meaning of the bumper stickers
April 4, 2012 10:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to read Duncan's essay,"What Fundamentalists Need for Their Salvation". Now I 'd like to know about three phrases that he writes in it, " ....plaster our cars with bumper stickers that say 1,2, and 3, and leave it at that." 1) Mean People Suck 2) No Billionaire Left Behind 3) Who would Jesus Bomb? Are all the phrases popular? What do you want to say by plastering your cars with them?Does it show that you are a cool onlooker or something? I have no idea.
posted by mizukko to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I have seen each of those bumper stickers on cars.

"Mean People Suck" is meant to be ironic and jokey, as it's using a "mean" and hostile tone to dismiss "mean people," but it's also meant to be a plea for civility and courtesy to others.

"No Billionaire Left Behind" is a play on the name of a George W. Bush education initiative called "No Child Left Behind"; the joke is that (presumably, in the view of the bumper sticker's owner) the Bush administration's policies disproportionately benefited the extremely rich.

"Who Would Jesus Bomb" is a take-off on the "What Would Jesus Do?" bumper stickers, and the purpose of those stickers is to suggest that many people who self-identify as devout Christians but who supported the US's recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have overlooked what (presumably, in the view of the bumper sticker's owner) is Jesus's central message of tolerance and peace.

I haven't read the essay, but my guess is that Duncan is condemning "bumper sticker activism" as lazy and self-congratulatory.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:41 AM on April 4, 2012 [5 favorites]

It's a blending of social activism with American car culture. You can express your beliefs and (presumably) change other people's beliefs by placing a pithy sticker on the back bumper of your car. Anyone stuck behind you in a traffic jam gets to stare at the back of your car, plastered in 'em.

Plus what Sidhedevil said.
posted by carsonb at 11:22 AM on April 4, 2012

Best answer: I just read the essay and I think Sidhedevil has it. That point in his essay is a little bit meandering (at least to my reading), but he is saying that to be truly "evangelical" you should open your heart fully to every person and see the beauty and wisdom that comes from our collective humanity. Then he worries that if you open your heart all the way, that means you'll have some "hate-driven zealots" in there too, and that one counterpoint to such zealotry is simply to "sit on the sidelines with the like-minded, plaster our cars with bumper stickers...and leave it at that." The way he writes it he is assuming that the motivation for bumper stickers of that sort is just to stick it to fundamentalist/right-wingers and not much more.

It seems odd to assume that people like that would be automatically "on the sidelines" and "leav[ing] it at that." Instead, I would expect that people who go out of their way to publicly make a divisive point in favor of peace or acceptance or social justice are more likely to be active in pursuing them.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:35 AM on April 4, 2012

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