By Sonny Scott
Sometimes a work of genius is anonymous. Such was the case last month when some known-only-to-the-one-who-cashed-his-check advertiser had three billboards erected in Colorado. Picturing three Plains Indians in traditional garb with Winchesters cradled in their arms, the caption advised: “Turn in your arms”; followed by the ironic “comforting” line: “The government will take care of you.”
If you don’t think that has gotten a lot of attention nationwide, then you don’t fully appreciate the infantile, self-absorbed nature of Americans as a people. Ironically, the left-leaning news magazines whose sites I visit daily have ignored the episode – likely because the logic of making American Indians “poster boys” for anti-government and pro-gun sentiment is not lost on editors. I discovered the billboards when an email from a friend had an attached photo. I did a Web search to see if it existed (as opposed to an NRA member’s erotic dream) and found that it has generated quite the buzz. Most of the adverse comment is along the lines of it being unconscionable to use the image of Native Americans to advance a political argument. No explanation of why this was never mentioned when the iconic “Crying Indian” ads for Keep America Beautiful were ubiquitous in the ’70s, but we are a more sensitive people now, ‘tis true.
Aside from the pro-NRA message implicit in the non-too subtle billboard, I was struck by the timeliness of the message for my generation, the infamous Baby Boomers. Ours is the first generation to accept getting more from government than we put into it as normality. After having post-war social policy largely shaped to cater to us and our parents, we have assumed that the promises of government could be accepted in lieu of cash. We attended schools financed by bonds on the credit of future land owners and taxpayers, went to college on an alphabet soup of aid to education entitlement programs, and worked in jobs servicing the military-industrial complex directly or indirectly. We finagled legislation allowing us to protect the income of the more successful from FICA taxes, and subsidized our forays into the stock market through 401(k) deferments on income so that we might have some stock market butter for our Social Security bread in retirement. Now that our vanguard is easing into its sunset years, we are hit in the face with the wet sock of reality – the dance is over, and the fiddler is demanding his hire. The likelihood of outright default on obligations by Uncle Sam and the outright certainty of the scaling back of promised benefits have left many Boomers feeling betrayed by “the government.”
Poor dears. Though it’s fashionable to decry the quality of the education that this privileged generation received, the most glaring deficiency has been the deplorable content of the “history” courses they were exposed to. When someone has carefully and objectively reviewed the transactions of Ben Franklin’s republican successors toward the Indians, the Republic of Mexico, women, blacks, landless farmers, coal miners, garment workers, Chinese immigrants, and ___________ (Fill the blank with your favorite patsy who took the word of ‘The Government’ at face value), how can he be surprised when truth becomes a perishable commodity?
Don’t get me wrong. For all its faults, government is necessary for civilization, so I do not advocate violent revolution – though like Jefferson, I recognize that sometimes it may be justified – even if Mr. Jefferson’s may not have been. No sir. As Jeff himself noted, “Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” Like a cuckold who realizes that while his missus is not all he hoped for, she is probably better than he deserves, and it is in his best interest to get along with her, I realize that Uncle Sam ain’t perfect, but he’s mine, and I’d be well served to make the best of it. If my generation had spent enough time exploring the history of western civilization (as opposed to those “Civic Pride” courses masquerading as “history”), we’d be less judgmental, and better equipped to deal with reality.
Oh, why don’t we really study history?
Are you kidding? With our sensitive natures and crap-load of axes to grind, you think we’d sit still for the real deal?
SONNY SCOTT is a Chickasaw County resident and a community columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.