Saturday, February 05, 2005

In Defense of the Cowboy


by Andrew Bernstein (February 27, 2003)

Those who oppose war with Iraq--from foreign heads of state to homegrown antiwar protesters--employ a common expression of contempt for the American war effort. America, they sneer, is acting like a "cowboy." A mock interview with Saddam Hussein conducted by a European intellectual is written to show, in one news report's summary, "what out-of-control cowboys the Americans are." A recent New York Times article explains that to some Europeans the "major problem is Bush the cowboy." U.S. Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut agrees, stating that America must not "act like a unilateral cowboy." These smears imply that the heyday of the cowboy in the Old West was a lawless period when trigger-happy gunmen shot it out with reckless abandon and brute force reigned…

…But to most Americans, the cowboy is not a villain but a hero. What we honor about the cowboy of the Old West is his willingness to stand up to evil and to do it alone, if necessary. The cowboy is a symbol of the crucial virtues of courage and independence. The original cowboys were hard-working ranchers and settlers who tamed a vast wilderness. In the process, they had to contend with violent outlaws as well as warlike Indian tribes. The honest men on the frontier did not wring their hands in fear, uncertainty and moral paralysis; they stood up to evil men and defeated them…

…Even as our European critics use the "cowboy" image as a symbol of reckless irresponsibility, they implicitly reveal the real virtues they are attacking. European leaders assail Americans because our "language is far too blunt" and because we see the struggle between Western Civilization and Islamic fanaticism in "black-and-white certainties." They whine about our "Texas attitude" and whimper that "an American president who makes up his mind and then will accept no argument" is a greater danger than murderous dictators. In short, they object to America's willingness to face the facts, to make moral judgments, to act independently, and to battle evil with unflinching courage. These European critics are worse than the timid shopkeeper in an old Hollywood Western. They don't merely want to avoid confronting evil--they seek to prevent anyone else from recognizing evil and standing up to it…

…If America fully embraces this cowboy wisdom and courage, then the Islamic terrorists and the regimes that support them had better run for cover. They stand no chance in the resulting showdown…

Complete article found at: http://www.CapMag.com/article.asp?ID=2518

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