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The Cowboy Myth
FrontPageMagazine.com ^ | April 12, 2002 | Bruce Thornton

Posted on 04/12/2002 6:13:23 AM PDT by Mr. Thorne

ANTI-AMERICANISM EMPLOYS A SET OF CLICHÉS as predictable and stale as the conventions of supermarket romance. Every time, for example, the United States acts forcefully abroad to protect its interests, you can bet the farm some pencil-neck in America or Europe will whip out the charge that America once more is acting like a "cowboy."

This charge is usually tossed off with the smug assurance that acting like a cowboy is about the most horrible thing one could do. The ignorant masses might think that the cowboy myth is about qualities such as the courage to risk one's life for one's convictions or to protect others, but what do those oafs know, brainwashed as they are by movies and ads? The right-thinking elites know the real score--the cowboy is the racist enforcer of manifest destiny, a sadistic, genocidal thug, probably a repressed homosexual, and the mythic peddler of cigarettes and pickup trucks and other proletarian accessories.

This misreading of the cowboy myth of course reflects the world-view of what the cowboy himself would call a "tinhorn" or a "tenderfoot," those usually Eastern city-boys who are unable for whatever reason to use violence when violence is necessary to stop evil. Sometimes the tenderfoot is merely a coward who camouflages timidity with principle. Other times he's a naïve idealist who thinks that the protocols of civilized justice and reasoned debate will work in the Darwinian world of the frontier, even though there the rudimentary social structures are themselves either ineffective or corrupt.

The constant theme of the cowboy myth is that such idealism is dangerous, for force is always the tragic choice necessary for destroying evil and protecting civilization. Nor is this choice simple: in the best movie westerns, the cowboy understands that his willingness to use force to protect civilized innocence is itself uncivilized and creates a moral burden, which he must accept and bear. As Alan Ladd says in Shane, "There's no living with a killing."

As such, the cowboy myth is one of the last great expressions of the tragic view of life increasingly absent in our therapeutic world, but necessary now more than ever. We have instead adopted a weird hybrid of Enlightenment and Romantic myths that tells us people are basically good and rational, and only behave destructively because an unjust and oppressive society robs them of self-esteem and causes them to "act out." Reform society, offer therapeutic, esteem-building solace through psychological technique and sensitivity, and then we can create the utopia in which everybody is happy, evil is banished, violence disappears, and all problems are solved through reasoned discourse.

The cowboy knows better. He knows that some people are evil, and their evil afflicts the innocent. Maybe they have an excuse for their evil, maybe they don't, or maybe they're just no damn good, but ultimately what matters is keeping that evil from destroying the good. Reason, law, appeals to morality ultimately cut no ice with the bad guy. He respects only one thing-- overwhelming, devastating and, usually, lethal force. Since the legal and social structures for applying force and judging evil are usually ineffective or corrupt, that force has to be applied by the man (or the woman, like Grace Kelly at the end of High Noon) who is willing to kill for the right.

Our modern tinhorns and tenderfeet, those intellectual deconstructors of every mythology save their own, scorn the cowboy as simplistic. His "good" and "evil" are old-fashioned concepts modern psychological science has shown to be no more real than fairy tales. His dependence on force is crude and primitive, and ultimately more noxious than the evil against which he fights. Better, like the intellectual in his universe of words and ideas, to rely on talk, negotiation, persuasion, and all those other confabs in which the verbal adept shines.

This belief in talking evil out of its evil ways strikes me as peculiar, and one certainly not supported by the evidence of 20th century history. The two great totalitarian threats to human freedom, fascism and communism--whose collective tally of dead is at least 150 million people-- were stopped by force or the threat of force. It was Hitler after all who scorned the GI's landing at Normandy as "cowboys" his panzers would quickly teach a lesson. The next time some Eurocrat sneers about American "cowboys," he should remember that if not for those "cowboys" Europe wouldn't even exist today.

