Smithsonian, especially on the ethnological side, was a pleasant
place to browse in. Every nation, like every individual, walks in
a vain show else it could not live with itself but I never got over
the wonder of a people who, having extirpated the aboriginals of
their continent more completely than any modern race had ever done,
honestly believed that they were a godly little New England community,
setting examples to brutal mankind. This wonder I used to explain
to Theodore Roosevelt, who made the glass cases of Indian relics
shake with his rebuttals."
Rudyard Kipling, Something
are always some events that are so momentous that you remember where
you were when you first heard of them, and what you were doing.
The assassination of John Kennedy, Neil Armstrong taking his "one
small step for a man," the church at Waco going up in smoke.
shall remember where I was on September 11th, 2001, for
quite a long time. I was high up in the Big Horn mountains of Wyoming,
herding cattle. Thereís an art to it, which requires a good horse
and a good rider (in that order). The gist of it is this: circle
wide around the cattle you want to herd, until they are between
you and where you want them to go. Then move toward them.
fast you move toward them depends on how fast you want them to go.
If you are herding cow calf pairs, you want them to move slowly
so that they do not get separated. So you amble toward them. In
other circumstances, a charge at full gallop is appropriate. But
off they go, in the direction you want them to move, and you check
the area around you for other cows who need similar prodding.
morning we gathered 213 cows and approximately 200 calves out of
a pasture, and confined them into a pen. The pen was a length of
dirt road, fenced on either side, with a temporary gate at one end.
I and two other riders took station at the other end. We made a
line, and there we held those cattle in place. At the far end, the
cattle were pushed through a narrow runway ten or so at a time,
and sorted: bull calves and their mothers to one pen, heifer calves
and their mothers to another. Like a vast hydraulic piston, my fellow
riders and I slowly pushed four hundred bawling, mewling cattle
through that narrow passage, as fast as the other cowboys could
sort them. Think of it as an exercise in bovine fluid dynamics.
cattle did not want to be herded or pushed. The bawling and the
sullen looks on their faces made that clear. But three people and
three horses, massing at most 4,000 pounds, pushed 350,000 pounds
of cattle into an ever narrower passage.
seething, roiling mass of black reminded me of song-writer Dana
Lyonsí delightful satire about bovine rebellion against being herded
and eaten, Cows with Guns. But I also realized that those cows did
not need guns to break out of their confinement. They needed only
a bit of concerted action. And the twin ideas that they could be
free, and would be better off free.
course, we were herding the cattle "for their own good".
Later that day, we vaccinated them for various diseases and parasites,
and sprayed them down for external parasites. They are no doubt
healthier today than they were the day we herded them. But they
arenít free. The cows which are not pregnant will be sold off later
this year. Most of the bull calves will be castrated, the hamburger
of the future. The few who arenít will be sold to specialists in
cattle breeding. And so on, with the cows themselves not making
or even consulted in a single one of these decisions.
first learned of the attacks on the New York World Trade Center
and the Pentagon when we returned to our cow camp for lunch. One
of the riders had taken the morning off, and had learned of it from
his wife via cell phone. It was quite a bit of culture shock, to
be pulled from our microcosm of a XXth Century working ranch to
the stark realities of XXIth Century geopolitics, which bid fair
to become even more stark as it wears on.
before the Berlin Wall fell, US foreign policy can be described
with two phrases. Some would say the United States has become the
planetary bully boy, throwing its weight around with reckless abandon
for sheer monetary gain, like the Vikings of old. It should be as
obvious as the nose on Clintonís face that Desert Storm had nothing
to do with saving "democracy in Kuwait" and everything
to do with oil, if for no other reason that saving democracy in
Kuwait is like saving virginity in a whorehouse: first there must
be something to save.
figure that the US has assumed a modern, Politically Correct, version
of "the White Manís Burden", the "burden" of
civilizing the benighted heathens. The West has been good at it,
although the values of civilization have changed over the years.
