So I’m driving down the 405 in West Los Angeles, thinking about how I can’t exist while others who believe differently from me exist, when I see it – a blue bumpersticker on the back of a Prius with the letters of the word “COEXIST” replaced by a variety of religious symbols. Whoa. I’d never thought of just, you know, coexisting. Thank you, mystery middle-aged hybrid-driving guy with a goatee, for stripping off my mental blinders and allowing me, for the first time, to truly see a future of love and tolerance.
Funny thing, though. I don’t remember seeing any COEXIST bumperstickers – much less love or tolerance – when I was deployed to the Middle East. And I sure don’t remember any in the ethnically cleansed villages of southeast Kosovo. But I wasn’t really looking then since I was pretty busy actually doing something about hate and intolerance instead of just striking concerned poses.
COEXIST bumperstickers represent more than just the obnoxious posturing of self-important twits – although the obnoxious posturing of self-important twits is a huge component of what they represent. These public statements represent the kind of dangerously parochial, ethnocentric mindset that conservatives are often labeled with, except this mindset is the mantra of the transnational liberal/left. It is a mindset that sees the “intolerance” of the West as the real root cause of conflict, and imagines that if we can just get beyond our own myriad flaws all will be well. What this mindset does not appreciate – what it almost willfully ignores – is that all those groups represented by all those symbols making up the COEXIST design are not the same, do not share the same values, and in many cases have absolutely zero interest at all in coexisting.
You can find something of the history of the COEXIST design in the “religious intolerance” section of something called suite101.com – its catchphrase, “Insightful writers. Informed Readers,” captures perfectly the kind of dreary pretension you’d expect from people who use the back of their ride to lecture lesser mortals.
Apparently, the COEXIST design originally came from Polish artist Piotr Mlodozeniec, whoever that is. At first, it incorporated only the Islamic crescent, the Star of David and the Cross for the C, X and T. Later modifications added a yin and yang for the S, while the O, E, and I are replaced with peace signs, mathematical equations or various “pagan/Wiccan symbols.” This would appear to demonstrate a fearless rejection of the anti-Taoist, peacenik, mathematician and pagan/Wiccan prejudices that are tearing our society apart.
Sometimes the letter E is replaced with a hybrid male/female symbol, apparently to chide those who refuse to tolerate males and/or females and/or both. It’s probably unfashionable to mention that the folks with a big problem with one particular gender and the LGBT community in general are mostly clustered within one of the symbols toward the beginning of the COEXIST design.
A variety of companies, groups and commie collectives generate their own versions of the “COEXIST” design on mugs, shirts and lame man-purses as well as the ubiquitous bumperstickers. One big provider is peacemonger.org, which also sells an Obama inauguration version where the O is replaced with that creepy circular Obamafanatic symbol and the caption reads “In Love and Peace – Dreams Come True.” This treasured keepsake will set you back $3. Also available on the same page is a sticker featuring a grinning Obama, complete with dreadlocks, rampant upon a rasta-riffic green-red-yellowish background, bearing the legend “Inhale to the Cheif (sic).” Yeah, “Chief” is misspelled. Blame it on the bong hits.
U2 used COEXIST as a central image during its Vertigo tour. No surprise that a hackneyed, clichéd band far past its prime would glom onto a hackneyed, clichéd symbol that represents a past-its-prime mindset that should have faded away in about 1971 along with flower children, Jefferson Airplane and the non-ironic use of the word “groovy.”
The problem with COEXIST is not just the irritation generated by the college-town posers, limo lib pseudo-sophisticates and pompous rock gods who have adopted it, though it really is annoying to be on the receiving end of a one-word lecture from people whose experience in the world outside their cloistered enclaves consists largely of staring down upon it from 767s as they jet between LAX and JFK. It is that a significant number of people take to heart the unspoken assumptions that underlie the COEXIST symbol. And worse, right now some of those people are running the United States’ foreign policy.
