Not sure how I feel about this very American expression of homeowner rage:
It’s undeniable that the recession has unleashed anger across the nation. And that anger’s rapidly devolving into madness. From Joe Stack’s flight into an IRS building to Terry Hoskins, the man who bulldozed his house ahead of foreclosure, seemingly average Americans are lashing out in crazy ways. While Stack’s attack qualifies as the most dramatic outburst, the Hoskins incident, hardly isolated, provides a far more telling glimpse into the ways the economic crisis has soured, and scorched, the American dream.
Owning a home once ranked as the primary goal in the American experience. It was the pinnacle of national striving and homes were icons. Now, as millions face foreclosure, that dream has turned into a nightmare. At his wit’s end about a potential foreclosure, and undoubtedly angry with the bank, Ohio man Terry Hoskins decided to take matters into his own hands and destroy his home. “When I see I owe $160,000 on a home valued at $350,000, and someone decides they want to take it — no, I wasn’t going to stand for that, so I took it down,” explained Hoskins. It’s a compelling tale, one that gives a face to universal public frustration. It’s also turned Hoskins into something of a hero.
Scores of people are praising Hoskins’ middle finger to big business. That’s not surprising. It was, after all, a somewhat charming way to get back at the bank. Rush Limbaugh called his and Stack’s actions “defiance.” Neighbors and sympathizers have started a website to collect donations for Hoskins, who still owes the bank and IRS hundreds of thousands, and may lose his business. Local businesses are showing their support by selling t-shirts and hats that depict a bulldozer and read “Take ‘Er Down.” It’s unclear if “‘er” means the banks, the government, or just foreclosed homes. A sympathetic singer, meanwhile, has written a ballad about Hoskins.
It doesn’t matter to many that Hoskins insists he didn’t do it to “stick it to the man.” He unwittingly embodies public anger, and the public likes to see a mirror image. Though Hoskins gained widespread exposure for his antics, he’s hardly the only American taking drastic steps to avoid foreclosure. He’s just the most flamboyant and, therefore, spellbinding.