Gaylord Guenin: Making a buck off bumper stickers, here and in Iraq
September 3, 2003
A friend of mine, who also happens to be a Lenado neighbor, recently suggested that I do a bumper sticker that would read: “If You Don’t Live in Lenado, You Don’t Belong in Lenado.”
That struck me as being a tad harsh, perhaps even somewhat inhospitable, but I must confess that the idea did tickle my fancy. Lenado residents can be a cantankerous lot, often saluting strangers who are driving too fast with a vivid display of an index finger accompanied by language that would be banned from the Internet.
And this time of year, the presence of outsiders becomes even more irritating. We have spent a summer watching the SUVs speed by, often towing trailers loaded with those obnoxious ATVs; we have had strangers roaring up and down the road on motorcycles; we’ve tracked hordes of Yuppies in their outlandish costumes riding by on mountain bikes; and we have watched as more and more litter accumulates alongside our roads.
It is little wonder that we become somewhat testy in August. While only small portions of our visitors are obnoxiously discourteous, all of them, 100 percent of them, pass through Lenado without leaving a penny. That in itself is a major irritant.
Thousands come to our valley each summer. They spend money in Aspen, in Woody Creek, even in Basalt and Carbondale, but they never touch their wallets while passing through Lenado.
We are not greedy, but considering what we have to put up with, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to want a little something for ourselves. Because of all sorts of county and state laws, any sort of commercial activity in Lenado, such as a brothel or a casino, would have to be done on the sly. We are working on that! In the meantime, I rejected the bumper sticker idea, although not entirely.
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There are not enough residents in Lenado to make even a few bucks on the bumper stickers, but with a slight change in the wording and a switch from English to Urdu or Arabic, I believe I may end up with a gold mine on my hands. Instead of saying, “If You Don’t Live in Lenado, You Don’t Belong in Lenado,” my new bumper sticker will read, “If You Don’t Live in Iraq, You Don’t Belong in Iraq.”
Iraq has a population of 25 million or so residents (Lenado has less than 20), and it is rather obvious that a large portion of that population is pretty damn upset about the Americans and the British being present. They are authentic invaders, after all. I am guessing that the majority of Iraqis would stand in line to buy my bumper stickers.
A great deal is being made of our intelligence prior to the invasion of Iraq, what with George W., our compassionate cowboy president, claiming in his State of the Union address that Saddam was trying to buy nuclear material from an African nation. Plus, there were all of Bush’s dire warnings of massive stores of nasty weapons in Iraq, and then his hints of some unholy alliance between al-Qaeda and Iraq. We are still looking for the weapons and for the slightest hint of any connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda. So far, nothing has been found.
As you may recall, George W. made that rather pathetic show of ego by flying to a U.S. aircraft carrier to announce on May 1 that “major combat” was over in Iraq. It appears that major combat has just begun. And we really don’t have to go looking for al-Qaeda anymore. It would seem that their agents of death, and those of endless other fanatical Muslim groups, are pouring into Iraq to strike out at the infidels.
One must wonder if the men in power in this administration actually believed that an army made up primarily of Christians could bomb the hell out of an Islamic state and then be welcomed like a bunch of rich uncles. Our troops were barely there a week when Iraqis began demanding that we leave.
Our government seemed shocked by the fact that the Shiite Muslims in Iraq did not immediately embrace the coalition fighters and our policies as apparently was expected. Another little breakdown in intelligence?
If you listen carefully to what this administration keeps pumping out about “terrorism,” you might be led to believe that we are dealing with a tiny minority of fanatical, suicidal Muslim fundamentalists. How accurate is the intelligence here?
As of the year 2000, it was estimated that there were approximately 1.2 billion Muslims on the planet (compared with approximately 2 billion Christians). If we understand nothing else about the Islamic faith, we do know that the majority of Muslims are far more serious about their religion and their beliefs than even a minority of Christians. Muslims not only accept the belief that it is honorable to die in the name of their God, they believe they will be rewarded in the “next world” for their actions.
We most likely are not talking about a small cadre of Muslim terrorists. It is more likely that we are looking at an unlimited number of potential terrorists, and we may be looking at a conflict that might last for decades.
One thing seems certain and that is the fact that my bumper stickers will be hot sellers in Iraq and maybe most of the Middle East for years to come. Of course, I have no solid intelligence upon which to base my certainty, but what the hell, I’ll just wing it in the manner of the current administration.
This is the 293rd article in a two-part series devoted to the community of Woody Creek, a place that loves outsiders because they spend money there. The same can’t be said for Lenado.