Talk can work with those who respect talk, who share a common tradition of democratic values and rational discourse. It can work with those who don't respect talk if talk is backed up by a believable threat of force. But talk fails utterly with those who scorn negotiation and give-and-take as evidence of weakness. With such people talk merely provides the cover for their aggression and emboldens them into thinking their use of force will succeed. As Jimmy Stewart--the idealistic Easterner who wants to counter evil with reasoned law in John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence-- finally learns, "When force threatens, talk is no good."

Again, talk can work when validated by sufficiently deterrent force. But ever since Vietnam, our talk has not been so validated, with the exception of Reagan's build up of potential force that brought the Soviet Union to its knees. Elsewhere we threatened and blustered, we negotiated and bribed, we dickered and haggled, but the message was clear: America will blink and stay its hand. It took the most devastating attack on American soil finally to rouse us from our therapeutic slumber and wake us up to a hard world filled with evil people who need not to be talked to, but killed before they kill others.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: antiamericanism; cowboy; elitism; evil; libertyvalance; michaeldobbs; shane
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There's another comment that comes to mind: inter armes, silent leges, "In the face of arms, the law is silent."

All the talk of law and peaceful discourse will not stop an armed barbarian. He wants, for whatever reason, what you have, and will take it by force.

1 posted on 04/12/2002 6:13:23 AM PDT by Mr. Thorne
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To: Mr. Thorne
This charge is usually tossed off with the smug assurance that acting like a cowboy is about the most horrible thing one could do.

Europeans don't understand that to real Americans that is a compliment. They should hear what we say about them ---but then maybe they take that to be a compliment.

2 posted on 04/12/2002 6:20:27 AM PDT by FITZ
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To: Mr. Thorne
The cowboy is...probably a repressed homosexual

Hate to say that I used to believe this. Maybe it was that guy in the Village People.

Why is the left is always talking about "Eurocentrism" when it is the Europeans who are always launching the left-wing schemes they only dream they can launch at home?

3 posted on 04/12/2002 6:24:27 AM PDT by Clemenza
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To: Mr. Thorne
Why did he use movie actors as examples of "cowboys"?
4 posted on 04/12/2002 6:24:28 AM PDT by AzJP
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To: FITZ
?i?This charge is usually tossed off with the smug assurance that acting like a cowboy is about the most horrible thing one could do. ?/i??p? I always feel a sense of pride when GW is called a cowboy by the media or euroweenies. Maybe what we really need are more cowboys in this world.
5 posted on 04/12/2002 6:27:57 AM PDT by ladtx
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To: Mr. Thorne
I remember watching a movie (can't think of the name of it now), wherein Sean Connery plays a Russion Sub captain who is plotting to defect to the U.S.  In there, he is hoping that the U.S. sub commander is a "cowboy."  My opinion is that he was hoping that his opposite number would use his head for something other than a hat rack.
6 posted on 04/12/2002 6:32:47 AM PDT by Frumious Bandersnatch
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To: Mr. Thorne
...and the mythic peddler of cigarettes and pickup trucks and other proletarian accessories.

How about those "evil" guns - what self-respecting cowboy doesn't have at least 2 (one on the belt, one in an ankle holster), and probably a third (rifle in the saddle or pickup gun rack)? To me, this is the essence of the cowboy - the willingness to use force against evil, which the moral relativists decry.

The political equivalent of a cowboy (as well as the real thing earlier in life) was Teddy Roosevelt. During his presidency, nobody challenged us, as they knew that he'd respond as a cowboy. Compare with a contemporary and rival of his, Woodrow Wilson, probably the archtypical "tenderfoot." He so studiously tried to avoid war by being passive and peaceful (i.e. anti-cowboy), that we got ourselves into WW1 at a cost of some 300,000 dead.

The world despises the American cowboy because he represents American strength and resolve. They wish us to be like Wilson, weak and indeceisive, so that they can commit their aggressions with impunity. Bush is, so far, about 3/4 cowboy. The other quarter has begun to leak away in the last couple of weeks.

