an insult to the intelligence of any American with an IQ over 90.
    Not only was it irresponsible, it showed the decision making ability of John McCain and cost him the election.
    SARA...THANK GOD INDEED!

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  11. I enjoy irony. I am aware that much of my ironic humor confuses people, and they don't know how to deal with it. I regard this bumpersticker in that category. In fact, I am thankful for Sarah Palin, whose very being required a lot of people to reevaluate their positions.

    I don't utilize bumperstickers because I don't want to contribute further to the oversimplification of issues.

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  12. Hi Jeff,

    Part of the article was interesting, for example the analysis of the level of vocabulary that is used during Presidential debates. Those literacy figures are pretty astonishing, if they are accurate.

    I just added your blog to my "Follow" list. I've been on your email list for several years (was a friend of Lisa). My blog is http://eriktomren.blogspot.com. It's not very impressive at the moment, as I am not very good with adding pictures and that kind of thing.

    I like writing opinion articles and reviews mostly. I have some recent ones, but my focus is also on republishing stuff that I've written in the past, so that I can have all my writing in one place.

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  13. Hi Lindsey,

    I totally hear you about this being a time for healing our country, and not focusing on our differences. But at the same time, I don't want to be like a Holocaust denier. Some really serious issues came up during this election, and just because we won by a few percentage points doesn't mean that we should ignore them. I'm old enough to remember a time when America started to wake up, took some progressive action, ended a criminal war, and busted a criminal president . . . and I remember how a few minutes later, we forgot everything we had learned, and we elected Reagan/Bush Sr. to start the whole insane, murderous process all over again. The Chris Hedges article about American Literacy deals with how we are able to keep making such disastrous decisions.

    I'm glad you read the whole article--most people would have been too lazy to--but it seems you missed the point of it. By including the Hedges article with my picture of the Sarah Palin bumper sticker, I'm not implying that the people who voted for McCain are uneducated. I'm saying, and the article is saying, that they've lost the ability to think clearly.

    "Governor Palin, are you ready at this moment to perform surgery on this child's brain?"

    "Of course, Charlie. I have several boys of my own, and I'm an avid hunter."

    "But governor, this is neurosurgery, and you have no training as a surgeon of any kind."

    "That's just the point, Charlie. The American people want change in how we make medical decisions in this country. And when faced with a challenge, you cannot blink."

    Young neurophysicist Sam Harris wrote those words in a recent Newsweek article. What McCain did by choosing Palin was WORSE than this. And people who voted for McCain/Palin were SUPPORTING something worse than this. They were acting in a dysfunctional way--it was like the Jerry Springer Show writ large.

    The Hedges article does point out that Obama utilized symbols and crude slogans every bit as much as McCain did. According to Hedges, a large percentage of successful, highly educated people no longer buy books. To distill it down for you, the article is about people basing complex decisions on images, slogans, and feelings rather than emphasizing logical, reasoned analysis and utilizing/synthesizing clear textual information.

    > If we start to think that our ideas are better
    > than others then we are doing precisely the
    > wrong thing that we are condemning others
    > for doing, we are also being closeminded.

    In general, those are good words to live by, Lindsey, but in certain situations, they're not. Good examples are slavery in the American South and Bush Jr's invasion of Iraq. Those were just bad ideas, and their wrongness was self evident, just like the wrongness of Sarah doing brain surgery on a child or McCain being elected president.

    We Obama supporters are guilty of following symbols and slogans as well, but in the case of the election that just ended, the McCain/Palin star symbolized bombing Iran, maybe nuking it out with Russians, giving more of our earnings and our children's earnings to billionaires, and occupying Iraq forever, while the red-white-and-blue rising sun of Obama represented modern health care for all, scientific medical research, respect and peace between our nation and the family of nations in the world, and breaking our addiction to oil.

    Harris continues:

    "The prospects of a Palin administration are far more frightening, in fact, than those of a Palin Institute for Pediatric Neurosurgery. Ask yourself: how has 'elitism' become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth--in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated."

    See now nicely his Harris' article fits with Hedges'? I do admit, though, that Hedges' article was a little harsh, and I question his statistics. I think he's stretching the meaning of "illiterate." However, I did an experiment back in my substitute teacher days on a "smart" class of high school seniors. I had the students, one at a time, read a couple of paragraphs from newspaper articles to me, and they would read them perfectly. After all, they'd been in school most of their lives. But then I asked them to explain to me what they had just read--to tell me what it meant, what was the significance of it--most of them couldn't. So they could read, but they couldn't read and think, read and synthesize information.

    I should let you know that I AM getting with the program, however, of forgiving and healing. A mark of Obama's greatness is that I'm actually willing to follow him and change my whole life. I was going to shun for life a "friend" who voted for McCain, and now, in support of Obama's plan to reach across the aisle and truly unite our nation so we can get something done, I'm going to put the election behind me. Right before the election, he was wavering. He called me for some political advice, and I tried my best to reason with him. Palin was my strongest argument, as she is Sam Harris' strongest argument. But because my friend had gone through hard, terrifying political times in his home country, he was leaning towards McCain simply out of fear, even though McCain as president would actually put his family in more danger and would be likely to risk the lives of his son and my son, both who would be prime draft age during McCain's first term.

    Anyway, it will be tricky for me to deal harmoniously with Bush/McCain/Palin supporters. I've seen the awesome power of their ignorance, and I've been feeling crushed by it for eight years. This might sound hugely overstated, but imagine how a woman would feel if her rapist had served his time in prison and he was now, supposedly rehabilitated, living in her neighborhood again. The ugliness of a clown like Bush being re-elected in 2004 and the incredibly frightening specter of Palin actually having control of our nuclear arsenal were actual terror for me, and I have some psychological adjustment to do. I've been feeling terror for about 7 years, not because I'm a big sissy, but because I have two intelligent, beautiful children who deserve so much better. I feared for their future well-being, a future Bush has caused to begin crumbling right before our eyes.

    I really appreciate your comment on my blog, Lindsey. Thanks so much for your energy!

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  14. Thats a sad thing to have people vote and support someone who has no idea about the world. I know a couple of people who voted for McCain/Palin and where very upset that they didnt get in and I still cant understand why they/anyone would risk the fact that Palin could have become president just to keep the republicans in.
    But lucky for all of us enough of the US people made the right decision.
    What will be interesting is if Palin actually runs again and how many support her. Lucky thats a few years a way.

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  15. "I know plenty of people that voted for McCain/Palin that have advanced degrees and great high-paying knowledged based jobs. That being said, do I think their decision to vote that way was misguided? Yes... but not because of their lack of education."

    Let us look at the definition of education:

    ed⋅u⋅ca⋅tion   [ej-oo-key-shuhn] Show IPA Pronunciation
    –noun
    1. the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/education

    If you are not a critical thinker, then I don't think that you are educated. Maybe you are professional for making money. Nowadays, our education system is helping you to get a good job or better pay, but not to help and educate you to become a better person. How you vote does shows what kind of person you are.

    So, let us look at the definition of EDUCATION again.

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