Op-Ed

Khizr Khan voice of gentleness, Ralph Stanley of mountains

Khizr Khan, father of a Marine killed in Afghanistan, spoke during the Democratic National Convention, challenging GOP president Donald Trump to read the U.S. Constitution.
Khizr Khan, father of a Marine killed in Afghanistan, spoke during the Democratic National Convention, challenging GOP president Donald Trump to read the U.S. Constitution.

Somebody said Tie Rod’s wife, Big E, was outspoken. Tie Rod wanted to know by who. If he and her were up there at a convention, she would be the one talking and he would be the one hunkering. Kind of like the Clintons, right now.

But he thinks, of all the tricks ISIS has pulled (he would call it ISIL, if the president would only explain why he calls it that), the slickest trick them terrorists has pulled is sneaking a Muslim couple into a political convention to sway the voters with some Old Testament-like truth.

After all, if Donald Trump would have won, ISIS would be defeated by the second Tuesday in February. To stop that they send in Khizr Khan, the gleaner the world awaited, to remind us that gentleness, like violence, is not unique to any particular religion, and that neither is evil.

Tie Rod thinks that sooner or later they will have to do away with nations and let the Middle East and maybe everywhere go back to having tribes in tribal areas. His life is now at risk because some Muslims read their bible different from some other Muslims. That, and the fact that the internet has put the most dangerous information possessed by mankind in the easy reach of all the religious fanatics.

Tie Rod calls that a worldwide globe job, and recommends that the internet be shut down immediately and forbidden. He remembers reading somewhere about partaking of the tree of knowledge and how it screws up Eden. He dreams of peace and a Peshmerga v. Kurd soccer game.

Tie Rod and Slemp and dozens of other mountain folk took to their beds and like to have never got over the death of Ralph Stanley, the true voice of the mountains.

Melvin Goins’ passing may kill them both. After all, these two once got in a fist fight arguing whether Del McCoury or Gustav Dudamil was the best band leader.

Stanley traveled millions of miles taking the old music of the mountains to the world, and when he opened his mouth to sing, you could hear every inch of it. Primitive, Old Regular, and Freewill Baptist sounds, rhythms on the banjo which go back to just north of the Gambia River, fiddling from our Irish and Scotch ancestors, put to the poetry of one of the most underrated poets in American history — Carter Stanley.

Instead of listening to poets recite and wave their hands, Tie Rod and Slemp listened to the Stanley Brothers, or merely the Stanley brother, singing “Riding tonight in a high cold wind, on the trail of the old Lonesome Pine,” followed by a ‘G’ run. Whiskey-driven music.

Toward the end, Tie Rod and Slemp had to share Ralph Stanley with the world. They were proud, but hated to lose him. Before that, Ralph was sort of a private thing that the people of Eastern Kentucky and the suburbs of Eastern Kentucky kept to themselves.

They watched as fake hillbillies like Jim Lauderdale diluted the powerful music of the Stanleys. Give Tie Rod and Slemp power over smooth any day. It tickles them that some of the more recent Bluegrass bands are crossing back.

Reach Larry Webster, a Pikeville attorney, at websterlawrencer@bellsouth.net.

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