TCS Daily

Are Americans Terrorists?

By Ralph Kinney Bennett - January 10, 2003 12:00 AM

thank my God the sun and moon
Are both stuck up so high,
That no presumptuous hand can stretch
And pluck them from the sky.
If they were not, I do believe
That some reforming ass
Would recommend to take them down
And light the world by gas.

(Popular rhyme c. 1832)

Hey Arianna. We're Americans. Remember America? Your adopted country? We like big cars and trucks and SUVs. Do you know what an SUV is? It's a "sport" - got that? - "utility" - got that? - "vehicle." That's a vehicle you can "play" with (as in bouncing down a rutted timber road just for fun) and a vehicle you can use the next day to haul a chest of drawers over to your brother-in-law's place. They're sporty and useful, okay?

We're Americans. We travel long distances and we like to take a lot of things with us, like the kids and the dog and the eight pieces of luggage, and on the way back we can throw in that interesting chair we saw in that antique shop in New Jersey.

We're Americans. We like to go down to Home Depot and bring back a couple of sacks of top soil and mulch and a new lawnmower - a gasoline powered lawnmower, mind you - and some sheetrock and a couple of 2 by 4s.

We're Americans. We discovered long ago that the Corolla doesn't cut it when you're hauling two kayaks and some backpacks and sleeping bags and it's a windy day. We'll take the Explorer or the Yukon and then we'll be able to take the bikes along, too. And guess what? At the end of the year the difference in the amount of gas we used as compared to the little car wasn't all that much. And we had more fun in the SUV and it came in handy the time we had to ford that stream.

We're Americans. We go where we want when we want and we drive what we want. Your pious little Prius is a nice car. I know. I've driven one and enjoyed it. But when I moved to Pennsylvania, I hauled 1400 pounds of books in the back of my LX450 and when I was almost to my destination I saw a dirt road that looked interesting and I went and explored it and it got pretty rutty and rocky. But the view on the mountain at the end of it was worth it. If I had been in a regular car I wouldn't have gone there. But I wasn't. I was at the wheel of my gas-guzzling, irresponsible SUV, thank God.

We're Americans, not terrorists.

Sydney Smith, writing in the Edinburgh Review in 1810, noted that "men, whose trade is rat-catching, love to catch rats; the bug destroyer seizes on his bug with delight; and the suppressor is gratified by finding his vice." You've found your vice, Mrs. Huffington. Congratulations.


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