Once it was the Cross and the Sermon on the Mount that were to be
brought to the heathens at sword point. Now, itís MacDonaldís, "democracy"
(whatever that means) and reruns of "Laverne and Shirley".
the cost of the White Manís Burden has always been high. Kipling
knew that, because he was a student like no other of the British
Empire. An Ďe warned us, Ďe did, a hundred two years ago. His poem
of that title is subtitled "The United States and the Philippine
Islands." But Americans hadnít the wisdom to read it and learn.
And it is safe to predict, alas, that theyíll not learn by bloody
experience. Because they must have their illusions, their "vain
because those who bring them that "vain show" also manipulate
them. The so-called journalists of todayís mass media should have
as their motto Hearstí "You provide the pictures. Iíll provide
the war". The United Statesí so-called "leaders"
let themselves be manipulated into picking up that White Manís Burden
every time, from Guatemala and Iran to Kosovo and Iraq. "Weíve
got to bring them Democracy" goes the refrain. And no-one ever
bothers to ask, "Why?" "What will the price be?",
nor, finally, "Will it be worth the price?"
after a century of government schools and television, Americans
are incapable of thinking of those questions. Or perhaps the reason
the American people donít ask these questions is because they know,
somewhere deep down in their minds, that they wonít get a straight
answer to any of them.
either case, the government schools, the media and the politicians
have learned well how to herd Americans. And that makes George W.
Bush a singularly appropriate Cattle Herder In Chief for this god-awful
White Manís Burden and Bully Boy theories are not mutually exclusive.
Christianity, or specific flavors of it, has been rammed down the
throats of nations at swordpoint for almost two thousand years,
as writers from Gibbon to Erasmus have noted. If they wonít peacefully
accept the Cross, why, for their own good weíll force it on them!
Norsemen could go to Iceland, then Greenland, then Vinland, to evade
the remorseless black robes. But where does one go today to get
away from "democracy" or the IRS? There is no place. So
they lash out instead, wildly and destructively. Maybe the people
who attacked the World Trade Center just plain donít want to end
up as displays in the Smithsonian.
one sense, the attackers were very intelligent and patient. Apparently
they were able to hijack four aircraft from three different airports
and two different airlines within a few hours of each other. The
anti-hijacking policies of the US were as naught. Kiplingís "Fuzzy
Wuzzy" for the XXIth Century.
the chattering classí conjecture that the culprits are some Muslim
fanatics is correct, then Americans had better understand that they
have 1422 years of history behind them and they have long collective
memories. And if the culprits are Afghanis, remember that the Afghanis
have beaten the Russian Empire, the British Empire and the Soviet
Empire. Why should they not take on what they see as the American
another sense, the attackers were blithering idiots. They have just
handed the United States and the media exactly the excuse they need
and want to tighten up the police state in this country just as
the drug war was wearing thin as that excuse. The United Statesí
police state already extends world wide, and that too will be strengthened.
The bombers have handed their enemy exactly the excuse they need
to become even more powerful and to wage a war of revenge. And the
American cattle will be herded into giving it to them.
those two senses, the attack on the World Trade Center was both
as brilliant and as stupid as the attack on Pearl Harbor, and for
the same reasons. Admiral Yamamoto warned the Imperial War Cabinet
that if they attacked the US, Japan would have a year to defeat
the US. After that, the United States would defeat them. He was
right. He was ignored. Whether anyone similarly warned the attackers
of the World Trade Center we will probably never know.
L. Mencken once said that the first casualty of war is the truth.
If so, the second is liberty. It has already begun. For more than
ten years, the US has enforced "no fly" zones on two thirds
of Iraq. On September 11th, 2001, the US imposed a "no
fly" zone on the entirety of America without destroying a single
anti-aircraft gun. All, of course, in the spurious name of "security."
help us all. One of these days, we may envy those cattle up in the
Big Horns. Those of us left who can still think about it.
Curley is a software engineer and sometimes cowboy in
© 2001 LewRockwell.com