7 posted on 04/12/2002 6:46:45 AM PDT by Ancesthntr
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To: thud
ping
8 posted on 04/12/2002 6:54:38 AM PDT by Dark Wing
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To: Mr. Thorne
The cowboy knows better. He knows that some people are evil, and their evil afflicts the innocent. Maybe they have an excuse for their evil, maybe they don't, or maybe they're just no damn good, but ultimately what matters is keeping that evil from destroying the good.

Now that's just good old fashioned common sense. I can picture John Wayne saying it.

One has to wonder if European intellectuals fear the cowboy because they instinctively understand that they're likely to end up on the wrong end of his gun for the evil they do, or at least the evil they desire to do in the name of "noble" ends.

9 posted on 04/12/2002 6:55:02 AM PDT by Snuffington
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To: Mr. Thorne
Cowboy Up! Good post, Mr. Thorne. Let the Eurotrash & city boys call us Cowboys - it's a compliment, thankyouverymuch!
10 posted on 04/12/2002 6:56:40 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: AzJP
I should imagine because it's the only way most anyone has ever seen a cowboy. Both in Europe and America.

Closest I ever got was an old neighbor of ours. He raised cattle, so I guess he qualified. Taught me how to use a bullwhip. Well, crack one, anyway. But AJ was good; he could do the 'cigarette out of the mouth' bit (if he could find a volunteer). Me, I'm lucky if I hit what I'm aiming at...

11 posted on 04/12/2002 7:00:02 AM PDT by Mr. Thorne
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To: Frumious Bandersnatch
That was The Hunt for Red October, which wasn't butchered the was Sum of All Fears has been.
12 posted on 04/12/2002 7:00:57 AM PDT by warped
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To: Snuffington;*all
I've had a minor inspiration...

How about shame as a motivating factor? What's the idealized 'gunfighter' movie? Lot's of good guys with no guns and/or guts, one man with a lotta both.

So how does that make the 'good guys' feel? Grateful? Sure, at first, but then they think that maybe old so-and-so wouldn't have gotten shot if the hero hadn't intervened. After all, life wasn't all that bad before...

I think it's a big 'ol case of 'we realize we're weak and innefectual, but we've spent decades telling ourselves this is the way to be'.

Then here we come and start kicking butt. Why couldn't anyone else have done it? Because they're better at appeasement than confrontation, and they know it. But they don't like being reminded of it!

IMHO, of course.

13 posted on 04/12/2002 7:06:21 AM PDT by Mr. Thorne
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To: ladtx
Maybe what we really need are more cowboys in this world.

As the daughter of a real cowboy, I definitely agree. Cowboys understand right & wrong. They believe in disipline & hard work, standing up for friends, respecting the land, being self-sufficient, helping those in need, & acknowledging a loving God who is greater than all of us.

Yep, I can see how that would be an insult.

14 posted on 04/12/2002 7:06:33 AM PDT by Reagan's_Mom
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To: FITZ
I really don't think the French could see anything I say about them as a compliment...

= )

15 posted on 04/12/2002 7:08:21 AM PDT by Mr. Thorne
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To: Mr. Thorne
"Sometimes the tenderfoot is merely a coward who camouflages timidity with principle. Other times he's a naïve idealist who thinks that[AND] the protocols of civilized justice and reasoned debate will work in the Darwinian world of the frontier, even though{USING THE EXCUSE THAT] there the rudimentary social structures are themselves either ineffective or corrupt."

There. Just a minor correction to an otherwise excellent and insightful commentary.

I don't fear my neighbor: I'm a better shot than he is.

16 posted on 04/12/2002 7:09:35 AM PDT by cake_crumb
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To: Ancesthntr
How many did Josey Wales carry? Three pistols and a rifle?

Well, you gonna draw those guns or whistle Dixie?

