The Lies of Texas Are Upon You

Posted in: Featured | By: | September 04, 2009

“Life in Lubbock, Texas taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell.  The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.” – Butch Hancock, Texas Musician, The Flatlanders

A friend called to talk about his daughter being caught in the middle of one of the kinds of controversies that only happen in Texas. His daughter’s teacher had sent an email that her school was not going to show the president’s national address to students in their school. My buddy Marcus is African-American and Native American, holds two degrees, and does not very well countenance stupidity and hypocrisy.

“It’s not exactly a political speech,” he said. “He’s going to tell kids to work hard and stay in school and get a good education, and take personal responsibility for their actions.”

“Of course not,” I conceded, “But Obama is a democrat and African-American and this is Texas.”

“Yeah, well, I’m going to get Mia from class and bring her home to watch the speech and then take her back. This is garbage.”

Actually, it is more like intellectual pus, a kind of deadly ooze that keeps infecting our national discourse. We tell people not to mess with Texas but that’s because we reserve the right to mess it up ourselves, which we are doing quite effectively. This latest hypocrisy, though, is almost beyond imagining, but is a logical next de-evolutionary step for progressive thinking under the Lone Star.

During the campaigns and administrations of both Presidents Bush and Ronald Reagan, speeches and public appearances were almost mandatory for students and the religion of those leaders was forced on the crowds gathered in the taxpayer built gymnasiums. I cannot count the times that I attended political rallies as a journalist during school hours where students were told to leave class and come provide a crowd for the Republican candidates. Invariably, at many of these, I was standing next to my friend, a Pulitzer-winning journalist who is Jewish, as a Christian prayer was offered and the name of Jesus was invoked. Nobody saw the contradictions and hypocrisies.

In Texas, we see this as a positive attribute, taking kids out of classes for candidate rallies and force feeding them the candidate’s religion. Hell, we’re doing even better than that in our school system. A number of boards of education have voted to begin teaching the bible in public schools. A statement from a school board in Central Texas indicated that the class will be optional and will teach the bible as “an historical document.” Oddly enough, we aren’t teaching about the Koran’s historical impact and power and that might be a handy piece of knowledge in the future for our children. I think the constitution is as clear on this matter as it is on the right to keep and bear arms. Church and state are to be separated. No damned religion of any kind or any of its texts should be taught in public schools.

But this is Texas and the long, proud march backwards presses on; except we may soon begin dragging the nation with us into the 18th century. Because so many textbooks are published for our vast public school system, the curriculum standards adopted by the Texas State Board of Education have great influence beyond the Red and Sabine Rivers. Annually, while the rest of the world has acknowledged science, our textbook committee has to debate creationism and intelligent design and including religious faith in science books. When science rears its little head we have the bludgeons to whack it back into a hidey-hole, and when politics moves away from progressive, free-thinking, historical analysis, we teach the Rovian Revisionism of great events and personalities.

The newest effort by our school board is designed to make certain our students know that McCarthyism wasn’t all that bad and that students need to be able to identify significant conservative organizations and leaders. This is coming out of the textbook committee’s latest hearings and, even though board members want Texas children to learn about conservatives, whom they identify in their recommendations, they make no point to mention progressive groups or personalities. According to TalkingPointsMemo, one of the board members griped about “too much emphasis on multiculturalism” when it was noted that World War II led to greater female and minority employment. Another member, scribbling in the margin of a critique of the textbooks notes that, “…if McCarthyism is noted, then the Venona papers need to be explained that exonerates him.” (Fabulous grammar from a Texas public school grad risen to political prominence.) There was also a note suggesting that Charlton Heston’s speech on the culture war, which made conservative hearts pound with joy, was a good topic for a textbook’s section on “effective leadership.” The standards on Richard Nixon say that the text should “describe his role in the normalization of relations with China and the policy of détente.” Maybe, just maybe, we can squeeze in a line about Watergate and resignation in disgrace and nearly destroying the constitution with corruption but be certain you cover China and détente.

So this is Texas, folks, created by god 10,000 years ago with all fossils and fossil fuels in place, where black presidents are not allowed to encourage our children, there are two sides to every story, even McCarthyism, Richard Nixon is the man that saved the world, and the bible is a text book, and FOX NEWS is on every TV screen in every airport and public place in the land. I suppose I’m obligated to mention that our governor is aligned with a secessionist group and appears at rallies citing our constitutional right to secede and, oh, I forgot to tell you about how we voted three to one in 1975 to ban gay marriage.

Y’all come on down.

22 Comments for this entry

  • Lee Dunkelberg

    Well put. Sad, but true.

