By Peter Coe Verbica
This week, I met a forty year old woman who despises cowboys. At first blush, she seemed sane enough; there weren’t any flames shooting out of her ears, nor was she wearing a tin-foil hat. But, these are weird times and an errant way of thinking has taken over even well-educated minds across the country. We were in California but she was dressed more like a New Yorker. That should have given me a clue, perhaps. We attended the same expensive Cambridge school, but apparently I had been reading the wrong textbooks. Other than her propensity to swear in her first sentences upon meeting me (and expressing sincere frustration with her ailing father), I had no real clue what ire was in store.
I treated her to a coffee and seated her like a gentleman. (Call me old-fashioned; I still hold doors open for women and wish friends a “Merry Christmas.”) But, when she began telling me that the word “cowboy” was gender insensitive, I shifted weight to the balls of my feet and checked for the location of the doors in case I needed to make an exit. I wasn’t sure if she meant her offense was because “cow” refers to the female of the species. I was also told that images of white men holding Winchesters was “racist.” When I explained that the painting was from the taking of San Juan Hill and a reference to Teddy Roosevelt and Cuba, she looked at me with a benign vacancy.
Now, my grandmother was part Native American, and unless I’m illegitimate, so am I. Not nearly enough blood to be on the tribal roll, but enough to keep me interested. I have a badge to prove it. My wife also has Native American blood and my mom spent her final years in the Capitol of a tribal nation. So, I suppose it’s odd that I do my best to defend cowboy culture which appears to be under assault. I did grow up on a commercial cattle ranch. But, anyone who has studied history knows that cowboys came from a myriad of ethnicities. I display postage stamps of Black and Hispanic cowboys to make the point to the ignorant. (God bless Gauchos and Vaqueros.) I explained to this new acquaintance that Bill Pickett, a Black American featured on a US postage stamp, was the first to introduce bulldogging; she asked what that was and I explained that it was a rodeo sport which evolved into steer wrestling. I also explained the role of Sephardic Jews and others to cowboy culture. These facts were of little interest to her.
Yes, I get it that Columbus got his nomenclature of an indigenous culture wrong because he got lost. And I know he was a merciless brute. But, I happily remember when Stanford’s mascot wasn’t renamed a tree by sanctimonious students and Prince Lightfoot proudly danced over each yard line. And, despite the opinion of certain students, not all Native American students or alumni agreed with the name change.
When I proposed that America was better off being owned by Americans, she found the concept to be “jingoistic.” Apparently, Gandhi’s ideas of booting out the Brits and being self-sufficient wouldn’t have gone over well with her either; she explained that she could care less if property was owned by the Chinese, the Saudis or the Russians, as long as she got a small piece of the pie. She said, in effect, the more foreign money the better. I suppose that’s the kind of Realpolitik which brings tears of joy to Kissinger’s eyes, but I’m of the opinion that if you don’t own your dirt, you’re headed towards serfdom. If I chronicled how many cities have flipped from a majority of owners to a majority of renters, you’d understand the real underlying cause of why America is evolving into Amerika. Property rights have been throttled to where owners can no longer build to higher and better use; to heck with free market economics: Wise Bureaucrats Know Better.
My new acquaintance also railed about the lineage of old white male US presidents and took comfort in taking them down one at a time, a bald reference, I suppose, to the multi-racial Obama being elected, and perhaps a nod to Queen Hillary being robbed from her rightful throne and to the sputtering and mad-capped rise of Elizabeth Warren. Color of skin and age were the real issue, it appeared, not whether a President had the character of Abraham Lincoln or the reputation of Richard Nixon. If they were old white men, all, apparently, were cut from the same cloth.
To lighten the conversation, I asked her about her children and was told the number; then, I asked their genders and was told that the youngsters currently “identified” as boys. My first reaction was with a mother like theirs, I had an unequivocal charitable duty to take them hunting so that they could pee on trees and breathe in some helicopter-parent free air. But, as I say, these are the oddest times, when the Boy Scouts of America are now just the “Scouts” and rural students are no longer allowed to bring their .22 or .410 shotgun to school so that they can go hunting afterwards.
But, these are the times which try men’s souls, where up is down and down is up. I had received a cajoling corporate email pleading with me (“Count Me In!”) to opt in with respect to questions about my gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, personal pronoun choice and military service. In addition, a barrage of communications have invited me to celebrate certain months of race and genders and to be an “Ally” to those with different lifestyle preferences. Gone is the simple concept of diversity being about different ideas; gone is true debate in American culture; taking strategy from the Communist playbook, label, divide and conquer. PC Amerika and its comrades plow forward: first the Indians and now the cowboys.