The Hummer is Dead - Let's Bury It and Build a New Economy

Posted by CODEPINK Staff


DETROIT, February 24, 2010 – General Motors today announced that Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines Company (China) was unable to complete the acquisition of HUMMER. As a result, GM will begin the orderly wind-down of the HUMMER operations. – GM Press Release

The Hummer is dead. Not even the Chinese could revive it. The Hummer was emblematic of a Rambo-like era, culture, lifestyle, and political philosophy disrespectful to both human beings and mother nature. It is now time to bury the militaristic, gas-guzzling, polluting 8,400-pound hunks that drove environmentalists and peaceniks crazy as they cruised down our city streets.

CODEPINK is planning to bury the Hummer with an art installation in motor city, Detroit, during the US Social Forum in June. Our memorial will include the burial of an actual Hummer and the rise of the new economy emerging from its ashes. Picture bicycles, butterflies, a surrounding community garden, and more! We are also holding a poetry contest to find the best “Ode to the Hummer” to engrave on the tombstone that will accompany the buried Hummer.

The piece will be unveiled at a public ceremony at the Social Forum to recognize and rejoice in the Hummer’s demise, and welcome in new forms of transportation—as well as new forms of behavior--that are green, clean and peaceful. Some 20,000 activists from around the country are expected to take part in the Forum, which will focus on seeking solutions to the issues ranging from the environment to war to social justice. Since the Hummer intersects all of these issues and since the Forum is being held in the auto capitol of the nation, it is the perfect place to mark the end of the oil-based, war-driven era and the birth of a green, peace economy.

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.

The Hummer will not go quietly into the night but instead will be recognized as the epitome of the hubris that we must put behind us if our planet and species are to survive.

Medea Benjamin is the cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace.

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  • commented 2016-03-10 01:01:29 -0500
    Climate change is an ongoing issue that has been around for more than a few decades. Many efforts have been contributed in a continuous fashion by various organizations and individuals alike on both local grounds and on an international scale as well. They include encouraging car owners to drive electric vehicles or gas-efficient transportation only and these are a great start so far for this particular industry.
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