  • Pete Gillespie

    Rather than listen to any more whining secessionists from the ugliest state in the union I suggest we sell Texas on Ebay. After all there is a long and honorable tradition of nations selling off unwanted territory to other nations. I’m sure we could get a few bids from lowlying countries looking for higher ground to move to when the oceans rise. In fact the Maldives are already looking for a new land.

  • Diane

    Don’t you remember a McCain rally fro President when they emptied the local school district and bussed them to that rally? I wonder if parents had a choice then?

    I think that ANY school district that does not show the Presidents address should lose federal funds for that day.
    Harsh? I don’t think so. This is the man that signs the budget that gives them the money to operate their schools.
    If he is so powerful yet so abhorrent to so many parents, let them foot the bill for that day at school.

  • Winski

    What you’ve outlined is the on-going strategy implemented thruout the south to keep that part of the country behind the rest of global society by approximately 50 years. It is particularly obvious if you look more than one layer deep in texas especially evidenced by the latest succession talk from your dumb-ass governor…

    I, quiet frankly Jim, don’t know how you stay down there..Your IQ is obviously greater than a cup of grits, which is high for most people in texas, and even with a lot of time to acquire and develop friendships, it’s gotta be hard to cope….I finally threw in the towel in the 1980’s…It’s seem to be WAY worse now…

  • UnionGuy

    The mentality of Texas is also in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, the Dakotas and just about anywhere else with a rural majority population. The indoctrination these people (some are my relatives) have received at early ages is simple astounding and the depth of their shallow beliefs is beyond logical explanation. They believe their ways are the correct ones and anything that is different represents an immediate threat to their survival or way of life.

    What passes for political conservatism is very much war-mongering uber-nationalism all in the name of a Xtian “god.” The concept of Manifest Destiny seems to define their view of the outside world, i.e. any place further than the county line. Some of the most fascist statements come from the mouths of those who *remember* Hitler, but the don’t understand they use his tools.

    Diane, you propose a *user fee*? I’m shocked, that’s so… so… Rubepublican! LOL


  • NoOneYouKnow

    While I appreciate the suggestion that Texas be sold to someone who will make better use of the space, we have to acknowledge that it’s not the state itself that’s problematic, but many of its current (human) inhabitants.
    I recommend that Texas be marketed as a “promised land” for wingnuts of all stripes: fundies, fascists, corporatists, straight-up morons, etc. We can then quietly “secede” it (we’ll act very disappointed to see it go) and slowly sequester its more noxious products: football fans, evangelists, politicians, schoolbooks, oil companies, ‘bidnissmen’ and the like. People who pass a test for relative normalcy will be allowed to emigrate to where the not-so-crazy people live and given special visas to allow them to visit their wacko Waco relatives on special occasions.
    Eventually, I foresee Texas as a kind of free-range wingnut preserve, where evolutionary scientists (adequately disguised as “furrin tourists”) can study this maladaptive branch of human neurological development.
    Just my two cents, of course.

  • George

    Look we need to find a place to dump garbage and nuclear waste well Texas seems like a good place to do it. The zombies would not know what is happening.

  • Gwen

    Thank you for your vividly accurate article Jim. I’ve lived in both rural and urban areas of Texas over the last 50 years and you speak the truth.

    As a native Texan, I never thought I would see a black man elected President in my lifetime. I voted for Obama and had debates with reasonable conservative friends in hopes to persuade them to take a long, hard look at the overall picture. It was and is going to take a long, long time to clean up the mess we’re in.

    Obama has stepped right in the middle of a rattlesnake den. Certain cable media sources have become nothing more than tabloid circuses; they don’t care about “we the people”, they care about the DOUGH. Lots of sheep out there for them to herd because so many don’t have the luxury of digging to the bottom of things.

    I want Walter Cronkite back… give us the information and allow us to form our own opinions.

  • texan

    Remember, readers.

    Not all Texans are the same. Believe it or not, there are some bright, educated, and forward-thinking citizens who don’t agree with the ridiculous status quo down here.

    We’re down here fighting the good fight. Don’t give up on us.

  • Brenner

    Hey, J.M. ~

    I got to this page from a link on Facebook, just so you know. What a rewarding link to follow: It’s always encouraging to read someone speaking rational sense and basic decency in these times where ignorance and fear and the garish products thereof are given so much broadcast time.

  • Ron Franscell

    I realize it’s you self-appointed task to be breathless and pseudo-authoritative, but your essay makes it appear that NO TEXAS SCHOOL DISTRICT will allow President Obama’s speech to be broadcast in classrooms. That’s only about, oh, 75% wrong.

