On Oct. 24, the Missoulian printed a letter-to-the-editor from Eadie Kubista of Stevensville accusing legendary conservationist, native Bitterrooter and friend, Stewart Brandborg, of everything evil in the world short of talking Eve into eating an apple.
Her letter, in other words, was mean-spirited and uninformed to say the least. It included many obvious gaffes, including misspelling Brandy’s name, inventing mean-sounding quotes that he never uttered, and confusing Karl Marx with Machiavelli who, contrary to Ms. Kubista’s attribution, wrote “the ends justify the means” several hundred years before Karl Marx was born.
Her fact-free narrative included all the far-right clichés that has so captivated the Republican Party these last twenty years and have been so worn out by them: A “radical firebrand” is using his “footsoldiers” “to bring down…government by any means”, through “character assassination” and “frivolous lawsuits” employing all the evil tricks of “communism” and “socialism” so clearly at his disposal. “Honest citizens” such as Ms. Kubista don’t stand a chance against the advance of his “left-wing assault troops”. Wow. What can one say?
Well, that there is an underlying truth in what she implies as to why we have such a toxic political environment here in Ravalli County. As one who’s observed and participated within that environment for many years I can certify to anyone interested in reality that her words are a classic example of ignorant statements and attitudes devoid of historical context and repeated ad nauseum by a closed group of people to the point where the whole ridiculous narrative goes unchallenged and passed on to newcomers like the Kubistas as “the truth”, who in turn repeat it while having no idea what they are really saying, or how mean-spirited it really is. After all, evil’s evil, right? So that’s that, right?
Wrong, and how obviously sad. But worse, contrary to many newcomers who fit the above definition of moving here from urban areas and internalizing provincial, bigoted attitudes they think help them “fit in” without realizing just how groundless they really are, the Kubistas know better.
Newcomers though they are (they’ve been here since 1999, I believe), the Kubistas have chosen to be far-right operatives who helped elect three new commissioners and a county attorney spouting Freeman/Posse Comitatus-style rhetoric. In their first short year in office, these commissioners have tried to close down our Family Planning Clinic over birth control, fired twenty good county employees (almost exclusively the lowest-paid women) under ideological “budget constraints”, hired their local Republican Central Committee boss as our top planner even though his only previous experience in planning has been skirting existing regulations, and illegally spent $47,000 (more than their entire “budget shortfall”) to improve a political benefactor’s subdivision road.
The Kubistas have also been intimately involved with the new commissioners’ most blatantly undemocratic, self-serving waste of time: their spending thousands of “budget shortfall” dollars on a far-right, wise-use industry front-group, American Stewards of Liberty, to shepherd them into the dark waters of “county supremacy” by asserting that the county has equal standing with the federal government in wolf management. Ms. Kubista, in other words, doesn’t deserve the excuse of a newcomer’s naiveté when repeating the ignorant nonsense as she did.
To state the obvious: Stewart Brandborg and his family are as responsible as anyone alive for the vast tracts of unspoiled landscapes we all live here for—which might possibly include the Kubistas. If you’re on the wrong side of the Brandborgs you’re on the wrong side of history, and when the history of this place is dispassionately written a few decades from now, unrepentants like the Kubistas will be sad little footnotes compared to Brandy and his family’s accomplishments. If understanding that makes me one of his “footsoldiers”, then sign me up. I’ll gladly give the Brandborgs full credit for urging me and many others to think beyond the teeny little boxes some people insist on living within.
Finally, if Ms. Kubista insists on bringing up Machiavelli, it’s fair game to point out that “the ends justify the means” is a much more apt slogan for Karl Rove-style Republicans than for classic conservationists like Brandy. If the intent of her letter was to claim that she and her tea party friends are the only “honest citizens” in Ravalli County, while those who disagree with militia-freeman concepts like county supremacy are not, then it’s fair game to point this out also: that the “Tea Party movement” has demonstrated over and over again to be intellectually dishonest at best. “Left-wing assault troops” like Stewart Brandborg and his friends, who believe in taking such things as community, environmental integrity and reality seriously are—at worst—not.