17 posted on 04/12/2002 7:10:09 AM PDT by Mr. Thorne
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To: Mr. Thorne
Anybody know how all this "Eurotrash" talk snuck in here?

Hitler was one, but he was the only one mentioned.

If it weren't for European (and other foreign) tourists, we'd have a lot less money and a lot fewer tourists in Arizona.

Monument Valley, rafting the Canyon, jeeping Chelly, Hopi Mesa, Europeans outnumber Americans two to one or better. And usually, Europeans get higher marks for NOT leaving trash, NOT throwing rocks at just anything, NOT bringing boomboxes, and FOR asking intelligent questions. Some of those Europeans tell me they've planned to see the Canyon, or other sites for two, three years. And we've got locals in Phoenix and Tucson living here for a lifetime that have never seen the Canyon. Probably just as well, as the most common aerovac out of the Canyon are American yuppies.

Just one opinion, just my opinion, but I'd much rather deal with German, or Kiwi, or Irish tourists than Californians or New Yorkers.

And, sir, there are still old timers in Arizona who aren't too fond of Roosevelt. Either of 'em. Now mention Barry Goldwater, and now you're talking about a real man.

Bred, born, life, and I sure hope I'll die in, Arizona

18 posted on 04/12/2002 7:13:18 AM PDT by AzJP
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To: ladtx
"I always feel a sense of pride when GW is called a cowboy by the media or euroweenies."

Me too. And I LOVED the statement he made to the press while wearing a Carhart jacket covered with horse manure, which he had been shoveling. And...OH, how about the time he went to pick Putin and his wife up...WITH his own 4WD truck, WHICH he was driving with his OWN two hands...he mentioned to reporters that he and the Russian president were gonna go out and do some four-wheelin' on the ranch. Then they were gonna barbeque. Every time I hear a EUroweenie or EUroweenie wannabe cal him a "cowboy", I think of those incidents with pride and admiration.

I LOVE THIS GUY. Like I said before: if we both weren't already married, I'd propose to him. GO PRESIDENT GEORGE "COWBOY" BUSH!!

19 posted on 04/12/2002 7:18:48 AM PDT by cake_crumb
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To: Mr. Thorne
Cowboy UP, America!
20 posted on 04/12/2002 7:35:00 AM PDT by Jason Gade
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Comment #21 Removed by Moderator

To: Mr. Thorne
Let the Cheese eating, surrender monkeys in euroland whine. They gave up the right to speak with Chamberlin @ the Munich pact. They are merely along for the ride...when they put TROOPS on the ground or clean up their mess in the Balkans then they can lecture the USA

by the way whenever they start to make noise- just flash the pict of the Swastika flying over the Eiffel Tower. Only the Brits and Turks have true grit now

22 posted on 04/12/2002 7:41:54 AM PDT by Nat Turner
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To: AzJP
Europeans are 95% effeminate socialists. Down here in South Florida, we get Germans, French (Canadian and European) along with South Americans. I can take their money, but not their attitude.

Besides, have you actually ever KNOWN any Frenchmen or Italians (from the other side)? Mama's boys bigtime!

23 posted on 04/12/2002 7:45:43 AM PDT by Clemenza
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To: Nat Turner
Only the Brits

This is particularly true of the Scots and the Welsh. I must say, however, that Poofy Tony the Englishman has been quite the water carrier for us.

24 posted on 04/12/2002 7:47:51 AM PDT by Clemenza
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To: Nat Turner
Fill your hand you sonofabitch!

R.J. Cogburn
U.S. Marshall

= )

25 posted on 04/12/2002 7:49:24 AM PDT by Mr. Thorne
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Comment #26 Removed by Moderator

To: Clemenza
Yes, I lived in France for a while, took a university class in Dublin, and traveled all over, including Italy, especially Como.

From my real life experiences in Europe, I disagree with your estimate of effiminates and socialists.
But you might be an expert on effiminates and socialists.

Hey, you use the movie Godfather as background? Another 100% real world reference.

