January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins: American Icon

200px-Molly_Ivins.jpgToday a genuine American treasure died. Molly Ivins was such a remarkable individual -- funnier than hell, sharp as a whip, the proverbial gadfly and a woman who had a heart as big as Texas. They don't make them like that anymore. I can't believe we will never get to read another column by her.

I remember how excited I was to hear Molly read from her book Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? and how wonderful it was to have her sign my copy. It was a book that had me rolling on the floor with laughter, yet the wisdom and generosity of spirit showed through on every piece. And it made me feel like I wasn't alone in my passion for a world that worked better for everyone. After all, before blogs, finding those few friends that were just as passionate and just as obsessed about politics, willing to talk about why it mattered for hours, and were liberal to boot was damn difficult. Molly showed us that we weren't alone.

And we had someone who played the game with remarkable panache. Using humor, Molly cut the pompous and power-hungry officials down to size. And she felt like that was the job of a real journalist.

Molly was a patriot through and through. Nothing made her madder than the evisceration of the Constitution, which she loved for defining a structure that could be used to create a government "of the people, by the people and for the people." And Molly loved the power of words and felt the freedom of speech was especially important. She truly did believe that everyone should have a chance to speak their piece, even if it was stupid. Here's how she put it in the 2003 graduation speech at the Columbia School of Journalism.

I am a great believer in making politics fun and encouraging those who do so. There was a splendid example of this a few years ago in Austin. The state legislature took a fit of communism and declared Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a state holiday. Now, don't worry, it was a package deal, we kept Confederate Heroes Day. It was ... honoring Dr. King, and as you can imagine, it upset the Ku Klux Klan and ... asked them to come to Austin to have a protest and rally and, many of you from more civilized parts would not know this, but it's a pain in the ass when the cluckers come to town.

It upsets the black citizens, it upsets the Jewish citizens. The skinhead kids turn out and cheer them on from the sidewalk, and everybody gets mad at everybody for a good six months. So, it is the duty, naturally, of all good civil libertarians to stand up for the right of these blue-belly nincompoops to spew whatever vicious drivel they want to, and that is a stand that is about as popular as a whore trying to get into the SMU School of Theology. It's not going to improve your standing with the neighbors, believe me.

So, a group of us civil libertarians gathered mournfully over a pitcher of beer down at the Zona Rosa Bar one afternoon discussing the clucker factor and came up with what we thought was a better plan. We don't have enough cluckers right there in Austin to have a good march. They had to be bussed in from Waco and Vider.

They got off the buses, wearing their little pointy hats on their little pointy heads and commenced to march up Congress Avenue. They were greeted by several thousand citizens of Austin ... on both sides of the street who mooned them as they marched. It made a real nice effect - it was kind of like a wave in a baseball stadium.

Now, that is the kind of thing that needs to be encouraged by generous coverage. The absurdity factor should never be underestimated. And, as you will discover, in the midst of the most dire circumstances, lunacy frequently breaks out and it should be pointed out.

Molly loved this crazy, rambunctious country and the people that made it so interesting.

Yet one thing that weighed on her mind at the end was what was happening to the country she loved. She knew that we had to do something to rein in the crazy people ruining the country. Her last two columns were all about what we as Americans must do to stop the madness. And as her editor said, by the time she was composing these cries from the heart, she was so weak she could not write the pieces, but had to dictate them to someone else.

Stand Up Against The Surge
The purpose of this old-fashioned newspaper crusade to stop the war is not to make George W. Bush look like the dumbest president ever....We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, "Stop it, now!"

Oh Molly, you will be sorely missed.

Posted by Mary at January 31, 2007 11:12 PM | Women | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

one of my favorite ivins quote came in 1992, after right-winger pat buchanan gave his neofascist speech at the GOP's national convention. asked her opinion of the speech, she said that 'it probably sounded much better in the original german.'

we'll not see her like again.

Posted by: Magpie at February 1, 2007 09:17 AM

I enjoyed reading her books.

Posted by: briAN at February 1, 2007 01:19 PM