License Plates: A Window to the Soul


Obviously, this is a mess. I mean, the global war on terrorism has been, by most estimates, a complete disaster. A hugely expensive and destructive and demoralizing war, a war on civil liberties, government reports that Americans aren’t any safer, so on and so forth.But since I lived in Oklahoma City for four years, I know that “terrorism” was a little more real to them than, say, the good folks of eastern New Mexico. After all, the first significant act of terrorism in the US wasn’t 9/11, it was the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

I moved there the next year, only to discover that people talked about it in the same way that people in the San Francisco Bay Area talked about the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. They told the same kinds of stories: where they were; what it sounded like; their connection to people who were killed, or escaped harm by some coincidence.

But in so many other ways, those two places are worlds apart. When gas prices started rising in 2000 or so, people in the Bay Area were furious at oil companies (who were posting record profits). People in Oklahoma were furious at government (apparently for taxing gasoline for the same amount as before).

Yet Oklahoma is still one of the most patriotic places in the country. If you don’t believe me, go check out all the other license plates that are for sale. There are more than 144 of them!!


  • 36 plates for colleges and universities
  • 37-ish military-related ones
  • 36 NASCAR plates

Other noteworthy ones: Adoption Creates Families; Choose Life; National Rifle Association; Patriot.

Noteworthy absences: The Trail of Tears; The Tulsa Race Riot.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.


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