June 1, 2007


The Cowboy Way (Larry Thornberry, 6/1/2007, American Spectator)

Articles and retrospective TV specials surrounding the centennial of John Wayne's birth last week reminded me of those folks who call George W. Bush and Republicans "cowboys," and are dumb enough to think that's an insult.

The cowboy, according to the side-saddle-riding elites, was a violent, sadistic, racist, environment-stabbing, Indian-hating, tobacco-chewing, beer-swilling, mouth-breathing, low-forehead lout. But the joke is on the latte-breath idlers who misjudge the cowpuncher (a few of whom, defense stipulates, may have deserved one or two items from the above list). There could not be a worse misreading of the cowboy myth, and by eyewitness accounts, a good deal of the reality.

The people who use "cowboy" as an insult, many of them elected officials, don't seem to be aware that far more Americans like cowboys than like politicians. The country would probably be better off if W and other elected officials were more like the guys who flocked from all over the US of A, Europe, and other parts to take the low-paying, brutally hard job of punching doggies in the American West from about 1870 almost to the 20th century (yes, a short period in history for all that myth, but there it is).

They were a various lot, these cowboys, but most who observed them during that period reported that they tended toward reserved, courteous, quiet, uncomplaining, hospitable, trustworthy, forthright, fearless, tough, hearty, and loyal. They were smart and resourceful or they didn't survive the pre-safety net West. They were able and willing to bear hardships and to work long hours under Spartan conditions (no time and a half for more than eight hours in a day -- no mental health days). They expressed themselves economically, and often with a dry, earthy, and cynical humor.

That culture endures, it's just filled by Mexican immigrants.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 1, 2007 12:00 AM

Interesting comments, too.

Posted by: Sandy P at June 1, 2007 10:48 AM

I do believe the cowboys distained claim jumping and claim jumpers, and fought at the drop of a hat if someone cut into line in front of them.

Also, as noted, the welfare state did not exist back then or in that area. And it was the Black Hats who ran off without paying the Doctor after getting patched up.

Agreed, however, that the current American culture is not at all cowboy: REAL cowboys would shoot the litterers and trespassers of their lands, regardless of race, nationality, or religious belief.

Posted by: Ptah at June 1, 2007 11:29 AM

Ah, the delusion that the cowboys were native to the land. Classic!

Posted by: oj at June 1, 2007 2:38 PM

Whoever suggested that cowboys were other than trekkers-forth? They were never implied to have been autochtonic. Let that lie be reserved to the so-called, self-proclaimed "native" Americans.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 1, 2007 6:55 PM