Myths,legends and facts


In his comment on Audre’s post yesterday Pontiac said this, ” I find a simple comfort about them. There’s no complexity about them and even the conflict and politics is elementary – you have it, I want it! For the most part, though, the characters are just hardworking, close to the land and want to build something, whether it be their farm or family”.

I suspect for many of us that’s true, but for the best of the westerns, well Pilgrim, they go a lot deeper. Jessica explained it this way:

“This is the West, sir, when the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” One of my favourite quotations from any film, and it is what the newpaper editor, Scott, says to Jimmy Stewart’s character, Ransom Stoddard at the end of The Man who shot Liberty Vallance. Even for the great John Ford, that’s some line. Stoddard, a Washington grandee, former Ambassador to the UK and likely Presidential nominee, has come back to the town of Shinbone for the funeral of a local rancher, a nobody called Tom Doniphon, and the local press want to know why: Jimmy Stewart’s character tells them a story which is not just about how the West was won, but how it became civilized.

The story began quarter of a century before, when what is now the State was a Territory – with men who wanted it to stay that way. The young Stoddard is held up by a notorious outlaw, Liberty Valance, and pistol-whipped. Doniphon, a tough local rancher, takes him back to town and sets him up with the family who run the local canteen – his love interest, Hallie helps the wounded lawyer recover, and he helps out at the canteen – eventually falling foul of Vallance – played by Lee Marvin at his brilliant best. In a scene packed with tension, Doniphon tells Valance to pick up the food that’s been spilled by him tripping ‘Ranse’ Stoddard up: it looks like there will be a shoot out – but Vallance backs away – Doniphon’s that sort of a guy.

So, we have there the old West, men are men and all that. It;s rough and tough, and if you haven’t got a gun – or don’t know how to use it – you’re not going to get far – or even live long. But Stoddard is the new order’s forerunner. He believes in the law, sets up an office in Shinbone and works with the local editor as the Territory moves towards statehood.

Doniphon tries to help Stoddard adapt to the ways of the West, but an attempt to teach him how to use a gun is a failure. But Valance and his type are not to be stopped by the law. They beat up the editor and burn down the newspaper offices, and Valance challenges Stoddard to fight him. The first two shots see ‘Ranse’ injured, and he drops his gun – Valance, wanting to rub it in tells him to pick it up – sure the next shot will be right between the eyes – but to everyone’s surprise, the next shot kills Valance. Hallie runs to help the wounded Ranse. Doniphon, who actually fired the shot, sees that he has, in saving Stoddard, lost Hallie – he goes back home, drinks himself into a rage and burns his house down – being saved by his faithful retainer.

At the convention where the vote for who should represent the Territory in Washington is to be taken, Stoddard is challenged by a rival, who says that he should not be trusted because he shot a man. Soddard hesitates, wondering if that is actually the case – should a gun fighter be a politician. Doniphon removes his doubts by telling him the truth about the man who shot Liberty Valance. The rest is history, Stoddard becomes Governor, Senator and Ambassador, marries Hallie and has the career which opened up to men of his type as the United States moved towards its manifest destiny. Now Doniphon is dead, it is time to tell the truth – but the press don’t want the truth – the legend does them just fine.

So Doniphon, who had saved Stoddard’s life and made his career possible, dies alone and unheralded – but not quite, Hallie and Ranse have not forgotten him, or who he was, and who he was was more important than what he did. He did what he did because of who he was. He was the sort of man who did the right thing because it never occurred to him to do the other thing.

This is Ford’s world at its best – there’s no one does the old world making way for the new better. He admires the values of the old West, and he sees them re-embodied in a different form in the new. Doniphon and Stoddard are two sides of the same coin. Their integrity shines through – and Doniphon is all the more believable for not behaving like a plaster saint when he knows he has lost Hallie. Plaster saints neither won, nor will the hold, the West. And now, as then, the media prefer the legend to the facts!

Let’s think about that a little. How far is that from what we’re seeing these days in Minneapolis, in Seattle, in Chicago and New York, and yes, in London as well? Yes, Tom Stoddard was apocryphal but he existed all across this country, and it’s to him as much as to Jefferson and Madison that we owe the rule of law, the belief that might should be on the side of right.

When we talk about the western as the myth of America that is what we mean, the bringing of civilization out of the chaos. And don’t think for a minute that England never knew men lake Tom Stoddard. They did, William Marshal, First Earl of Pembroke is one of them, a warrior knight who made his fortune fighting in tournaments and wars, he is the man, acting with Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury who made Magna Charta the law for us all.

Jess was right here too when she said, “[…] and who he was was more important than what he did. He did what he did because of who he was. He was the sort of man who did the right thing because it never occurred to him to do the other thing.”

That is the legacy of the men that Antifa and BLM are so busy trying to make us forget. Why? Because they are the men that built our civilization, that their deepest desire is to destroy. Abraham Lincoln said that America is “the last best hope of mankind”. How right he was, if we in this generation go down, there will be nowhere left to run.