    It wouldn’t pay to address every single overwrought(and just plain wrong) element of your opinion, but I will say this: your characterization of Texas and Texans as being racist because SOME districts won’t show the speech (just as some in New York, California and Colorado) is laughably shallow.

    The knee-jerk reactions you sought to elicit (successfully, it appears) were the result of no keener insights than the shallow radicals on the other side, which you likely decry.

    So as someone who is as tired of people like you as the nutbags on Fox and MSNBC, let me offer this bit of advice: Quit making shit up.

  • d rosenberg

    Come on, most Americans are ignorant, not just Texans. Highly amusing that folks think their kids can become socialists after listening to an 18 minute speech when 12 years in school didn’t educate them.

  • PoppaJohn

    When I was an elementary school student in Southeast Texas in the mid-1930s, the assembly bell would ring and we’d gather in the auditorium. The principal would introduce a visiting preacher who was leading a revival at the town’s biggest church. (Hint: it wasn’t Catholic, Lutheran or Methodist, and in those days the Pentecostals were meeting in tents.) I remember one of these blokes was leading us in song when he yelled “Stop! You have to sound louder so Jesus can hear you!”
    How close are we those “good old days?”

  • Melanie M.

    At the moment, I too live in Texas. (Although I am hoping to get out of the state before my children are old enough to go to the schools here) It has been very upsetting to me these last few days as I constantly hear the news reports stating how schools are opting out of showing Obama’s speech to the children of our country. It is a very sad state of affairs that our President cannot give a non-partisan speech extolling the virtues of a good education and staying in school. God forbid we teach those values to our children. Maybe we all need to take a step back and see why Texas has some of the lowest scores in the country, highest teen pregnancy rates and over all lack of tolerance to our fellow human beings on this earth.

  • David Smith

    Thanks for telling it like it is, Jim.

    Perhaps the best choice is for us non-Texans to organize and support the secession. We’d like you to move back to the U.S. first, of course.

    Keep up the effort.

  • bob migs

    Let us remember that Obamas speech ORIGINALLY provided teacher’s notes for before and after the speech as well as a written assignment for the students to complete. Since you are an intelligent man can you define indoctrination for me?

    As far as Texas or any one else saying no to the President’s speech due to their ignorance speaks volumes sir about yours.


  • Native Texan

    What a bunch of Liberal drivel….

  • RP

    You paint with a pretty broad brush. Yep, you hit it right on with a lot of people in this state … why don’t you pick on THEM, instead. Leave the rest of us out of it.

    Thank you very much for your slur.

  • Richard Posey

    Let me add …

    Your tirade is proof that neither the extremist politics and slurs of the Far Left or those of the Far Right really solves anything. But those are the people who yell the loudest. I’m disgusted with both sides.

    Calm down, quit polarizing and get with the real work that needs to be done.

    Richard Posey
    Grapevine, Texas

  • Rosa S

    As a transplanted Texan, I find it deeply saddening and appalling that several school districts have chosen not to show the speech. However, I also find it sad and appalling that you chose to single out Texas when districts all across America decided to not air it or make it optional.

    Not every single Texan is a backwards thinking, Bible thumping, right wing lunatic–Austin boasts of one of the most forward thinking populaces in the nation. But I’d also like to add that there are, peppered throughout the Lone Star State, rational people of a sound mind who also find some of our more right minded brethren’s actions abhorrent.

    Texas really is a great place to live. I grew up in Vidor, Texas–supposedly the armpit of civilization and capital of backwards and racists thinking. However, when I moved to Normal, Illinois I discovered that my educational background was far better than the forward thinkers here, and that I had deeper respect for the people and things around me than the progressive majority in this area and a higher level of understanding for personal civil liberties.

    Texas has some really good school districts and some really shitty ones. But so does every state.

    Texas has some real nut jobs, and I reiterate, so does every state.

    Both sides of the spectrum, the far left and far right, are just pathetic. What is the sense in always being at each others’ throats? What does it accomplish.

    Scootch on over and join me here in the middle–things make much more sense here!

  • Richard Posey


    What’s the difference between your form of bigotry and theirs? It comes in all colors, so to speak, doesn’t it?

    OK, my turn to calm down.

    Thanks for running the comments. You get * some * credit for that.


  • MR

    Let me add …

    Your tirade is proof that neither the extremist politics and slurs of the Far Left or those of the Far Right really solves anything. But those are the people who yell the loudest. I’m disgusted with both sides.

    Calm down, quit polarizing and get with the real work that needs to be done.

    Richard Posey
    Grapevine, Texas

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