History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misdeeds of mankind. — Edward Gibbon 1737 — 1794
IN THE LUSTY DAYS. . . when the surge of civilization pushed onward to broader horizons. . . and a mighty breed of man wrested new life from the wilderness. . .
But close on the pioneer trail came the renegade hoards, land sharks, highwaymen, cattle thieves, terrorizing settler and tribesman alike!
Ironically, the masked man, the “Lone Ranger”— was never actually alone. He was always accompanied by a “faithful Indian companion” called “Tonto,” variously translated as “wild one,” “stupid,” or “fool.” This faithful Potawatomi Indian apparently felt he owed his life to the Strange Ranger, and willingly forsook tribe and family for a life of crime in the name of illegal vigilante justice, riding around frontier towns on his pony “Scout,” and kicking ass with a guy in a mask and a skin tight powder-blue jumpsuit.
The Ranger wore the same outfit 24-7, made from a special fabric which shed trail dust like water off a duck’s back, a manly man who never looked twice at a frontier gal, and a frontier gal never looked twice at him; perhaps it was the fact he used perfect grammar and precise speech, completely devoid of slang and colloquial phrases, and rode a big white stallion named “Silver” that was at least as intelligent as he was.
And he thought nothing about exploiting an old prospector’s willingness to provide him with enough silver to make semi-precious ammunition for 78 weekly episodes, and he thundered across the West shooting the renegade vampire hoards with silver bullets, but never shooting to kill, but rather only to maim his opponents as painlessly as possible. Tonto managed to get by on the regular ammunition.
Surprisingly the “renegade hoards,” aka, Western terrorists, they rooted out with bullets were not brown, yellow, or black, but exclusively white males. They were usually found in highly organized sleeper cells, intent on corrupting the innocent, God-fearing frontier communities of the West. They had no trouble getting their hands on the weapons of mass destruction of the day— dynamite— and never hesitated to bust a cap on anyone who got in their way. And they almost always demonstrated a virulent hatred of the “red man.”
This invariably spelled trouble for Tonto, who was inexplicably sent into infested communities to “scout around” for corruption by the “Kemosabe,” (variously translated as, “Trusty Scout, “friend,” “white man,” “horse’s ass,” “he who knows nothing,” “clueless” and “soggy bush”). Naturally, like a red cape in front of a bull, the town terrorists immediately labeled him a “murderin’ Indian,” and a lynch mob formed, seemingly by instant-osmosis, turning once decent town’s folk into a murderous hoard bent on, well, illegal vigilante justice.
The original American traitors, citizens gone bad, were almost always known to local law enforcement, this being small town America after all, where everybody knows everything. These traitorous terrorists ruled by fear and intimidation, thus justifying the vigilantism meted out by the American Zorro and his Indian sidekick.
And this early televised portrait of the social and moral fabric of early America endures, as our American Cowboy in the White House metes out vigilante justice to the rest of the world as he sees fit. But the distinction between which variety of vigilantism we, as a nation represent, has become hopelessly blurred. Is it the clueless horse’s ass, Soggy Bush and his sidekick, or is it the renegade hoardes, meting out vigilante justice on the hapless frontier nations of the third world.
History will not be kind.