About Neo
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25 Responses to Myths,legends and facts

  1. Scoop says:

    From a recent interview with Bob Dylan:

    “There’s definitely a lot more anxiety and nervousness around now than there used to be. But that only applies to people of a certain age like me and you, Doug. We have a tendency to live in the past, but that’s only us. Youngsters don’t have that tendency. They have no past, so all they know is what they see and hear, and they’ll believe anything. In 20 or 30 years from now, they’ll be at the forefront. When you see somebody that is 10 years old, he’s going to be in control in 20 or 30 years, and he won’t have a clue about the world we knew. Young people who are in their teens now have no memory lane to remember. So it’s probably best to get into that mind-set as soon as we can, because that’s going to be the reality.

    As far as technology goes, it makes everybody vulnerable. But young people don’t think like that. They could care less. Telecommunications and advanced technology is the world they were born into. Our world is already obsolete.”

    Liked by 5 people

    • audremyers says:

      So America is in the dying process, which won’t be complete for another 20 or 30 years?

      Liked by 3 people

      • Scoop says:

        Thinks are always in a dying process and a rebirth. As to how that rebirth will look nobody has a clue . . . but we can guess.

        We, with a past, can see elements of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (which might better be called Fearful New World or Coward’s new World). Or one might see it as Orwell’s 1984. But then again surprises are not so surprising in history. The outcome is anybody’s guess.

        Liked by 3 people

      • the unit says:

        I like the “won’t.” 🙂


  2. audremyers says:

    A brilliant, and moving, article.

    Now I’m conditioned – they’ve made me conditioned – to ask myself, “Was Ranse Stoddard a Democrat?” And my answer is yes, he probably was. Was Atticus Finch a Democrat – with almost certainty. But those fictional characters both endorsed and supported the rule of law. I can’t, even in my most extreme imagination, imagine them recognizing, let alone supporting, the current Democrat Party or it’s membership. God only knows what those fictional men of principle would think of rioting and looting and taking over a City Hall.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. 39 Pontiac Dream says:

    Vallance represents the parasite. He has no plan beyond his own selfish desires and just like Antifa, his goal is to destroy, consume, move, rinse and repeat.

    Stoddard, however, represents the moral basis of civilisation – that through hard work and effort, he can persuade others into believing that the best way for a society to work, through peace, is for everybody to chip in and play their part. The rule of law is set not to hold people prisoners, like Antifa believes, but to provide a structure for everything else to work.

    Vallance/Antifa will always go for the easy route, the selfish route, where Stoddard’s way brings other people into the mix. It’s almost altruistic. When you break it down, it comes down to love for others – selflessness over isolation. To quote Morgan Freeman (from the movie, Seven), “It’s easier to steal what you want than it is to earn it. It’s easier to beat a child than it is to raise it. Hell, love costs: it takes effort and work.”

    Neither Vallance or his modern day counterparts believe in that which is why they will inevitably lose.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Scoop says:

      Indeed Valance, BLM and Antifa will lose . . . lawlessness is their only playing card. They are used by other autocrats and ideological movements and selfish folks who have more money than they have common sense . . . but they have an agenda. And believe me, they will have law. And when their law is established then the pawns will be sacrificed and the rest of us will be victims of laws which neither respect our privacy, our property, rights to free speech or self defense. We will be surveilled relentlessly to ‘keep the peace’ which will look like this practice run we are living through right now; house arrest (lockdown) unless permitted by the elites and social distancing (no gatherings over a small number of people) and our social messaging will be scrupulously examined, scrubbed from access by others and will perhaps relegate you among the missing: gulags, death camps etc.

      As Dylan said above, we have a history to draw upon and might know the various scenarios that might play out. But they have nothing but the here and now. They think they are accomplishing something for themselves but it appears to me that they are only useful idiots for the narcissistic cowards who are funding all of this.

      Liked by 4 people

      • 39 Pontiac Dream says:

        I agree to a point.

        You say, “they will have law” but the problem with the creating of a communist regime (unless it’s in countries like North Korea and China where the people have bought into it) is it will inevitably breed chaos and, as we’ve seen (now and historically), chaos breeds chaos. Their laws, in countries like mine and countries like yours, would only feed rebellion and boy, would there be an uprising.

        The left, should we not forget, don’t have anywhere near the numbers of the moral majority. They might have the media and, in some cases, parts of government in their pockets but that will only exist for as long as they’re useful – to each other and their generous benefactors. Rallying to the cause against an authoritarian structure would be easy and with the numbers, energy and hard work, would take little time to dismantle.

