What has happened to our cowboys?
News item summary: A “rancher” named Bundy has been grazing his cattle for free on federal land for 20 years. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has taken him to court a number of times trying to collect. The fees, by the way are incredibly cheap. The BLM charges $1.35 per animal per month. Try to feed a cow for that. (Private businesses charge $10-28 per month for the same grazing rights) But this cheat refuses to pay. And when, after 20 years and court cases the BLM finally did come to take his cattle, he called on his cowboy friends relatives to take up arms. And the BLM backed down. For now.
I am not even going to bother with whether or not this guy is legally entitled to use land that does not belong to him. The courts are clear. He doesn’t. And his claim that he does not recognize the “authority of the US government” may give him a leg to stand on in an insanity plea. But not good for much else. I prefer to focus on another aspect of the case. Cowboys and how they have changed.
Those who support Bundy with their guns and philosophy present themselves as heroes. Tough talking hombres. A couple cowpokes I saw on camera said they were ready to “give their lives”. Give their lives so a guy who Romney would describe as “wanting something for nothing” could continue to mooch off the government. OK. I guess that is worth dying for.
Or, well, maybe not give MY life, exactly, but somebody’s.
As the story unfolded a former Arizona sheriff, Richard Mack , talked to Fox News (sic) about the strategy he intended to use. I am NOT making this up. Mack said that if things heated up the Bundy faction intended to put women in front of the men. Unarmed women. To be used as shields. To take fire from the federal “rogue agents”. To be casualties. This would prove just how evil the federal government was. Can’t argue with that “reasoning”. The cowboys would hide behind a human shield. What has happened to our cowboys?
Maybe it is time to remake some of those old westerns I watched as a kid. Try this: “Shootout at the Nevada Chicken Ranch”, starring John Wayne and Clint Eastwood.
John Wayne: Well,pardner, I see the evil Land Management Goons are coming to try to take away our grazin rights. Gonna meet em at 12 noon at the Nutcase Corral for the big shootout.”
Clint Eastwood: (spits) There’s 10 of them and only 2 of us. But I’m a willin’ to die so Uncle Buck can continue to graze his 7 herd of longhorns for free. How about you?
JW:Hmmmm…. I know a better way out of this mess. How many womenfolk do you have?
CE: Well, there’s my wife, Lilly Sue and daughter, Rosey Sue and the baby. Aunt Gertrude and my niece Mandy Sue. That’s it.
JW: Well, lemmee see. I have my sister Honey Sue and she has 4 little uns, Sue Sue, Gunna Sue, Wanna Sue and Lets Sue. There is my Aunt Nelly and Aunt Kate. Oh…don’t forget Granny Grumplin. If we can git her started in her walker she’ll be fine. Hardly ever falls over. We can prop her up if needs be.
CE: Well,what’s yer plan?
JW: Here it is, pardner. We’ll git all those womenfolk down there and stand them up between us and the feds. Then, when the shootin starts we’ll have good cover. Reminds me, how about the Pork Belly twins? Seen them around?
CE: I…I…don’t know, pardner. That jest don’t seem right. To use the womenfolk like that. It ain’t manly. It ain’t the cowboy way. It’s kind of cowardly, ain’t it?
JW: Aw, go on pardner.Times are changin. This is a deadly situation. And you know what they always say. If there’s trouble it’s always “women and children first”.
Cowboys just ain’t what they used to be.