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These are not “Western” values ​​• Daily Montanan

As much as I can’t even fathom the global anger being channeled toward Pierre, South Dakota, and its now most infamous resident, Governor Kristi Noem, there is one person who should feel so much better.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte must feel like a weight has been lifted off his shoulders.

Governor Punchy managed to attack a reporter during his campaign and still won a seat in Congress. And then re-election. And then a re-election. They have become the basis of so many embarrassing conversations.

When I’m abroad, people ask where I’m from.

Montana.

Isn’t that where that one man…

Reporter, yes. He is our governor.

Pause.

More pause.

Did he hit you?

And I can tell you, dear readers, that the conversation there can take many different turns, depending on the day and the mood. And let’s be real for a moment: If Governor Gianforte decides to restart his short-lived media boxing career, I’m a slow-moving, big target whose nose is already broken.

But Noem did something far more heinous than literally flying at a reporter. She shot an exuberant, albeit poorly trained, hunting dog and then apparently turned it into a career that involved the killing of a goat (checks notes) apparently being a goat. And if you like horses, you won’t enjoy the rest of her stories.

Let’s say my new threat in the house and office is: don’t let me take you to the gravel pit.

Besides, how many animals do you have to kill in a gravel pit before it becomes a pet cemetery?

I have to hand it over to our neighbors to the east. Not only have they turned a pile of carved rocks into an amazing tourist attraction, but they may now have people who actually want to go and see a gravel pit.

For so long, Montanans have suffered the shame of seeing a man repeatedly rewarded for attacking a member of the free press. In many ways, Gianforte’s actions were a precursor to what was to come in the Trump era. Somehow, Gianforte’s battle with reporter Ben Jacobs has diminished not only by time, but also by a series of shocking events — from the sitting president calling a bunch of white supremacists “very fine people,” to an insurrection that threatened the peaceful transfer of power. to seriously consider the argument that a president could use Seal Team Six to assassinate a political rival.

But Noem’s political suicide may burnish her image in some corners of politics these days: People may be coming to her for the same reason they supposedly love Donald Trump, the man Noem is auditioning as a potential vice presidential candidate. Some like Trump and possibly Noem because they seem to speak bluntly or “tell it like it is.” But that combines clarity with cruelty, and half-truths with whole truths.

For example, having to ‘kill’ animals is a harsh reality in rural life or in agriculture. But that’s very different from killing an animal because it’s an animal – and it’s insulting to believe that only rural people can understand that.

It’s also curious that both governors call the American West home. It’s almost as if we tolerate or accept these acts of aggression or cruelty because we fool ourselves that we need to be tougher here in the big flyover zone. And we have the belt buckles to prove it.

And the gravel pits.

Recall that while campaigning in Montana, Trump referenced Gianforte’s attack and said the governor was “my man.”

But heavy use of guns or fists to solve everyday problems makes for exciting movies and great country songs, but it is not the real history of states like Montana and South Dakota – communities that were forced to work together to survive, not on to shoot each other. I can think of so many stories about rural communities where neighbors helped neighbors, whether at harvest time or during hard times.

And where would we be in Montana without our animals, like horses or dogs? Or grizzly bears? Or elk?

Let us not forget that Gianforte, although he did not rush to prematurely end the life of a rogue hunting dog, still decided to kill an already injured wolf.

Those of us who have lived in the West for most of our lives understand how harsh and unforgiving the country can be. It’s actually part of the beauty. You live with a certain humility, knowing that there are powerful forces that can still affirm your small place in the world, and that in some places the sky still seems to stretch on forever without the slightest sign of human habitation.

And that’s why both Noem and Gianforte play on a stereotype, but not on reality. It’s a tough look, but not an honest look at the nuances of life in such wild, untamed places.

Some of our leaders like to make us feel special: that only other fellow Westerners would understand what they are doing. You know, wink, wink.

Because we come from the same places, it means we respect life for its fragility; and we tolerate and encourage a free press because we are Americans who happen to come from the West and not the other way around.

You can’t be pro-life and pro-gravel quarries (if you’ll excuse the analogy), just like you can’t be pro-First Amendment and call a reporter.