August 10, 2007

Worse Than Merely Tacky

Last week, USA Today reported that the deadline to purchase special, limited edition Global War on Terror license plates in Oklahoma had been extended, apparently because not enough of them have been ordered. According to an Oklahoma House of Representatives press release, the plates cost $37 each, of which $20 goes to the 45th Infantry Division Museum. (Not the actual Division, but the museum about the Division. A portion of the proceeds from the Patriot plate, by contrast, go to purchase body armor for troops from the Sooner State.)

Since only 100 orders are needed to maintain the plate's availability, I think it's fair to say that State Representative Rex Duncan, father of the GWOT license plate brainchild and the legislation creating it, has failed to successfully brand the fear-mongering and macho posturing that has been do endemic in this country since 9/11. It is heartening to see that, even in this bluest of states, the number of people interested in such an emblem of base whoredom has yet to crack triple digits. For while at first blush the GWOT plate might seem merely tacky, further consideration reveals that it is, in fact, a nasty stain on the landscape.

The Global War on Terror tag prominently features an image of the World Trade Center's twin towers in New York City, which, along with the Pentagon in Arlington, VA were the sites of three of the four worst acts of terrorism on American soil. (The Trade Center was attacked in both 2001 and 1993.) No mention or representation of the fourth attack is made, and this is important because that attack took place in - you guessed it - Oklahoma City, where more than 160 people lost their lives when Timothy McVeigh bombed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

Why isn't that home-grown tragedy featured, or at least sharing space with the towers? Why is Oklahoma, which has been home to human catastrophe of its own, instead pimping another state's anguish?

One can only conclude that Rep. Duncan and the other jingoistic, publicity-seeking fools behind this gross indignity didn't think an act of mass murder perpetrated by a white, English-speaking Christian had as much "pop" as one performed by a group of Arab Muslim fanatics in a city with greater curb appeal. At the root, the GWOT tag is one state papering over the shattered lives of its own citizens in order to bask in the halo of grief from another's calamity because it is better marketing for their political party's cause célèbre.

The Global War On Terror plate is far worse than merely tacky; it is crass, ugly and bigoted. Judging by the lack of orders for this travesty, happily, the people of Oklahoma appear to agree.

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