Thursday, February 01, 2007

Memories of Molly

Ever since I was a little girl I loved the iconoclast, the rebel, the bad girl, the one who saw the inequity and nonsense and played it back to me with a style that left me wiping tears of laughter from my eyes one moment and gasping at the courage of the author the next.

Molly Ivins was such a woman...

The Nation - Washington Correspondent John Nichols (in the first of a series of remembering Molly) had this to say:

"The warmest-hearted populist ever to pick up a pen with the purpose of calling the rabble to the battlements, Ivins understood that change came only when some citizen in some off-the-map town passed a petition, called a Congressman or cast an angry vote to throw the bums out. The nation's most widely syndicated progressive columnist, who died January 31 at age 62 after a long battle with what she referred to as a "scorching case of cancer," adored the activists she celebrated from the time in the late 1960s when she created her own "Movements for Social Change" beat at the old Minneapolis Tribune and started making heroes of "militant blacks, angry Indians, radical students, uppity women and a motley assortment of other misfits and troublemakers."

"Troublemaker" might be a term of derision in the lexicon of some journalists--particularly the on-bended-knee White House press pack that Ivins studiously refused to run with--but to Molly it was a term of endearment. If anyone anywhere was picking a fight with the powerful, she was writing them up with the same passionate language she employed when her friend the great Texas liberal Billie Carr passed on in 2002. Ivins recalled Carr "was there for the workers and the unions, she was there for the African-Americans, she was there for the Hispanics, she was there for the women, she was there for the gays. And this wasn't all high-minded, oh, we-should-all-be-kinder-to-one-another. This was tough, down, gritty, political trench warfare; money against people. She bullied her way to the table of power, and then she used that place to get everybody else there, too. If you ain't ready to sweat, and you ain't smart enough to deal, you can't play in her league."

Molly Ivins could have played in the league of the big boys. They invited her in, giving her a bureau chief job with the New York Times--which she wrote her way out of when she referred to a "community chicken-killing festival" in a small town as a "gang-pluck." Leaving the Times in 1982 was the best thing that ever happened to Molly. She settled back in her home state of Texas, where her friend Jim Hightower was about to get elected as agricultural commissioner and another friend named Ann Richards was striding toward the governorship. As a newspaper columnist for the old Dallas Times Herald--and, after that paper's demise, for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram--Molly began writing a political column drenched in the good humor and fighting spirit of that populist moment. It appealed beyond Texas, and within a decade she was writing for 400 papers nationwide


As it happened, the populist fires faded in Texas, and the state started spewing out the byproducts of an uglier political tradition--the oil-money plutocracy--in the form of George Bush and Dick Cheney.
It mattered, a lot, that Molly was writing for papers around the country during the Bush interregnum. She explained to disbelieving Minnesotans and Mainers that, yes, these men really were as mean, as self-serving and as delusional as they seemed. The book that Molly and her pal Lou Dubose wrote about their homeboy-in-chief, Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (Random House, 2000), was the essential exposé of the man the Supreme Court elected President. And Ivins's columns tore away any pretense of civility or citizenship erected by the likes of Karl Rove.

...
Keeping a promise she'd made when her old friend and fellow Texan John Henry Faulk was on his deathbed, Molly accepted a steady schedule of invites to speak for local chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union in dozens of communities, from Toledo to Sarasota to Medford, Oregon. Though she could have commanded five figures, she took no speaker's fee. She just came and told the crowds to carry on for the Constitution. "I know that sludge-for-brains like Bill O'Reilly attack the ACLU for being 'un-American,' but when Bill O'Reilly's constitutional rights are violated, the ACLU will stand up for him just like they did for Oliver North, Communists, the KKK, atheists, movement conservatives and everyone else they've defended over the years," she told them. "The premise is easily understood: If the government can take away one person's rights, it can take away everyone's."
She also told them, even when she was battling cancer and Karl Rove, that they should relish the lucky break of their consciences and their conflicts. Speaking truth to power is the best job in any democracy, she explained. It took her to towns across this great yet battered land to say:

"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20070219/molly_ivins

Good night Molly Ivins, thanks for your time on the planet.

Mother Earth and Father Sky
From whence we come
then return to die,

Please hold Molly safe, and know for sure
a treasure she is
tested, true and pure.

Blessed Be.

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