27 posted on 04/12/2002 7:58:26 AM PDT by AzJP
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To: Nat Turner; Mr. Thorne
Only the Brits and Turks have true grit now.

True Grit. That's a good movie. Contending for the number one scene in all westerns is the picture of The Duke charging the bad guys by himself with the reigns in his teeth and both guns blazing.

"Fill your hands, you S@n of a B%*ch !"

28 posted on 04/12/2002 7:58:40 AM PDT by HeadOn
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To: Mr. Thorne
bump
29 posted on 04/12/2002 7:58:59 AM PDT by foreverfree
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To: Mr. Thorne
Ya beat me to it! See post 28.
30 posted on 04/12/2002 8:00:26 AM PDT by HeadOn
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To: Clemenza
P.S.
If you ever travel in France or Italy, you might be a little less mouth about Frenchmen and Italians being "Mama's boys bigtime".
Unless in those two countries you want to receive the Ugly American award (which would do wonders for the reputation of other New Yorkers and Floridians) and might also yield for you a variety of unpleasant personal experiences. Enjoy.
31 posted on 04/12/2002 8:05:49 AM PDT by AzJP
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To: AzJP
Have you ever seen the regulations and taxes that most of the EU has. For my money, only Lichtenstein and Monaco count as free states anymore.

For the record, I have traveled throughout Europe and Latin America. I work with more foreigners than Americans in my place of business. Show me how Euro-peons are not more socialist than the USA and I am sure that you can prove that snipes exist in the Phoenix Valley.

Furthermore, as a half-Italian American, I am proud of the fact that my ancestors learned how to shove on their own in America and minimalize Mammisima.

BTW: Why do you knock my screen name?

32 posted on 04/12/2002 8:10:02 AM PDT by Clemenza
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To: AzJP
I'm not so sure about the French, but most Italiam women will tell you about how the men remain boys for most of their lives. When drunk, so will most Italian men.
33 posted on 04/12/2002 8:11:30 AM PDT by Clemenza
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To: warped
Thanks.  I knew it had "Red" in it, but I was just as sure that it wasn't "Red Dawn" or "Red Sun Rising" which were the only other two that I could think of.
34 posted on 04/12/2002 8:12:29 AM PDT by Frumious Bandersnatch
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To: AzJP
In France, it is (or was) against the law to throw your adult children out of the house without first getting approval from the courts.
35 posted on 04/12/2002 8:12:35 AM PDT by Clemenza
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To: Thorn11cav
"I think GW on the ranch embodies what real America is still all about."

He sure does. He, unlike Clinton, represents the true American spirit. The social(sm) collectivists of EUrope will never - CAN never - understand that, because the fashionable political left is unable to comprehend the American spirit.

The French loved Clinton. They dismiss GW as a "cowboy." What does that tell us?

36 posted on 04/12/2002 8:15:39 AM PDT by cake_crumb
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To: Mr. Thorne
What myth?

Hex is looking at you.

37 posted on 04/12/2002 8:16:39 AM PDT by Jonah Hex
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To: Clemenza
Because the movie was a piece of fictional drama flavored with history. According to notes from Coppola. According to comments from Puzo.
Hell, I really don't care about your screen name. Sorry I made a comment about the reference.

Nice background kid, but I still disagree with your assessment of Europeans being 95% effiminate socialists. You must have traveled in a different crowd.
Hey, so what, I have nothing against effiminates, or socialists, as long as they mind their own business.
If that's what you found in Europe, you're welcome to your own.

38 posted on 04/12/2002 8:19:12 AM PDT by AzJP
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To: Mr. Thorne
Cowboy = Individualism

Liberal = Collectivism

Therefore, the liberal despises the idea of a cowboy.

