FLASHBACK 1985: Ron Yengich gives U.S. AG Ed Meese a chance | City Weekly REWIND | Salt Lake City Weekly
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FLASHBACK 1985: Ron Yengich gives U.S. AG Ed Meese a chance

Civil Liberty ala Meese



In commemoration of City Weekly's 40th anniversary, we are digging into our archives to celebrate. Each week, we FLASHBACK to a story or column from our past in honor of four decades of local alt-journalism. Whether the names and issues are familiar or new, we are grateful to have this unique newspaper to contain them all.

Title: Civil Liberty ala Meese
Author: Ron Yengich
Date: September, 1985


The sun shines upon all alike
The rain falls on every roof.

—African Proverb

I'll keep on fighting for the thing I want,
Though I know that when you're dead you can't
But, I'd rather be a freeman in my grave
Than living like a puppet or a slave.

—Jimmy Cliff, "The Harder They Come"

I always say give a man a chance. If he says he can fly, let him jump off a building and flap his wings. If he breaks his beak, well at least I didn't stand in his flight path. That's why I say let's give United States Attorney General Edwin Meese a chance. I mean, if a Republican says he's a "champion of minorities" and that he considers himself "in the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement in this country today," then dad-gum it, who are we to say he isn't. Oh, we can snidely joke that because of the Reagan Administration there is no Civil Rights Movement in this country today . . . the only real movement in civil rights is backwards. But, let's give the man a chance. I realize it took over a year to confirm Meese after vicious attacks by the Liberals in Congress. I mean, what's a little conflict of interest, a sinecure here, a political job there. After all, Ted Kennedy never had to give away a job to stay in politics. Hell, his old man made enough money when graft was fun (Prohibition) so the Kennedys never had to bargain a political favor away. And some called what Ed Meese did pork barrel. Hell, it didn't have anything to do with Agriculture, did it Ed?

Let's give the man a chance. I know it's unlikely, but I believe in miracles. I voted for McGovern and I actually believed a decent human being like Frances Farley could defeat a political windbag like David Monson. I've even stood on my hind legs in court and argued that my client was actually home with his mother when the crime occurred. I believe in miracles and taking people at their word.

I think it's nice somebody in the Old Cowboy's Administration finally has that old 60s fervor for civil rights and equality. (Hum The Youngbloods' anthem "Get Together" here.) Let's face it, when was the last time anyone from the new telocracy (Government of the television, by the television and for the television) uttered this type of blasphemy: "There is no one who is more adamant in defense of civil rights ... more opposed to discrimination in any form ... more a champion of minorities, and of all citizens for that matter, than I am." You don't get those sentiments from the Parson to Ronnie's Bunkhouse, Old Reverend Jerry Foulball. Nope, Old Reverend Jerry even called Bishop Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a "phony." Sounds like the deity to whom Old Reverend Jerry prays has an all white congregation sometimes, doesn't it?


And that brings me to the point. Don't you wonder whether or not Ronnie and his ranch hands on Pennsylvania Avenue know what apartheid is? The way they've been treating the tragedy in South Africa with "constructive engagement" (i.e. don't mess with our investments) makes you think that no one has explained to them that apartheid is the "official policy of racial segregation promulgated in the Republic of South Africa with a view to promoting and maintaining white ascendancy." (The American Dictionary of the English Language, 1969). But now we've got someone who can explain this to them. Given Ed's statements, maybe he could take some Jimmy Cliff or Bob Marley albums to a cabinet meeting, or a video of "The Harder They Come," put a little Reggae on Ronnie and the boys to explain that lots of Third World black folks are tired of "de white man, steppin on dem, mon." And since Ed's a lawyer, maybe he could open up the books and explain to them that this country is supposed to be a leader in the fight for the equality of all men. Maybe he could stick a nice large lawbook in Parson Jerry's mouth when he gets up to give the bunkhouse benediction.

So, let's give him a chance and to help him out, I suggest that we all drop Old Ed a line. Something like:

The Honorable Edwin Meese
United States Attorney General
Tenth & Constitution Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20530
Dear Ed:
Happy to see a civil rights activist like yourself in our government. You sure fooled the conservatives. Now that you've got the President's ear, how about explaining to him that South Africa's policy of apartheid is racism in its most blatant and uncompromising form and the United States should immediately take measures to divorce itself from any support for the white supremist South African Government.

Of course, if there's a football game on the tube and you don't want to take the time to write your own letter, just clip my example and sign your name.