Dueling Bumper Stickers


I occasionally travel from north central Pennsylvania, a mostly rural, generally conservative, area to Amherst, Massachusetts, home of generally liberal colleges like Amherst and Smith.  It’s an adventure in dueling bumper stickers.

In Amherst, I’m told to “coexist” with my neighbors, to “enlighten up,” to seek “peace.”  I’m told to go organic and to support my local farmers.  Perhaps my favorite Amherst bumper sticker was the one that told me, “I’m already against the next war.”

Just today in Pennsylvania, I was taught different lessons by different stickers.  I was told to seek “peace thru superior firepower.”  I was encouraged to join the NRA (National Rifle Association, of course) and to “stand and fight.”  I was reminded that “All gave some — some gave all,” with the image of a soldier kneeling next to the grave of a comrade in arms.  “Don’t tread on me,” the slogan of tea partiers, is a common t-shirt and flag.

I suppose these are visible reminders of red versus blue America.  The America of “freedom isn’t free,” that we need to be tough and strong and assertive to defend ourselves against evil-doers, versus the America of harmony and accord to be achieved through greater understanding and tolerance.

The conservatives always seem to have the funnier stickers.  My all-time favorite (seen many years ago in Colorado) is “Ted Kennedy’s Car Has Killed More People Than My Gun.”

Perhaps there’s a lesson in this.  Always suspect slogans, especially those that fit on a bumper sticker.  And not only conservative ones.  Let’s not forget the vapid “hope” and “change” of the Obama campaign, words that were so malleable and fuzzy that they basically meant nothing.  Or they meant what you wanted them to mean, which is almost the same thing.

Maybe a friend of mine is right when he expresses a wish that Americans would just shut up and stop airing their political and social views on their cars and trucks.

It is something that is peculiarly American.  Can we imagine a German citizen with a sticker on his BMW that says “Peace thru superior firepower,” with a Stuka dive bomber featured?  Yet Americans think little of having such a sticker featuring the image of a B-52 Stratofortress.

Lessons?  I don’t know.  I catch the humor in some of these stickers, but some of them really make me wonder.

America is a bellicose land: even our bumper stickers are at war with each other!

W.J. Astore

7 thoughts on “Dueling Bumper Stickers

  1. See a lot of those “COEXIST” bumper stickers in Austin. Of course the people with them don’t seem to understand that the first symbol is that of Islam, the most violent, bigoted, and intolerant major religion on the planet. The idea that “Islam is a religion of peace” is probably one of the biggest lies in modern history.



    1. Right behind that noble, peace seeking Christian nation that sends drones all over the Moslem world killing civilians and calling it “collateral damage”. Maybe we should have a bumper sticker that promotes “CEASE TO EXIST”.


      1. Christianity has nothing to do with BO using drones. BO is probably a closet Muslim in any case.



  2. Reblogged this on Bracing Views and commented:

    A little more than five years ago, I wrote this article on dueling bumper stickers. These stickers showcased the divide within America — and also the way we seek to advertise our views (and antagonize others?) by plastering such stickers on our vehicles and in other public spaces. Recently, I’ve seen a sticker that announces “God, Guns, & Guts Made America Great,” which I suppose is an “in your face” message meant to irritate liberals. Readers, what stickers have you seen recently, and what do they tell us about America? Is it too late to “coexist”?


  3. Way too many Germans have an iron cross in some form on their vehicle, and some paint their cars in dull military colors… I share your pain.


Comments are closed.