39 posted on 04/12/2002 8:23:40 AM PDT by moyden
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To: Clemenza
See ya' around Clem, I've finished downloading and I've got serious work....gonna' ship livestock to your faggity marxists buddies in Europe. For a profit.
40 posted on 04/12/2002 8:24:39 AM PDT by AzJP
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To: Mr. Thorne

41 posted on 04/12/2002 9:14:06 AM PDT by ppaul
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To: ppaul
Great cartoon.
42 posted on 04/12/2002 9:18:42 AM PDT by cake_crumb
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To: HeadOn
Hey, some things just have to be said...

Other favorite line(s)...

Andersen: Yep, twice your age. Had my back broke once and my hip twice. And on my worst day, I could beat the hell outta you.
Longhair: Well, now, Mr. Andersen, I don't think I believe that...
Andersen: You will! (krack!)

From, appropriately, The Cowboys.

43 posted on 04/12/2002 9:23:11 AM PDT by Mr. Thorne
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To: Nat Turner
"...They gave up the right to speak with Chamberlin @ the Munich pact..."

"...Only the Brits...have true grit now..."

Chamberlain, that well-known Frog.....

44 posted on 04/12/2002 9:25:34 AM PDT by LaBelleDameSansMerci
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To: AzJP
"... Why did he use movie actors as examples of "cowboys"?..."

Because real cowboys would not be suitable as mascots for the War Party. The key is to keep Americans well away from their cutural heritage......

45 posted on 04/12/2002 9:27:32 AM PDT by LaBelleDameSansMerci
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To: Mr. Thorne
Aw shucks. I thought this was going to be a great article. So the author is confronting cowboy myths by citing Hollywood cowboys?

Real cowboys did not pick fights. They--as their daily experience with Mother Nature taught them--were non-confrontational and non-interventionist. Above all they would not interfere in feuds of which they knew nothing.

Contrary to urban myth, the best cowboys did not "break" horses. They persuaded them at critical moments. They respected the nature of horses and didn't engage in fruitless efforts to make that nature conform to their prejudices.

It was not cowboys who fought Indians. It was the US government in one of its many "regulation" and human improvement schemes--schemes which we conservatives know and love so well.

The "violence" practiced by cowboys was always strictly limited--except, perhaps, when drinking. And that is kind of a self limiting activity.

So we can clearly see why the myth of cowboys must reamain just that-a myth.

By the way, cowboys abhorred blowhardism. For example if a "cowboy" loudly declared: "Osama, wanted dead or alive," and then, several months later shrugged and said "We don't really care about Osama," that cowboy would be seen as a callow blowhard....

Oh, and a real cowboy would not concern himself overmuch with contemplation of Evil--especially the purported evil of foreigners in distant lands. There was too much work to be done on the ranch.

Maybe America declined into an Empire because we have waaay too much time on our hands.

46 posted on 04/12/2002 9:45:38 AM PDT by LaBelleDameSansMerci
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To: Thorn11cav
"...I think GW on the ranch embodies what real America is still all about....

Unfortunately, you're probably correct. We are totally dependant upon Islamic oil and totally addicted to interfering in the affairs of foreign lands. To console ourselves over our lack of liberty we take refuge on our designer ranches and play cowboy for long week-ends--chopping wood, roasting marshmellows and scratching our butts in a relaxed fasion.

But, when Monday rolls around we return to the Real America.....

47 posted on 04/12/2002 9:53:07 AM PDT by LaBelleDameSansMerci
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To: LaBelleDameSansMerci
The United States is one of the largest oil producers in the world. That hardly means we are "*totally*" dependent on foreign oil. Your offensive would be slightly more meaningful if it contained something other than the rhetoric parroted by every other Bush basher in the world.

And you obviously have no idea what the author is defining as a cowboy. Come to think of it, your arguments pretty much epitomize YOU as exactly what the author defines as err...those who think "cowboy" is a bad word.

48 posted on 04/12/2002 10:05:00 AM PDT by cake_crumb
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To: FITZ
Europeans don't understand that to real Americans that is a compliment. They should hear what we say about them ---but then maybe they take that to be a compliment.

