By Dick Haney
It’s time to man the Ramparts: Our Western Heritage is Under Attack
Guy Weadick and Pat Burns who were instrumental in organizing the first Calgary Stampede in 1912 must be rolling over in their graves with the most recent announcement about how the Rangeland Derby is being changed to placate those most of whom unfortunately, wouldn’t know the front end of an Angus Steer from the back end of a pick up truck. We are now going to have two outriders and not the four that we have had for time eternal in the Chuckwagon Races, and for all the wrong reasons. To those who made the decisions, if you think that this is the end of the battle about what a Rodeo or more specifically what the Rangeland Derby should look like you are sadly mistaken. This is only one small minute battle that a select group has once again won in the real war that is being waged and that ultimate goal is I believe to totally ban all Rodeos from existence.
It’s time to say enough is enough. It’s amazing how history repeats itself. In September of 1938, Neville Chamberlain, Prime Minister of the England, returned from Germany after signing the Munich Agreement with Hitler. The Munich Agreement gave the Sudetenland (a Czech territorial possession) to Germany on the premise that this would end Germany’s aspirations. This agreement was reached without
Czech input by Britain and France who wanted to avoid war at all cost. Remember how Chamberlain waved the document while debarking the airplane that returned him from Germany, all the while smiling and saying “Peace in our Time?” The ink wasn’t even dry on the document before Hitler invaded Poland, the event that kick started World War Two. The failed strategy caused Chamberlain to leave office in disgrace to make way for the British Bulldog Winston Churchill, but the damage had been done, and millions would die in the succeeding conflict. The reason that the Munich Agreement was a train wreck was that the European Powers failed to realize what Hitler’s true agenda was and what his ultimate objective from the start entailed. In short, Hitler played the other European powers very successfully and they ended up fighting a far more major conflict than would have been the case had they had the backbone to stop Hitler dead in his tracks early on.
Sacrificing one’s principles didn’t work then and it doesn’t work any better now. The well financed groups that incessantly challenge our rights and privileges to a rural way of life are not going away. They will not rest until they have achieved their ultimate goal which is to totally and completely decimate our ability to lead the life that we have all chosen. Do we have a right to protect our heritage? Do we have a right to protect our way of life? Do others have the right to superimpose their value systems on us? I say not now and not ever. If you continue to allow these groups to chip away at those things that we cherish and value then we will wake up some morning and those things will be gone forever, not only for us but for our children and grandchildren. I for one am sick and tired of being castigated for my treatment of animals.
I submit that it is “line in the sand time.” I see no need to continue to apologize for my roots or my industry. I am intensely proud of my history and my heritage. I am proud of the way that we look after our animals. To attempt to convince those who are inconvincible, to win over those who are unwinnable is unfortunately a total waste of time. Rodeos are the vehicle that Cowboys have used for years to demonstrate their ranch skills. It may come as a real shock to some, but the only way that you can treat a sick calf on the open range is to rope it. If this group had their way here is what the Rodeo of the future could look like:
Instead of tie down roping, Cowboys will be supplied with Purina Dog Chow dishes filled with chop (that’s rolled grain for the uninformed) where calves will be enticed to cross a line in the infield through sweet utterings and whistlings made by the cowboys.
Bull Riding will now consist of mechanical bulls to test the rider, and the bulls will not be judged on their bucking ability, but on how long their eyelashes are. Bulls will receive points based on the color and design of bandannas that are lovingly wrapped around their testicles and points will be awarded for the creativity of the knots and bows used to secure the colorful scarves.
And let’s not forget Ladies Barrel Racing – soon to be called People Barrel Racing to make sure that the name is non gender specific. Here’s how this will work. Women and now men will be timed from the starting line where they will have to take off their cowboy boots and don a pair of Nikes whereupon they will lead the horses who will have halters and not bridles. The humans of course will have saddles cinched to their backs and not the horses. They will round the barrels on foot leading the horses and may the best man or woman win.
If we are not willing to engage those who would take from us that which is rightfully ours then we deserve to lose it. Steadfastness and not compromise must be the mantra. Our cause is just, and our future way of life hangs in the balance. I for one am no longer willing to tolerate these thrusts from the uninformed zealots who constantly bombard us with attacks on our way of life. Neville Chamberlain found out the hard way that to compromise is to forfeit. I for one don’t want to be placed in the position of having to tell my grandchildren what a great place a Rodeo was to see a marvelous demonstration of Cowboy (or should I say Cow/Bull Person?) skill and excellence and not be able to take them to one because we have allowed an important part of our heritage to be lost. I say “Hell No” and I hope you do as well.