Psychiatry ponders whether extreme bias can be an illness. Of course it is. Have you ever driven anywhere with a peace sign affixed to your car? I have. As a result of my simple exercise in self-expression, I have been closely followed, boxed in, and suffered various other forms of vehicular intimidation while traveling at 70 miles an hour.
A few months ago, after two young people were RUN OVER BY A TRUCK at a rally in Garden Grove, CA, I wrote an article titled Driving While Peaceful. In it, I described several incidents I personally witnessed wherein some crazy rightwingnut threatened perfectly innocent people with suffering and death.
Here ya go:
I was driving into the city the other day. I was in the fast lane in preparation to transition to another freeway. I glanced in my rearview mirror, and saw a large vehicle close on my tail. I speeded up thinking that I could open space between us.
No good. The vehicle stayed right on my bumper. I considered tapping the brake pedal, but feared that would lead to a traffic hazard. Next I knew, the vehicle was only about three feet back. My adrenalin surged in anticipation of a collision. Rather, he changed lanes in the narrowest space imaginable, and pressed ahead of me in the lane to my right, nearly sideswiping me.
Now, what could explain such dangerous behavior? The vehicle was a Ford Expedition, the hugest piece of polluting iron that Ford makes. The Expedition averages 13 mpg on premium fuel. I had a peace sign on my rear window. He had an American Flag on his. Oh, you could try to explain this by surmising that he was in a terrible hurry to get somewhere. But it seemed not. He simply pulled a carlength ahead and stayed there for four miles, until his offramp appeared.
This is not the first time that I have been vehicularly intimidated due to my plea for peace. I travel down a major interstate several times a year to visit family. Seldom do more than a hundred miles go by without some jerk in a big car or pickup truck either sitting on my bumper or pacing me so they can stare at me.
Here’s my question. Now what on earth would make people so angry that they would risk a traffic collision? The idea of peace? The idea that I want it? The idea that I say that I want it publicly?
Why are those who are most anxious to declare their patriotism the angriest at me? At least 75% of the time, these angry drivers have American Flags on their windows, bumpers, or on their antennas. And I look about as american as anyone else.
If I could hear what they were saying it bet it would sound something like this: I bet she’s oneathem America-haters. I would like to dispute that contention. I am an American who seeks peace. How can I be an America-hater when I am American? Next, someone will call me a self-hating American. Giggle.
This is not the first time I have noted this bad behavior. After the 2000 election debacle, I was standing in front of my local courthouse with other concerned Americans talking about what happened. Community leaders had called a meeting. Some of the people were standing near the curb. I watched in horror as an gray-haired white man in a Jeep Wrangler aimed his vehicle along the curbline and accelerated to 60 miles an hour. Many people had to fling themselves out of his path.
Now, I bet he thinks he is just a regular American patriot. But I wonder what his defense would have been in the Court Room had he injured or killed someone in his fit of rage.
Unfortunately, injuries occurred in the last public incident, near Los Angeles. A supporter of the Minutemen struck two young people with his vehicle, then ran. What a hero!
As I was driving home from school one afternoon in 2003, I sat behind a Mercedes Benz. We were stopped at a light. An elderly homeless woman’s shopping cart projected slightly into the crosswalk. When the light turned green, the Mercedes driver aimed his car directly at her cart as he accelerated, then swerved at the last minute.
Now, after he did that, I wonder if he thought to himself…I must be crazy.