Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hey, Right-Wing Machos -- The Manassa Mauler Was A New Deal Democrat

I'm really sick of right-wingers acting like they're the ones who invented toughness. Some of the toughest people on this Earth have seen or have been in a lot of fights with hired toughs -- the kind of people they were up against don't usually have to do their own fighting, they can rent it out. Here's an example of one of the world's toughest dudes ever, who was a progressive, pro-union liberal!

On June 24, 1895, the day Jack Dempsey was born, during Grover Cleveland's second term as president, America was still discovering itself. Colorado, which had become the 38th state in 1876, lurched into an uproar of mining booms and busts, miners' strikes and mine owners' brutal and casual slaughters. Photographs survive of private armies maintained supposedly to keep order, and in practice employed to gun down union men. "Three dollars a day," the mine barons said in effect, "for ten hours or twelve. You'll live in our houses, buy in our stores, and do what you're told. If you don't like it, ten immigrants back East are ready to take your job." Touring one deep gold mine, Ulysses S. Grant said, "This is as close to hell as I ever hope to find myself."

Miners who protested for shorter hours, better pay, and safer conditions underground risked their lives up top. One typical private army, the Silver Queen Guards -- employed by the owners of the Silver Queen mines in Georgetown, thirty miles west of Denver -- was better uniformed than the U.S. infantry, and at least as formidably armed. Massacres of union men bloody the pages of history. Dempsey's later populism and passion for social programs such as Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal persisted after he became a multimillionaire. He said he never forgot, nor did he want to forget, the ferocity with which the mining barons treated working men and their wives and children.

-- From A Flame of Pure Fire: Jack Dempsey and the Roaring '20s, by Roger Kahn -- MJ


Jack Jodell said...

Interesting account, Manifesto Joe! Today's union-busters and anti-progressives are thankfully less physically brutal. But they're very sneaky and underhanded. They throw millions into massive disinformation and outright-lie campaigns on TV and radio, and subtly threaten workers on their jobs with dismissal. And as far as "toughness" goes, bullies are always blowhards who can dish it out but can't take it. Everybody knows the way to silence a bully is to punch him in the mouth when he's pushing his weight around. Say, that reminds me: Wasn't it Bush I or maybe Bob Dole who not that long ago were accusing Democrats of starting all the wars in the 20th century? So it wasn't always the conservatives who were "tough". And look at what the Repubs have done since Reagan---all they've been are international bullies!

Marc McDonald said...

George W. Bush is a real tough guy with a gun---as long as he's shooting at small furry creatures in the forest.

But when it comes to opponents who can shoot back, Bush (and his tough-talking, gun-loving friends like Dick Cheney) can be counted on to run and hide.

During the Vietnam War when heroes like John Kerry and Jack Murtha were getting shot at in the jungle, Bush and Cheney ran from serving in combat like the chickensh*t little cowards that they are.

Jack Jodell said...

I'm with you, Marc! Just like all loud-mouthed far-right bullies, Cheney, Limbaugh and Bush (sounds like a crooked law firm!) can always dish it out, but they can't take it.