Feel-good mythology

Most useful column of the weekend: Danny Westneat’s in the Seattle Times today, deconstructing the myth of the West as a place of “rugged individualism.” Not that a lot of people don’t buy into it; many do, and even more are the politicians who traffic in it. But none of that makes it any more true.

Westneat: “Of all stories we tell ourselves, the one about how we’re a merit-based nation of lone wolves has got to be the most enduring. The most intoxicating. And the most baloney.”

Westneat aims his barbs most directly at eastern Washington, prompted by campaign rhetoric from senatorial candidate Clint Didier. (Didier: “We’ve got to get rid of this ‘protecting the weak’. If we keep the weak alive all the time, it eats up the strong.”) But eastern Oregon and, even more, Idaho are just as much swept up in the tale of the hard-bitten but often brilliant loner who can do it all by himself if the damned government would just stay off his back.

Except for providing for his public education, of course. Or roads. Safety. Waterways. Electricity. And on and on.

Read, by all means. We’ll be returning to this, no doubt.

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One Comment

  1. ricksha said:

    ” the tale of the hard-bitten but often brilliant loner who can do it all by himself if the damned government would just stay off his back.”

    How about if the damned mega corporations would just stay off our backs?
    For example, this latest attempt to wreck our scenic highway Rt. 12 in northern Idaho and over into Montana
    by 2 oil companies–Exxon/Mob. and Conoco/Phil. who can easily afford a route direct across Canada to Alberta. See this link and learn all about it:
    http://www.FightingGoliath.org

    July 26, 2010

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