My Cowboys have always been Heroes
That might seem a strange title coming from a half-breed Cherokee kid from Appalachia, but I guess if Willie Nelson - my favorite Cherokee - can write it, then I can mess it up. I grew up in a household that believed in the Good Guys. My parents were Christian, but not so much they couldn't have fun, and to this day their home entertainment centers on Westerns, Rodeos and Andy Griffith reruns. The only movie the two of them have watched in its entirety in the last thirty years was O Brother, Where Art Thou;. My point is, as radical as I am in most of my opinions, I DO understand "Good People" from "the Heartland". The highest compliment my Dad ever gives is to call someone "one of the Good Guys". I also have issues with Racism and Colonialism and the outright neglect and disrespect directed at people of Appalachia, indigenous peoples here and around the world, and non-Christians here and everywhere, but that's for other posts. Right now, I want to say, when the tall man in the white hat rides into town, I get it.
When did "Cowboy" start to be a pejorative term? I hear that Hollywood is a "Cowboy Town" and that means they don't like gays, so my favorite show Queer As Folk will never get its props from the Emmys or otherwise and the amazingly talented actors will have trouble getting other work. That sucks. So Cowboys must hate Queers, though I remember growing up hearing that a lot of cowboys WERE queer. Being on a cattle drive for months at a time with no women anywhere was most attractive to men who didn't require the company of women on a regular basis. Guess somebody forgot to tell John Wayne.
Then we hear that George W. Bush is a "Cowboy Politician". He definitely is NOT a hero. He is, in fact, reckless, stupid, greedy, a religious zealot and a fascist. Not exactly Wyatt Earp, if you ask me. Wyatt was a Law Man. Yeah, he had his faults, but he did enforce the law. He didn't steal from poor children to make his rich buddies richer. He didn't kill innocent civilians to fill his pockets. He didn't have delusions of grandeur, a megalomaniacal need to rule the world, or a habit of lying that is so persistent it can only have origins in pathology. When Wyatt drew a gun, he was the one holding it. He wasn't hiding behind a bunch of poor young soldiers; he didn't shift the blame to people who've served the country loyally for their entire careers; I don't have to buy into the myth completely to think he'd probably be damn sure you had a gun before he shot you (or invaded your country, for that matter).
I want the press to stop stroking this evil son of a Bush's ego by calling him a Cowboy. He's from Connecticut, for Goddess' sake! He went to Yale, not Texas A&M. I've known real cowboys. They're tough. If they get called to serve in the military, they show up ready to fight. They might drink too much or chew tobacco, but they don't refuse to take physicals to hide a cocaine habit, and they don't desert their posts. A Cowboy is patriotic; he'd give his life to defend the freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution: the right to worship as we choose; the right to say what we think; the right to disagree; the right to protest; the right to a free press. How many episodes of Bonanza were there about newspapers trying to tell the truth about corrupt government officials in some cow town? I've seen several. The good guys always side with the Press. Secrecy and Censorship are the tools of the corrupt and the dishonest. How many Gunsmoke's are there about Temperance? It never works out. The fact is, there is no bootlegging - or drug trade - without prohibition. If a Cowboy wants whiskey - or a little weed for that matter - the government and the church aren't going to stop him. If you don't want to drink, that's up to you. Just don't try to tell a Cowboy what to do.
That's why a Cowboy minds his own business. He doesn't feel the need to go around making everyone else do things his way. He's got work to do, and whatever it is, he'll do it as well as he can. Somebody needs to sit W. down and make him watch Professional Bull Riding. You want to see macho? Look at a man in a flack jacket about to get on a 1500 pound bull that will kill him if it can. That's tough with a capital T. I'm not going to get into the moral aspects of rodeo right now - that's what PETA is for. I'm talking about determination. I'm talking about the strength of will that makes a man look at that huge, angry beast in that chute and say "I'm gonna ride that thing." W. thinks that he's displaying that same determination by "staying the course" in Iraq. What he hasn't figured out yet, is that a tough guy knows when to let go. Yeah, he climbed on the bull, but when he gets thrown off or his 8 seconds is up, he runs like hell to get out of the ring. He may be tough, but he's not stupid. At this point, W's got his arm caught in the rope. The ride is over, man. Just let the clowns - or in this case, the U.N. - cut you loose and go home. You blew the buckle, staying in there now will only get you hurt. The whistle has been blown.