by K.M. Zahrt
Dear Renegade Owner,
A week ago, when I was doing the most innocent of all activities in driving home for lunch, my route, which takes me past the GM Truck and Bus Assembly in Flint, Michigan, made me witness to your act. I saw you driving your Jeep Renegade — customized with large, off-road tires and outfitted with a giant American flag flying freely over the rear — with the top down, doors detached, and music blaring on a beautiful, sunny day. I couldn’t make out the song you were sharing, but I imagine it may have been something by Bruce Springsteen. That would’ve done right, for your purposes at any rate, as you hot-rodded your ride maniacally on the dirt road within the barbed-wire fence that guards the GM property.
Are you, sir, fully aware of how deep the rivalry runs between our American automakers? Do you understand the seriousness of the competition between General Motors, Chrysler/Jeep, and the like? You don’t have to look too far to find the stories of red-white-and-blue-blooded Americans, some of whom have been willing to serve in the face of death out of loyalty for this country, who have been turned away and told to park their American-made vehicles in back lots labeled for foreigners because their auto was made by that other company down the road.
The tradition may have started out of team spirit or maybe as a joke, but it is the law of the land now. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all American automakers are not created equal, that they are not endowed by their creators with certain unalienable rights, that among these are not the rights to have your Jeep at or near any public-facing lot of any of GM’s facilities, even if you’re under their employ.
But, to you, sir — I don’t believe I have to explain this. I believe your knowledge of these facts is the source of your motivation and explains your behavior. As much as GM is your company as an American citizen, it is just as much your right to thumb your nose at it in this act of defiance as an American citizen. That’s freedom, my friend, for this was equally an act of loyalty to Chrysler, America’s Import.
Your demonstration, however, begs questions: Will the First Amendment protect your actions as that of free speech? Probably. To encourage behaviors such as yours is the reason why we continue to broaden the scope of the amendment’s reach. Moreover, does your right to free speech trump the laws against trespassing which you have violated in the process? Probably not. But, it should. This is America, for God’s sake, and the trespassing was required to make your act of freedom reign so supreme.
I say to you, it is unlikely you will receive honors or even recognition from your country, but receive this for your self-less service: I, your spectator, commend you, sir. When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for you to dissolve the bands which have connected you with another, and to assume among the powers of a Jeep owner, the separate and equal station to which the laws entitle you, a decent respect to your opinion requires that you should declare the causes which impel you.
And by doing so, sir, you’ve proven yourself a true patriot. For that, I thank you.