Oct. 26 was the anniversary of the most famous showdown in Western history. On that day in 1881, two groups of armed men faced off near the OK Corral in Tombstone, Ariz., to settle a long brewing dispute.
Every American knows the story’s broad outline. Wyatt, Morgan and Virgil Earp, backed up by notorious gunman Doc Holliday, marched to the corral ostensibly to enforce Tombstone’s ordinance against carrying firearms in the city limits. Ike and Billy Clanton, along with Frank and Tom McClaury waited, armed — in violation of that ordinance.
Whether the lawmen opened fire on men attempting to surrender or opened fire in self-defense, we’ll never know. We do know the McClaury brothers and Billy Clanton died in a hail of lead.
Morgan and Virgil were wounded as was Holliday. We also know the gunfight would not have occurred if the Clantons and McClaurys hadn’t come armed into Tombstone that morning. They had, after all, been warned.
I’ve been thinking about this famous gunfight because, on Nov. 6, 2012, we may be witnessing another showdown of a different sort. On one side of the corral is the Office of Democratic Institutions (ODI HR), a branch of the U.N. affiliated Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
On the other side is the great state of Texas. As in the legendary 1881 shootout, tensions have been mounting for some time and, like the Clantons and McClaurys, the inspectors have been warned.
Here’s the background as I understand it. Texas passed a law requiring voters to present a valid ID in order to participate in Texas elections. Earlier this year, a federal judge blocked enforcement of that law. Evidently, some of the challengers to the Texas statute met in April with representatives of the United Nation's groups to voice concerns about the fairness of the upcoming election.