A Simple Bumper Sticker Reveals An Extreme Culture of Hate

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This is a test. When you see this bumper sticker, how does it make you feel?

Since social media has become politically exhausting, I felt nostalgic for the simpler days when we only had bumper stickers to express our enthusiasm for voting. Last week, I got a “Biden/Harris 2020” bumper sticker and took a road trip to Big Bear for the weekend. As I was driving the mountain roads, a white BMW started tailgating me. I thought I might be going too slow, so I sped up. The car stayed on me. Just as I started to worry, I saw fifty cars or more stopped in front of me and backed up all the way up the mountain. “It must be an accident,” I said to my daughter just as I heard the man in the BMW behind me violently screaming. He pulled up to the side of my car yelling profanities about, you guessed it — my bumper sticker! My husband (who was conveniently hidden in the back seat by tinted windows) said, “He is out of his mind. Don’t engage with him. Just look forward”. My daughter was in the front with me and immediately put her headphones on. He viciously yelled that my bumper sticker was a very X Rated word. He said crazy sexist, ridiculous and hateful stuff about Harris and highly offensive homophobic slurs about Biden. He kept saying over and over I am a “liberal b*****” and I should be ashamed for voting. I mean his hate and anger went on and on and were shocking and scary. The traffic didn’t move and he had been yelling straight for 10 minutes. He pulled up next to my window begging me to respond. I am not super confrontational — if you know me at all. I shrunk in my seat. Then, he became quiet. When I slowly peeked into my mirror, he stepped out of his car and began peeing all over the road. I snapped a photo! I really could NOT believe it. Thank goodness, the traffic began to move and we lost him. But please, let me ask this — why is this overweight balding middle age white man so insanely mad that I am voting for Biden? He is not being shot at by police because of the color of his skin. He is not being paid less or denied a promotion because he is a woman. He is not being told he doesn’t belong in this country. He is not dying of Covid in the hospital like thousands of others right now. He has the right to carry a gun and probably does. Is he really that pissed at me for having a Biden/Harris bumper sticker? Maybe he doesn’t like affordable health care or our environment or getting along with other nations or women’s rights but I would not harass him or scream at him or assault him. I had to share. It is important to tell our stories of this weird new political hate when they happen. Maybe it can help change things. Maybe not. Either way, if you need one more reason to help you decide who to vote for — think about this President Trump, knowingly or unknowingly, has created a culture of hate in America. He has given racist, sexist, homophobic and sexist and racist bullies some sort of entitlement to express their hate without consequence. Trump is a bully himself and thus, by example, promotes harassing behavior in others who see themselves in him. If I took literally one drive in my car with a Biden/Harris bumper sticker and got harassed by a total stranger — what else is happening? We need a moral compass from the White House, so we can shift the culture back to one of acceptance and tolerance. We must call out haters and we must continue to vote our voice. That is our basic right.

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Kendall Rhodes is Founder /CEO of the Paraluman Media, a mgmt and production company in LA. She approaches problems as a process of discovery and change.

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