By Ernie Over
It’s not often to see a standing-room-only audience for an author’s talk at the Riverton Branch Library, but that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday. Wyoming author, former state legislator and agency director Rodger McDaniel, who also preaches at a Cheyenne Church on Sunday, was in town to talk about his latest book: “Profiles in Courage: Standing Against the Wyoming Wind.”
“It’s a book intended to encourage courage by reminding people what it looks like and showing people that over the history of the state there have been some really incredible people, some in political life, some in private life, who have exhibited enormous courage in the face of what some people might deem social and political threats,” McDaniel said.
The book tells 13 stories of four groups of people and the rest of individuals. They vary from the man who led the fight for marriage equality in Wyoming, to a cross-dressing man who was a professor at Casper College, to the Simpson family from Cody, and, most recently, former Congresswoman Liz Cheney’s response “in the face of Donald Trump’s determination to destroy the Republic,” according to McDaniel.
“I always liked JFK’s book “Profile in Courage,” I’ve read it several times over the years and most recently I read it again and realized there are stories of profiles in courage in Wyoming history,” he said. “So, I decided to tell those stories in a good way to convey Wyoming history to young people and others to tell the whole history of the state and how people responded to it.”
During McDaniel’s talk, other people in the audience gained the courage to tell their stories, including a woman who self-identified as a Lander lesbian who asked McDaniel about the influence of religion in current politics and hate speech.
“Religion in government has been ingrained them, it’s generational,” McDaniel said. “Blacks, LGBTQ persons, and other minorities are doomed to hell in their churches, and that has continued to be the case today,” he said.
State Senator Cale Case, also responding to that question, said, “People are very afraid. It’s the worst emotion – fear. People are terrified of change and that life will not be the same.” Case said it’s a terror that is not rational. “I’ve seen the fear. People are afraid they won’t be in control anymore. They don’t remember when we all got along together.” He said that fear makes people more susceptible to conspiracy theories.
Other books that McDaniel has penned include “Howard Zinn & Lois Mottonen – Fistfight in the Equality State,” “The Sagebrush Gospel,” “Dying for Joe McCarthy’s Sins – The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt,” and “The Man in the Arena – The Life and Times of Wyoming U.S. Senator Gale McGee.”
McDaniel’s books may be ordered from his website at 5mcdanielbooks.com.