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My Name is Buck Calder

August 8, 2011


OK, so who is Buck Calder? Well, he’s not exactly John Galt. If you’ve heard of the author Nicholas Evans (“The Horse Whisperer”), Calder may ring a bell with you as one of the main (and villainous) characters in Evans’ novel “The Loop.” The story centers on a conflict between ranchers and government officials over the presence of wolves in a small ranching community. From Evans’ point of view, the government people who are about saving wolves are the noble ones, and the ranchers who wish to rid themselves of the wolves in the interest of protecting their families and livelihoods are the bad guys, as epitomized by Buck Calder.

What is Buck’s sin? A better question might be, what isn’t? He’s a womanizer; an overbearing father whose constant belittling of his youngest, reticent son supposedly caused the boy to stutter; and a bully who alternately uses phony charm and real intimidation to keep the government employees off balance. In short, Calder is the model of what liberals view as the typical conservative.

Let’s use another example to reinforce this concept. Remember “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the noble defense attorney Atticus Finch? Well, his evil foil was the dastardly Bob Ewell, the man who wrongly accused a black man of raping his daughter (when in fact, it was apparent that Ewell himself was guilty of the evil deed). In the 1960’s, when race was the top grievance (not unjustifiably so, I might add), Ewell was the symbol of a white, hypocritical racist who, although he was a Southerner, could have been from anywhere.

Buck Calder is simply Bob Ewell updated for the 1990’s (The Loop was published in 1998) with the top grievances now being the environment and animal rights. The message was clear then and just as clear now: white, conservative males are the font of evil in this country, and must be treated accordingly.

I know this may sound like a self-pitying, over-the-top rant. But consider our friends in the Tea Party and the way they have been characterized from the beginning. The name-calling started almost immediately, but it reached a full-throated crescendo recently during the debt ceiling debates when the left used glowing terms like “hostage-takers” and “terrorists” to describe ordinary Americans of every race and socioeconomic strata who simply want the federal leviathan to stop growing.

It’s enough to almost want to excuse the behavior of many Congressional Republicans that, all their feeble protests aside, too often cave and join in the chorus of criticism instead of standing up for the people who were largely responsible for electing them. The age-old story is simply this: name-calling does hurt and does affect people, the sticks-and-stones ditty not withstanding. In a room full of liberals, how willing is any of us to show sympathy for the Tea Party, let alone stand up for our beliefs? And even if you do, you know going in that there’s a price to be paid.

The lamestream media use marginalization techniques on our side because they know these techniques are effective. When some one or group is constantly characterized in negative terms, it’s very difficult even for those who support them to continue that support without some seed of doubt being planted in their minds. Think about the geeky kid in school who was the unwitting subject of constant ridicule; did that make you want to cozy up to that person and become his buddy? Probably not.

The question for a future that includes a nation-pivoting election next year is this: Which of the Republican candidates, if any, has the guts, smarts and moxie to turn this thing around? Which of them realizes what they’re really up against and has a confident, no-holds-barred game plan to deal with it? I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day, that’s the candidate I want in my corner.

Copyright ©2011 Phil Perkins

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