Thursday, November 27, 2014

Maybe the country would be better off without Texas

Back in the 2010, there was a great deal of controversy in regard to the Texas Board of Education’s intention to rewrite history in the right-wing way; it recently approved multiple-modified history textbooks by a strict party-line vote, with all 10 Republicans voting for them, and all five Democrats (all minorities) voted against them. The party split itself demonstrates how right-wing Texas is trying to ignore the future and turn back the hands of time. It will ultimately fail; already a majority of Texas school children are minority, and the percentage will only grow. The voter ID law which the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately allowed in the past election showed how the right-wing is desperate to avoid eventual annihilation of at least its political power, and the Board of Education’s decisions on history teaching showed that it is unwilling to acknowledge this eventuality. 

While the right-wing members claim that more minorities than ever are mentioned in the new history texts, those who battled discrimination—of which Texas was as bad an offender as any Deep South state—in the quest for equal rights are given short shrift; incidental mentions of minorities take great pains not to educate minority students about the racism and discrimination of the past—and which continues today, albeit in more “subtle” ways. The racial terminology of the right has changed only in its cunning hypocrisy. 

The new texts are to include lavish praise on right-wing and conservative politicians and organizations—and provide almost no attention to minority politicians and civil rights activists (they, do however, mention feminist “icon” Margaret Sanger, since she advocated eugenics and abortion for the socially “unfit” and racial minorities). In every instance, the word “democracy” is replaced with “republic”; Of course, most historians and political scientists define this country as a “democracy”; the reason why the current breed of Republicans prefer the alternative term—besides the obvious—is that it implies rule by the privileged few.

One suspects that the right-wing’s intention is to “instill” in the minds of minority students that white people are in “control,” the reasons why, and why it should stay that way. It’s a fait accompli. Hopefully (for Republicans) enough will accept the second-class status the new history texts will attempt to implant in them, that some may actually vote against their own interests and for the white Republican. 

This past summer, Mike Binelli of Rolling Stone magazine profiled the current sad state of Texas politics. Remember in 2008 when left-wing commentators declared the Republican Party “dead,” because women and minority voters would “overwhelm” it’s mostly white male, voting base? That hasn’t happened, in large part because white female voters are not as “progressive” as some like to believe; the large majority are, in their own way, just as much and perhaps more self-involved about their “privileges” and victimology than white men.  This explains why 58 percent voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, and why the first female governor of the state of Wisconsin, or Democrat Wendy Davis in Texas, were not elected. 

I have already written about how fear of losing political control of state government—and through redistricting, control of the U.S House of Representatives—has persuaded states currently under Republican sway to pass laws intended to suppress minority voting. The one in Texas is particularly restrictive, and while the U.S. Supreme Court did not overturn lower court decisions to ban other such laws, it did see fit to overturn the ban of the Texas law, probably because the right-wing of the Court was “offended” by the strong language used by the Latino federal judge, who recorded a litany of continuing voter suppression laws passed in Texas in his decision; right-wing extremists like Scalia, Alito and Thomas don’t like their crimes of “judgment” thrown in their faces.

But things are much worse than that in the state where John F. Kennedy was assassinated; the extremist hate that was “shocking” to us then is hardly the “old news” we pretend to think of it as. In many ways, it is just as bad if not worse. Binelli writes that far-right extremist groups in Texas, like American Patriots, are everywhere. Paranoia about “gun rights, land rights, the surveillance state, genetically modified food and assorted other ‘liberty issues’” is such that when asked for evidence of this, the answer is likely to be "I don't know! That's the problem!" Binelli comments that “I couldn't have put it any better myself. They don't know; that's the problem. After nearly six years of pumping out cynical horror stories involving our nefarious president and a Washington bureaucracy run amok, the right-wing fear machine has managed to reduce its target audience to a quivering state of waking nightmare, jumping at shadows.” 

Binelli also noted that a prerequisite for being a right-wing bonafide in Texas—especially in the Tea Party—is “running around all the time screaming about how much (they) hate Obama." One Texas candidate for state office warned voters that "If I don't win, I don't care who does, because Texas isn't going to be able to survive, I'm afraid I know it sounds pretty dire. But I've read the last chapter of the book. I've seen the end of the movie. I know how it turns out." Binelli notes that most of the listeners of this speech were carrying weapons out for all to see. And they think that they are "the good guys”—and “good guys” always “win.” In Texas, of course, the “good guys” have to lie, cheat and physically threaten to “win.”

