Hummer burial in Detroit

Today, as progressive groups from around the nation were massing in Detroit in preparation for tomorrow’s much anticipated U.S. Social Forum, the folks from Code Pink, together with Tyree Guyton and volunteers from the Heidelberg Project, came together to bury a burned-out Hummer. Here, from a May post on the Code Pink website, written on the occasion of GM’s decision to kill the Hummer brand, is their explanation for the art installation.

…What’s so bad about the Hummer? Everything. This vehicle, based on the military Humvee tank and first sold to civilians in 1992, is an energy sinkhole. Its dreadful gas mileage of 10 miles per gallon is less than half the mileage of the Model T Ford some 80 years ago! Hummers emit over 3 times more carbon dioxide than average cars, hastening global warming, and they give off substantially more smog-producing pollutants and dangerous particulates. But because they are categorized as light trucks, they are actually exempt from meeting emission or fuel-efficiency standards.

The hulking 8,400-pound H2 or the monstrous 10,000+-pound H1 are a massive waste of metal and their height, their weight and the stiffness of their frames make them killers on the road. If you’re unlucky enough to be in an accident with a Hummer, you’re 3-4 times more likely to be killed than if you were hit by another car.

For years, Hummer owners (an elite class in itself as the H1 starts at $100,000, the H2 at $50,000) took unfair advantage of a tax benefit originally meant to help farmers purchase tractors. Using this tax loophole for vehicles over 6,000 pounds, Hummer owners could get up to a $100,000 tax break! (Compare this to $2,000 for the Toyota Prius hybrid, which gets over 50 miles per gallon.) Taxpayers for Common Sense estimates that this outrageous subsidy for Hummers and heavy SUVs robbed the US Treasury of $800 million a year.

To the great dismay of peace activists, Hummers represented an increasing militarization of our society and the glorification of war. They blurred the lines between reality and fiction, beginning with the first promotion of the Hummer by action hero/Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
While groups, including CODEPINK, raised awareness and tried to make people ashamed of driving a Hummer, the real blow came with the rise in oil prices. Sales plummeted when people started to cough up over $100 to fill the gas tank. The generalized economic crisis in the past two years put the nail in the grave.

For years, CODEPINK protested the Hummer. At auto shows, we would climb on the vehicles and drape them with messages such as: “Real soldiers are dying in their Hummers so you can play soldier in yours.” We held anti-Hummer actions at auto dealers, handing out educational flyers and encouraging prospective buyers to choose other cars. We organized bicycle rides round and round the Hummer dealerships. We passed out Hummer tickets to people driving the monsters. Our Hummer campaign was an important way for us to merge our concern of ending war with our desire to protect the environment. That’s why it’s important for our community to celebrate this victory by bidding the Hummer farewell…

So the formal funeral was held today, in Detroit, on Heidelberg Street, where, if you drive by, you can now see the bright pink roof of a Hummer coming up from the soil, surrounded by flowers, which I’m told are meant to symbolize the green future before us…. Here’s footage of the event from Detroit’s WXYZ television:

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  1. Posted June 21, 2010 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    If anyone attending the US Social Forum in Detroit, and would like to cover it for, let me know. If you’ve got the time and interest, and can write at least reasonably well, we’d love to have you on the team for the rest of the week.

  2. Knox
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    If only the car’s owner was still inside.

  3. Tim
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    It’s cool to see such a big group coming to Detroit. I hope they have a great time in the city. We could use some good, or at least useful, press.

  4. Mr. X
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Some of those union folks down at the US Social Forum were the same people trying to intimidate me back in the day, when I protested in front of Dingel’s office about raising fuel efficiency and getting rid of the Hummer. I’m just saying.

  5. Mr. X
    Posted June 22, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    A friend posted the following to Facebook:

    “xxxxx is witnessing the arrival of the USSF attendees. never seen such an assortment of imported sweatshop clothing, electronics, and backpacks before. It’s like a trust-fund free-for-all out there.”

    He also mentioned seeing lots of bottled water.

  6. Posted June 22, 2010 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

    Ooh, I particularly like the Detroit News coverage, which proclaimed ‘Hundreds of activists from around the country marched today…”

    Hundreds? Really? Can only a few hundred people comprise a march that is a mile or so long? I’d guess 10-15,000 people. It was a pretty awe-inspiring march. Particularly inspiring were the many youth, from all over, and with all different messages. It’s so rare in this day and age that we’re in a truly diverse environment. While I can guarantee there weren’t a whole lot of right-wingers, there were unions, socialists, healthcare reformers, elderly people, people with disabilities, interfaith activists, people who advocated violence, people who advocated non-violence, and a few random people who saw a parade with great music and joined in.

  7. Kim
    Posted June 23, 2010 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    I appreciate Mr. X’s comment. Some of these union stalwarts were, until very recently, fighting against government regulation of the automotive industry. They’re just as bad in my book as the CEOs of the big three who kept pushing SUVs even though they knew it wasn’t tenable. They’re all shortsighted and selfish.

One Trackback

  1. By Limer on June 22, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    The Hummer should have been killed long ago. It’s a symbol of our absolute failure as a nation to acknowledge reality.

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