In the classic Stanley Kramer film “High Noon”, the Marshall played by Gary Cooper tries in vain to roust up a posse of upright citizens to confront the on-coming bad guys. The viewer watches the town fathers squirm and yammer their way around doing what is presumably the right thing. Meanwhile, kids and drunkards display more resolve than their magistrates or their civic leaders. It’s a study in cowardice and submission, as well as one in strength. It takes place in a mythical Texas town in the late 1800s.
Today, the bad guys from Texas ARE the “town fathers” in a city that often comes across as mythical. They rode into Washington, DC last January on the Big Oil Express and took over the town. Instead of toting guns, however, they carried briefcases. Imagine our surprise as the previous town fathers caved in, offering only token resistance to what was little short of a palace coup. Now, six months later, drunk with power, the boys from Big Oil start tearing the place apart.
They’ve poisoned the wells. They’ve torn up treaties and documents. They’ve looted the treasury, sending the take to their corporado cronies out in the Badlands. Now, they are in the process of ransacking the very ground beneath our feet by disregarding previous laws meant to protect the planet and its inhabitants. The boys from Big Oil want more: more money, more oil, more submission. The latest insult comes in the form of a so-called energy policy that fattens their wallets while emptying ours. The recreants down at the newspaper office try to make it look good in print, but the citizens know it stinks. The preacher tries to rise above it all, but he knows the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who are indifferent. The boys with their bellies to the bar down at the saloon know who these desperados are, but there they sit, victims; slaves to the status quo. Who will stand up to these crooks? Who will defend this place?
In “High Noon”, it was a woman (a Quaker woman, at that) who finally came forward to help defend her town. She alone stood with the Marshall against the outlaws. While others hid in the presumed comfort of their homes or escaped reality in one form or another, the only two people in town with any semblance of integrity were in the street. Sound familiar? It’s High Noon.
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