I have three uncles who are 'cowboys' *L* (All working in the building trade however! *LOL*)

Kidding aside, not all of us 'Europeans' don't get the compliment. :-)
But then the Irish are more of the exception than the rule European-wise.

49 posted on 04/12/2002 10:08:27 AM PDT by Happygal
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To: LaBelleDameSansMerci
Aw shucks. I thought this was going to be a great article. So the author is confronting cowboy myths by citing Hollywood cowboys?

Real cowboys did not pick fights. They--as their daily experience with Mother Nature taught them--were non-confrontational and non-interventionist. Above all they would not interfere in feuds of which they knew nothing.

In fact, unless they've changed the plots of the two movies referenced by the author (Shane, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), they would seem to work well with your stated premise. So what's the beef?

Contrary to urban myth, the best cowboys did not "break" horses. They persuaded them at critical moments. They respected the nature of horses and didn't engage in fruitless efforts to make that nature conform to their prejudices.

Contrary to revisionist myth, they hardly broke them at all. Not out of any genteel concerns for nature's feelings, but they had a job to do. If the horse would carry you, he was as broke as he was gonna get...

It was not cowboys who fought Indians. It was the US government in one of its many "regulation" and human improvement schemes--schemes which we conservatives know and love so well.

Again, what this has to do with the movies referenced is sketchy. However, I imagine you are taking a more general view. Okay. I'm trying to think of a movie in which I saw cowboys fighting indians, per se.

The Searchers, of course, comes to mind. Were there no skirmishes between settlers and Indians in the west? Amazing...

The "violence" practiced by cowboys was always strictly limited--except, perhaps, when drinking. And that is kind of a self limiting activity.

There is a book my father had, with a journal from one of the earlier expeditions to California (pre-civil war). It describes what these guys did for fun. From the description, it seems that boys will play with boy's toys (knives, guns, and fists) no matter what. Unless of course the journals writer was lying in his journal. I suppose that's possible...

See, this was before WWF. We of the XY chromosome need a bit of raw meet with our tofu, and we'll get it where we must...

So we can clearly see why the myth of cowboys must reamain just that-a myth.

In the first place, who's we?

In the second place, I'd tend to classify it as 'legend' rather than 'myth.' Oh, doubtless there's some embellishing going on. But myth says to me that they never existed at all.

Or, are you stating that there were no such men? Ever?

By the way, cowboys abhorred blowhardism. For example if a "cowboy" loudly declared: "Osama, wanted dead or alive," and then, several months later shrugged and said "We don't really care about Osama," that cowboy would be seen as a callow blowhard....

How did real cowboys feel about complaining about the job before it's done? What would a real cowboy say about someone who, let us say, heckled and annoyed the local sheriff over his apprehending the rustlers but not the gang leader? Especially if the job was in progress?

See, I'd buy your argument here if only someone had said "that's it; we're done, we've won." That hasn't been said. But stand fast, they could disappoint me yet. There's always hope...

Oh, and a real cowboy would not concern himself overmuch with contemplation of Evil--especially the purported evil of foreigners in distant lands. There was too much work to be done on the ranch.

Quite right. And, when the (Injuns, rustlers, outlaws, what have you) came by and killed his family, he'd ignore it. As you said, much work to be done. No time for 'justice,' and all that.

Actually, from all I've read, if you were on the frontier, you were pretty much the police force, fire department, et cetera. Courts, juries, police forces and such come with cities and more civil times. Why should a cowboy bring a man in who he just caught with a running iron, when that means he has to leave the ranch for court. Especially when there are a number of sturdy trees handy.

Maybe America declined into an Empire because we have waaay too much time on our hands.

What you mean 'we', paleface? (thank you, Bill Cosby)

And more to the point; maybe America declined into Empire because Empire is the natural state of man. And the natural action of an empire is expansion. So, if you're right, the next century or so should be interesting.

50 posted on 04/12/2002 12:30:31 PM PDT by Mr. Thorne
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