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John Wayne, Michael Moore & Andrew Undershaft
by Andrew Barbano
Dec 19, 2012 | 2268 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Current calls for gun control confront an immortal adversary: mythology. Here’s a checklist.

1. CELLULOID COWBOYS. The American cowpoke is both legend and legerdemain. Marketers morphed the Hispanic gaucho into John Wayne with hat brim heroically upturned for the cameras.

Gauchismo brought with it the macho myth that the truly rugged individual should aspire to become a law unto himself.

Wacko Tom Cruise’s new movie recycles the always sellable cliché of the stranger who blows into town, rights wrongs, then rides into the sunset.

Who was that masked man? And where’s Tonto?

2. RUGGED INDIVIDUALISM. Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover used the term to sell the shuck that any self-respecting loner can become Superman if he’s willing to work hard enough.

A few years back, Dodge targeted macho studs who “break the rules,”  encouraging them to prove it by sidling up to the bar and going into debt for a new, overpriced cookie-cutter pick’em up truck.

America was actually built by teamwork, each citizen yielding some individual freedom to enact a system of laws establishing a civilized society.

3. FEAR OF BLACKS. Film maker Michael Moore got it right in his Oscar-winning 2002 documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” available free online. Other countries have more guns per capita but miniscule numbers of firearm deaths compared to us. Guns became U.S. demigods based on irrational fear of freed slaves.

4. UNSAFE SCHOOLS. As former Tribune writer Dennis Myers has oft-noted, schools are among the safest places in our society -- without teachers or students packing heat.

5. WOMANLY WEAKNESS. Although comprising more than half the population, females remain laughably under-represented in government. To demonstrate they had the chops to rule, first-wave women who won high office had to act more violent and war-like than men. If and when the coming third wave achieves numerical parity, power may shift toward the peaceful.

Until then, Mao Zedong’s 1938 words rule: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

George Bernard Shaw’s 1905 play “Major Barbara” provided the highest irony of all and remains ridiculously relevant today.

The anti-war Shaw meant to demonstrate that military money is much better spent on peaceful pursuits. Alas and alack, life did not imitate art. His anti-hero’s philosophy prevailed. Boy, did it ever.

Here is despicable arms merchant Andrew Undershaft (father of the title character, Salvation Army Major Barbara Undershaft), articulating the deranged and deregulatory gospel of the armorer’s trust: “To give arms to all men who offer an honest price for them without respect of persons or principles...to all sorts and conditions, all nationalities, all faiths, all follies, all causes and all crimes.”

I give you USA 2012, armorer to the world.

CANNOT POSSIBLY BE TRUE. President Obama cried on camera while consoling the nation. “He’s stealing my act,” groused House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Happy High Holly Days.

Be well. Raise hell.

Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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