When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden: What the Government Should be Telling Us to Help Fight the War on Terrorismby Bill Maher
Political provocateur Bill Maher tells it like it is in a useful and hilarious guide for the many Americans who want to do more here at home to help the war effort, but are at a loss as to what. Thirty-three dynamic new posters and several classics from our government's archive accompanied by text from one of our leading pundits and cutting-edge comedians make this… See more details below
Political provocateur Bill Maher tells it like it is in a useful and hilarious guide for the many Americans who want to do more here at home to help the war effort, but are at a loss as to what. Thirty-three dynamic new posters and several classics from our government's archive accompanied by text from one of our leading pundits and cutting-edge comedians make this the perfect book for this time in our nation's history, the zeitgeist of post-9/11 America. This is the book that will help Americans make connections between what we do and how it can help (or hurt) our troops and us.
- Phoenix Books, Incorporated
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Read an Excerpt
INTRODUCTION: MAKING CONNECTIONS
When the shock of September 11, 2001 wore off and Washington, D.C. went back to what it does best -- pointing fingers and renaming things -- the phrase we heard over and over with regard to our intelligence agencies was "connecting the dots." The FBI and CIA failed to "connect the dots," the strands of information that warned a real war was about to start with a sneak attack.
But plenty of dots aren't being connected by the average citizen, either, and that's what this book is about: how we all can connect what we do on the home front to quicker victory here with fewer of our servicemen overseas.
Traveling the country, I find that people want to do more here at home, but are at a loss as to what. Even when the government issues a Terrorism Advisory, it's maddeningly vague -- "Terrorist alert today! Code Burnt Orange!"
"And what?" I always want to say, "Bring a sweater?"
Of course, there are reasons why the American government no longer helps us make war-related connections, mostly having to do with where those connections might lead us politically. There's a World War II-era government poster that reads "Should brave men die so you can drive?" -- a question we might well ask ourselves today. But don't count on the government to ask it, not in an age where campaign contributions from oil companies are so important to getting elected.
And so we're on our own -- but that's OK. Because if the government won't tell you what time it is, I will. In the pages that follow are the posters I believe the United States government should be making and plastering everywhere, like they did in World War I, World War II and the Cold War. We see in posters from those eras a government unafraid to call upon its citizens to curb travel, save tin, buy bonds, plant a victory garden - whatever it took to make those connections for people, so the average Joe knew what he or she could do to help the war effort.
Of course, this is a very different kind of war, and what we can do to win it is sometimes very different from how other generations pitched in. But the common thread from then to now is the idea that civilian support can be the deciding factor in a war, provided people know what to do. Loving my country as I do, it is my sincerest hope that this book will help.
WHEN SACRIFICE WAS COOL
Perhaps the most threatening of all the connections we're not making these days is the one between terrorism and one of the great loves of the American life, the automobile. Each of us in our own individual high-performance, low-gas-mileage vehicles, exercising our God-given right to drive wherever we want, whenever we want at 0% financing and practically no fuel cost, inadvertently supports terrorism.
When we don't bother to conserve fuel and when we treat gasoline as if it were some limitless entitlement, we fund our enemies, like a wealthy junkie fattening the wallet of his dealer. Maybe not directly -- it's not like you'll find Ayman al-Zawahiri making your change in the Plexiglas booth at the Exxon station. But he may as well be, because you can bet Al Qaeda funds their most ruthless operations with money they get from people who sell their oil to Exxon before Exxon sells it to you.
The countries that have the money to offer large cash awards to the families of suicide bombers, or to send little boys to madrasses, the prep schools of hate, are getting that money from people using lots of oil.
Of course, conserving oil by carpooling may sound like a neat idea and maybe on some level we get it that we'd have more leverage with these terrorist-funding nations if we weren't beholden to them. But actually doing it means we'd have to drive out of our way to pick somebody up and that'll take time and he'll probably wanna talk and I'm not much of a morning person and what if he spills some of his damn mochaccino on my taupe, brushed-leather seats?
And there's the rub. We are hopelessly, romantically, singin'-in-the-rain in love with our cars. Rather than carpool or improve mass transit to ease traffic and commuting time, we'd rather live in the car and make it more like home: state-of-the-art sound systems, cruise control, telephones, bigger built-in receptacles to hold more food. No wonder Al Gore was ridiculed for suggesting we find a way to phase out the internal combustion engine within 25 years. You'd think he asked everyone to turn in their car keys right then and there, taking away our freedom to come and go as we please and trapping us cruelly in our homes with our spouses. But Gore was right when he said it was a matter of national security.
We used to make that connection, because the government endorsed it. An original 1943 wartime poster warned Americans, "When you ride alone, you ride with Hitler!" Oil was regarded as an essential weapon during World War II, and it is certainly no less so today.
I chose "ride alone" as the title of this book because it not only pays homage to a time when sacrifice was cool, but also warns us in a larger sense what happens when we ride alone. We've become a nation of individuals, accustomed to "getting mine" and "looking out for Number One." Even the Army's recruitment ad shows a soldier running alone and tells you you'll be "an army of one."
But we're locked now in a bitter fight for the very way of life that allows us such indulgence, and victory clearly hinges on whether we ignorantly continue to "ride alone" or rise up once again to stand together.
So remember: when you ride alone, you ride with bin Laden. And that's not an easy smell to get out of your car.
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