The Cowboy Code1 June, 2008
When I was young, I remember discussing cowboys with my friends. The fact that we lived in Arizona at the time, and one of my friends really WAS a cowboy (his family worked a large ranch between Grand Canyon and Flagstaff), didn’t stop us. Most of the arguments centered upon that age-old discussion: Autry or Rodgers, Gene or Roy, Champion or Trigger. I always fell on the Gene Autry side for two reasons: my mom was a Gene Autry fan, and I read the Gene Autry comic books from her childhood.
Today, I discovered that Gene Autry had a Cowboy Code (and I think George W. Bush (who likes to play-act as a cowboy) should take a look at it).
- A cowboy must never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage (So no preemptive strikes, no picking on the weak or defenseless, and fight fair)
- He must never go back on his word or a trust confided in him (Like promissing to fire anyone who leaked Valerie Plame’s name to the press and then ignoring his own previous statements)
- He must always tell the truth (Like the reasons for going to war, or why we cut taxes for the richest, strongest (economically))
- He must be gently with children, the elderly and animals. (Like the children and elderly who die in Iraq every day)
- He must not advocate or possess racially or religiously intolerant ideas (I guess that would include the modern version of born-again fundogelical Christianity)
- He must help people in distress. (Millions of Americans are in danger of losing their homes, so bail out the rich people at Bear Stearns)
- He must be a good worker. (Does taking more time off for vacations than any President in history count as being a good worker?)
- He must keep himself clean in thought, speech, action and personal habits. (Wouldn’t you just love to hear his thoughts about the press? And does cocaine count as clean action or clean personal habits?)
- He must respect women, parents, and his nations laws. (Respect women by assuming that they can’t make a decision regarding their own body, respect parents by ignoring Dad’s warning about what would happen if we overthrew Saddam Hussein, and respect the nations laws by ignoring habeas corpus and get your lawyers to make a finding that torture is legal)
- The cowboy is a patriot. (If patriotism is defined as reactionary America-firstism, lapel flags, the narrow-minded idea that America can do no wrong, the rest of the world can do no right, and cooperation and negotiation are un-American, then I guess Bush is)
This list, this Cowboy’s Code, is, by today’s standards (actually, by Republican standards) un-American. Things like fairness, respect, obeying laws and truthfulness are so yesterday, so liberal. This may explain why, though the ‘liberal’ press loved Roy Rogers, they were always rather lukewarm about Gene Autry. He was just too honest for modern conservatism.