Dan Patrick (not to be confused with the former ESPN sportscaster) won election as the lieutenant governor of Texas, where as president of the state senate he will wield considerable power. This fanatic hosted his own right-wing radio program, which of course means he has no self-control whatever. Patrick apparently believes that anyone to the left of Adolf Hitler is too “liberal.” Binelli notes that an indication of just how extremist Texas has become is that Patrick defeated in the Republican primary two “establishment” candidates who would have been considered too extreme in other states. One, Jerry Patterson, noted with some bitterness that many voters “don't understand what the hell they (politicians like Patrick) were talking about. They were gullible. I think the Tea Party was a great thing. But it's at a crossroads now. The problem with the Tea Party right now is, they can be had very easily…You have a bunch of angry folks who are, frankly, angry for good reason, but they are also very, very gullible.”

Patterson blames his own primary loss on his support of allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the country if they serve in the military. Even this was too much for the state’s Hispanophobes: "All you got to do is say certain phrases and words – fill-in-the-blank cliché – and they go 'rah-rah' and applaud and you're the man. 'Secure our borders.' 'No amnesty.' 'Build a fence.' We have a history in this state, you know? My opponent for land commissioner last time was a guy named Hector Uribe. His family had been here for, I think, seven or eight generations. He was a Tejano. He had more Texas roots than I did. Notwithstanding that, somebody made some kind of pop-off comment about, you know, 'that Mexican,' or something like that. And I jumped on their shit. We have Tejanos who died at the Alamo! The vice president of the Republic of Texas was Lorenzo de Zavala. Juan Seguín was a hero at the Battle of San Jacinto. Those folks are just as Texan as we are.”

Patterson went on to say that "I'm not worried about Battleground Texas. I'm worried about the Republican Party. We should lose to them (Democrats) as opposed to surrender. Some of the stuff we're doing now is going to result in . . . well, actually, not a surrender, but a fight to the death, where all of us lose on the Republican side. We just got dumber than a rock. And immigration is one of those issues."

Unfortunately, Patterson’s call for common sense and accommodation with the future of the state is in short supply in Texas. Wide support for “open carry”—meaning the “right” to pack in full view anything up to and beyond a shoulder-fired anti-tank missile anywhere—is obviously a measure of the fear and paranoia of many people in the state. Some may claim that it is merely an “expression” of “in-your-face” civil liberty, but the reality is that the hate that actually inspires it is real and pervasive. While not all whites in Texas are “crazy” with paranoia and government conspiracy theorizing, it nevertheless must be observed that what FDR said so many decades ago, that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, seems to be the norm in Texas. Again, there is no actual proof of evil-doing to back-up such sentiments as "I truly believe there are people who would take away our freedoms and rule us by fiat. We're fighting a war with words. But if we fail, we will be fighting it with real guns, and my children's blood." 

We may be living in “dangerous” times, but the question is, who are the really dangerous people? Certainly we must put the people who most fear the loss of their “privileges” more than anyone. And who really wants to live in Texas anyways? Sure, there were many jobs created in the state after the 2008 financial bankster meltdown, but most of them are low-paying and minimum wage jobs, and the state has the highest “growth rate” of poverty. Health care benefits are only for well-off; the company I worked for at the airport offered a health care plan that was illegal in the state of Washington and classified as a “scam” by the state insurance commissioner. But it was “allowed” because the “situs” of the company is in Texas—where such scams against public welfare are “legal.”

I spent two years in Texas when I was in the Army, and never wanted to go back there. It’s odd, but many white people in Texas (and the South, for that matter) claim to be “Christians.” But these people have perverted religion no differently than Muslims who preach murder as the “path” to “paradise.” One wonders if any of these people ask themselves “What would Jesus do?” On the Sermon on the Mount, he said “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,”; “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”; “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”; “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”; “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy,” and “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. ”

Jesus clearly wasn’t talking about those with hatred of their fellow man in their hearts, or those blinded by fear, paranoia, racism, bigotry or their own self-serving greed. Nor was he talking about “open carry” fanatics “protecting” these “rights.” If there is a hell, that is where they should all be heading.

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