        I’m getting ahead of myself though. We’re not there yet. Yet is the operative word here. Our leaders must stand up to these idiots and quickly, otherwise they’ll find themselves out of a job come the next election.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Scoop says:

    I do wonder if the name Valance was chosen purposefully. For when one looks it up in the thesaurus one sees words like; shroud, screen and veil. It is something that distracts or obstructs a clear view though a window (into the future perhaps) and exists only for people to look at it rather than what lies beyond.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Nicholas says:

      Perhaps in conjunction with Liberty.The highwayman thought he was free, doing what he pleased, but he was a slave to sin and died in angry circumstances. True liberty comes from the Spirit, as St Paul says.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Scoop says:

        I totally agree. And it is true liberty which is veiled, order being deprived from other and hidden behind chaos.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          Well, we’re in a terrible mess now and it has me depressed. I can’t even be bothered to write posts now, I’m so unhappy.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          I fully understand that Nick. Many of us feel the same way. We wonder (without any way of truly knowing) how people could become so slavishly stupid and how silent good men can be as they fret and worry about how they will be viewed by their peers.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          There are several ways it hit me:
          (A) You probably saw the toppling of Colston’s statue; well, it so happens I live in Bristol (have done for over 15 years) and have passed by that statue very frequently.
          (B) While you and I have considered for years about things lurking beneath the surface, occasionally revealed at rallies and riots, to see it break out afresh on my home soil and see people say what they really think is still shocking. It is the lifting of a veil or mask as it were, and makes me feel very alone.
          (C) They are trying to destroy my nation’s history – to which they are not entitled, being strangers to my ancestors. I am an Englishman, and England has a right to its own history and heritage.
          (D) There is nowhere for me to go if England is destroyed. America, though I love you dearly, is not England – your ways are not identical to our own. Canada has forsaken its British heritage and New Zealand and Australia are rapidly walking away from theirs too. As for South Africa – well, the less said, the better.

          Of course, I do not assert the supremacy of my nation by any means, and I am ashamed of the slave trade. But there has been a consistent effort over the years to take what is ours or else destroy it – our own have betrayed us and have given our inheritance to strangers. And if we open our mouths to protest, we are silenced by a tirade of abuse, and not reasoned argument. My misanthropy continues apace and I largely want nothing to do with society now. I’m checking out.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          Our short history is so much shorter here in the U.S. but we were always proud of it and it is, or at least reflects, who we are as a people . . . where we came from and the principles that are leading us into the future. We even gave homage to the dead and the leaders of both sides of the civil war. That is America. We loved the fact that we could see the goodness even though we disagreed even to the point of death with one another.

          But now, look at us. They are destroying everything that represents this country and calling our heritage unjust, racist, misogynistic, immoral and every other slanderous names they can think of at the moment. They want to dismember the protectors and enforcers of law and order. My country is unrecognizable now. The technocrats, when they take over, will rule with an iron fist and some of the first to go will be their own goons whom they used to gain power. I am ashamed of being called an American at the moment until I see signs of our standing up to anarchists who hate our country and our history. The technocrats have the means and ability that no nation before them ever had: they know our every move and can quickly move to remove those who dissent from their ideology. These are frightening times.

          If you didn’t watch the videos I posted a few days ago, please watch them. Also, I am of the opinion that Fatima is central to all that the world is seeing at the moment. So if you can, read the LIfesite news piece that I linked to in today’s post. We live in the times that Our Lady warned us of . . . and gave us more than enough time to set things right,

          Liked by 2 people

        • Nicholas says:

          Although the CPS is aiming to prosecute people, I fear that their will be riots outside the trial venues and magistrates/judges may need protection. Frightening times indeed.

          I fear the Fatima visions were true and chaos is unleashed upon the world. I do not see how we can reason with these people, and our own reason is at risk as we ourselves are provoked to rage and alternately despair. The Church itself – and I know I am not a good man, but still – is consumed by betrayal and controversy. There are people calling themselves evangelicals wandering around destroying faith in the Gospel by alleging that the Evangelists fabricated, falsified, and distorted information and claiming this is acceptable. If these “scholars” were right, I’d abandon Christianity and curse Christians as perpetuators of an ancient lie. God be praised, it is not true – but how can we stand when our own will not defend the truth of the Gospel. Even Catholicism, that bastion of conservatism, isn’t conservative anymore. It’s truly ironic that fundamentalists and heretics look more sane than the lunatics running the asylum in mainline churches…

          Liked by 2 people

        • Scoop says:

          This coalition of Church and State has taken us out of equilibrium. For many, many years that is what held us from teetering too far to one side and perpetrating evil on others. But now with that equilibrium abolished it will take a new hierarchy of churchmen to extricate us from the sewer of the deep church and us voters to liberate us from the deep state politicians.

          I had the privilege of spending about 6 hours in conversation at my house with a seminarian who will become a priest in about 2 years. He is a TLM Catholic and holds to the old ways and the teachings to the letter. He spoke last night on the Eucharist at our Church and was excellent; far better than our liberal priest. If he is any indication of what might emerge from our seminaries in the future then we might find a way to balance the forces of good and evil in our societies. If not then the war is on and Christ must finish it.

          Liked by 2 people

      • the unit says:

        All I can say is…Y’all know you’re not “checking out”, ’til your day is done according to His plan.
        So stiffen up. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  5. the unit says:

    Oh well, more to say about movie stars, myths, legends, and factoids… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. the unit says:

    Keep rollin’ long as you can. Never saw this before. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: What is America for Mummy? | nebraskaenergyobserver

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