Ride Alone, Your Ride With Bin Laden Thesis

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¶ … Ride Alone, Your Ride With Bin Laden

When You Ride Alone, You Ride with Bin Laden

The thesis that Bill Maher drives home is straight-forward: instead of waving flags and using "patriotism" to divide society, the U.S. Government (Congress and the George W. Bush Administration) should be asking Americans to change habits, to sacrifice for the good of the country, to get out of our cars, to stop using so much foreign oil, and by doing so the U.S. would then have a chance win the war on terrorism.

What Maher means is that in the past, in times of war and crisis, the American people were only too willing and eager to conserve valuable resources. Especially during WWII, the government asked citizens to cut back on their use of oil and other resources. He also means to show how inept the government was in approaching the American people in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 ("9/11"). Basically, people were given frightening warnings about various levels of terrorist threats.

And Bush urged citizens to keep shopping as though nothing had happened. And instead of using the bully pulpit of the presidency to urge people to get out of their cars and conserve resources, Bush and others urged people to put flags on their cars. Instead of using cliched symbolism like a flag, Maher says (page 27), true patriotism is "...doing something for your country."

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TWO: The first of four examples of what Maher says we should be doing (or not doing) is to stop buying those "...big, garish wagons that we want to make us powerful, but of course cannot" - the SUVs. He's talking about SUVs that get 10, 12 miles a gallon, and at the time he published the book (2002), gas prices were only around $2 a gallon. Now gas prices are upwards of $3 and $4 a gallon. Listening to Maher on Larry King's CNN broadcast one can see he is still saying the same things only with more emphasis and urgency.

Thesis on Ride Alone, Your Ride With Bin Laden Assignment

THREE. Using Henslin's book, explain why the opposite of what should happen is happening.

A continued: Henslin's input: Author James M. Henslin (p. 432) makes a point that goes a bit farther than Maher's point. Burning gasoline (fossil fuel) in internal combustion engines, Henslin writes, "...is the main source of pollution" in the U.S. And other industrialized nations. And of course the SUVs that Maher complains (rightly so) about use far, far more fossil fuel than hybrids or other high-mileage cars. The more greenhouse gas (from burning gasoline in cars) we put into the atmosphere, the deeper trouble the planet is in regarding climate change. So instead of buying gas hogs like SUVs, Americans need to buy hybrids and encourage elected officials to speed up the development of fuel cells, which "convert hydrogen into electricity" (Henslin, 432).

The 2nd of four examples to be used in this context from Maher is found on page 93; Maher chides the American adult society for allowing their children to grow up "decadent and stupid." He harps on the fact that today's young people are so locked into their video games and personal hedonism they become totally disinterested in learning anything. These kids today, when asked about any event in world history, say, "How should I know about that, I wasn't even born!" (Maher, 94). That is a sad fact indeed, that parents allow their children (especially boys) to become hooked on mindless and in many instances violent video games.

A continued: Henslin's input: on page 71 Henslin asserts that about "one-fourth" of the 4-to-6-year-old population play video games an hour a day. And moreover, Henslin talks about how young people watch a lot of television and the sexual stereotypes tend to be reinforced through television. He doesn't say it specifically, but it is obvious to any observer of young people (including college males) that video games (especially sports and war-related games) take up a lot of their time. And in the case where women are breaking out of traditional stereotypes and becoming the "heroes" they still seem very sexy and seem to fall into the stereotype that males like. Henslin devotes page 72 to Lara Croft ("Tomb Raider") as a female superhero that on the one hand seems to be breaking old stereotypes, but on the other, falls into a new stereotype. "...After foes are vanquished," he writes, the "ultimate goal of the video game...is to see Lara in a nightie" (Henslin, 72). In this case, you can be sure most young males would love to see Angela Jolie in night clothes - whether she plays in Lara Croft (the movie) or not. This may be considered "recreation" in the minds of some, but the animated figure of "Lara" in the video game conjures up sexism, pure and simple.

Number 3 of the four examples is Maher's irritation with the lack of leadership at the executive level of the U.S. government. President Bush, Maher implies, is gutless because instead of telling Americans "...the unpopular truth: that we use too much energy, that we are spoiled children whose appetite for oil is making us weak and vulnerable" (Maher, 74), Bush has continued to push drilling for more oil. There has been little if any talk of conservation and moving into a world of renewable energy. Bush is surrounded by oil-related executives like Vice President Dick Cheney (former CEO of Halliburton) and the White House has been friendly to big oil companies and has encouraged drilling in ANWAR (the Alaskan preserve for natural world animals). Conservation-minded leaders have had very little access to Bush and his White House.

A continued: Henslin's input: On page 301 alluding to arrogance on the part of the executive branch of government Henslin explains the "power elite" in Washington. Henslin refers to sociologist C. Wright Mills, who claims "the decisions that have the greatest impact on the lives of Americans - and people across the globe - are made by a power elite" (Henslin, 301). The top leaders of the largest corporations, Mills claims, along with the president and his administration, "senior members of Congress who chair the major committees" and the military, make up the power elite, the group that is not necessarily elected by the people but in fact makes pivotal decisions on the use of natural resources. This is the power elite, and in Henslin's book he paraphrases sociologist William Domhoff as referring to the power elite as "the ruling class" (Henslin, 301). The "ruling class is the "1% of Americans who belong to the super-rich," also known as "the powerful capitalist class" that control corporations and boards that oversee big universities.

And number 4 is found on page 117 of Maher's book; he rages about the amount of food Americans waste, and about how much we eat. In fact, Americans consume 30% of the world's resources even though we're only 5% of the world's population, Maher continues. But specifically in this section he is upset about the terrible eating habits of many Americans, leading to the leading killer, cardiovascular disease. If Mamma Cass had shared her sandwich with Karen Carpenter, Maher concludes, "there'd be two more singers alive today." It is true that many Americans are overweight and many people are hooked on high-calorie diets served at fast-food restaurants.

A continued: Henslin's input: On page 305 Henslin points out that following the creation of efficient machines in the Industrial Revolution, Americans began to have a surplus of resources. With even more efficient machines, Americans produced more and more goods and sociologist Thorstein Veblen coined the phrase "conspicuous consumption" to explain the change in the attitudes of Americans. He is talking about basically Americans becoming consumers of goods and services well beyond what they used to consume. Meanwhile, to… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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