The COEXIST symbol represents an ideology that imagines that the very real conflicts in the world are not the result of difficult, often irreconcilable beliefs and interests but are instead generated because we Westerners are just not tolerant enough of others. Sound familiar? This is why the enlightened few share this powerful message through the medium of tailgates and concerts not with the people in places where, you know, people actually aren’t coexisting but with citizens in the bluest corners of a country famous for coexistence.
Of course, you won’t find COEXIST on the back of some car rolling through Gaza or Tehran or Peshawar or Pyongyang because the locals there largely don’t want to coexist. They want to prevail – in the end, it would be they who would exist and we wouldn’t, unless we decided to submit, in which case we might be allowed to keep drawing breath if we do what we’re told. Maybe. For a little while.
The COEXIST mindset is actually condescending not only to those of us being lectured but to those we are being instructed to coexist with. The COEXIST mindset assumes we can all just sit down over a steaming cup of cruelty-free, organically farmed chai and talk out our differences because at the root there really are no differences, just misunderstandings.
But deep down, someone with a COEXIST bumpersticker does not really understand that many people actually believe what their religions teach, and often those beliefs do not include coexisting with adherents of other beliefs. You can sub in a crescent for the C in COEXIST if you want, but if that jihadi gets a hold of you he’s still going to lop off your noggin while you’re in mid-cliché and hold it up for the video camera by the pony-tail. And you’ll die thinking “Wait, you mean he really believes that stuff?”
We can see the results of this kind of thinking – or, more accurately, projecting – in the American elite’s attitude toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israeli position, made clear in public statements and through actions, is that they would be happy to coexist with their neighbors in peace and prosperity. The Palestinian position, made clear in public statements and through actions, is that they want all the Jews dead or driven out.
This sort of makes compromise difficult for the Israelis, but since the Israelis are more associated with the West our elite naturally blames them for the impasse. The COEXIST mindset adopts the demonstrably false notion that what the Palestinians actually say and do must be ignored in favor of embracing the assumption that they really think like us, that they don’t really mean any of that crazy talk about driving the surviving Jews into the sea. This is why the current Administration seems to see Israel as the obstacle to peace instead of seeing the real obstacle to peace – the Palestinians and their scummy leaders – as the obstacle to peace.
And it’s even worse with regard to Iran. They don’t even try to hide their goals and the elites simply wish them away in favor of a fantasy of coexistence. Sadly, the American troops getting killed and maimed by Iranian IEDs don’t have that luxury.
Of course, only the elite buys this nonsense – most Americans, who have been in a schoolyard fistfight or two, feel the Israelis are right to prioritize continuing to “exist” over submitting in order to “coexist.” But it’s those gun and God-clinging ignoramuses that the COEXIST bumperstickers are designed to enlighten anyway. The guy who has cluttered the chrome on his Toyota with one is not who needs to be told to coexist. It’s the rest of us knuckledraggers who need to be taught to expand our consciousnesses by our chardonnay-sipping betters.
Interestingly, our elite hybrid-hugging overlords do not feel any need to coexist with us. Our beliefs need not be respected – in fact, they must be belittled and changed. The very same tolerance-pushing website that gives us COEXIST’s history also provides an appreciation of the “Darwin fish.” Somehow, I doubt they’d be quite as quick to talk up the awesomeness of a symbol designed to insult Taoists or “pagan/Wiccans,” and I know they’d never try that with a Muslim symbol. They’re stupid, but not suicidal.
The pretension of some sanctimonious nimrod with a self-righteous bumpersticker is mildly annoying. The infiltration of that mindset into the highest reaches of our foreign policy establishment is quite another matter, and the consequences are potentially apocalyptic. You cannot wish away the fact that we have enemies in this world, enemies who are as serious about defeating us as we should be about defeating them.
There is nothing wrong with “coexisting” – Americans have done it for centuries in a manner that is the envy of the world. The problem is the people who are not interested in coexistence – and it’s not some tiresome bumpersticker that we’ll need to stop them.