MAXWELL:  Ain’t no room for liberals in Texas
10/24/2002 – Printed in the EDITORIAL section of the St Petersburg Times Newspaper
SAN ANGELO, Texas
We’re confident that there are well over fifty bona fide liberals in Texas.
_ From a recent
Texas Observer editorial
In most parts of the nation, the most offensive words are a select group of infamous four-letter utterances. Here in Texas, the most reviled word is a seven-letter one: LIBERAL. Or it is six letters if you pronounce it like Texans: “Librul.”
During my more than two months in the Lone Star State, I have never heard liberal used positively, not one time. I have written about experiencing culture shock in two other columns, but no shock compares with this feeling of being a black liberal in a place where the overwhelming majority of white residents speak fluent George Dubyadegook.
Sure, I have praised Texans, especially West Texans, for their friendliness. And they are friendly, after a fashion. But they also have conservatism’s instinctive meanness. I am not a newcomer to the right wing. I live in Pinellas County, where conservative Republicans run the show. Heck, I even work for the St. Petersburg Times, a left-leaning newspaper. Fortunately, though, I have liberals to spend time with.
In Texas, except for Austin, liberals like me are the enemy. Of course, I can go about my business unmolested so long as I keep my pinko views to myself.
I have seen political road signs suggesting this or that Democratic candidate is an un-American liberal, that the other guy or gal, the conservative Republican, is the real deal. Indeed, Republicans have run this state for a long time and will to do so for decades to come. A handful of libruls struggle to get elected, but their effort is like trying to climb a rugged, towering butte in Big Bend National Park.
Listen as liberal-bashers speak for themselves. Here is a man who responded to a series of articles in the Austin American-Statesman. The newspaper lauded some liberal causes:
“Texas is and has always been “traditional,’ and there are many of us who want to keep it that way. So far, we’ve been successful. Look around on the political map, and count the elected liberals in Texas. . . . I can see liberals salivating over Texas, and any development that undermines the individualist, conservative heritage of Texas makes them giddy. They tend to get overactive imaginations that Texas cities are becoming “homes of artists, musicians and gay couples.’
“If ethnic cleansing is a war crime, what’s so great about ethnic DILUTION, which is what is happening to us native Texans. If liberals hate what America did to the native Americans by turning them into minorities in their own land, why is it acceptable here? As far as I’m concerned, everyone from California, St. Louis or the East Coast should pack up their bags and get on the next VW bus out of here. Before we throw them out.”
These warm words came from a letter-writer calling himself “An indignant Texan who still believes in Jesus Christ and Sam Houston.”
Just as nasty, but with a sense of humor, are the anti-liberal rants of Jim O’Leary, a columnist for the Waverly Star. He wrote about his Texas travels and the quaint names of some towns:
“There is no town named Liberal, Texas. Liberals in Texas are an endangered species now more than ever before, and there is no movement afoot to include them under the Endangered Species Act. No Texan in his right mind would name a town Liberal in this Bush era, even though there is a perfectly fine town called Liberal, Kansas, with a population of almost 20,000. The closest thing to Liberal we have is a village called New Deal, Texas, just north of Lubbock in the Panhandle. It is very close to Happy, Texas, which recently got hit by a most unhappy tornado.”
Actually, geezers such as O’Leary concern me less than my students at Angelo State University. Having taught and attended school mostly in Chicago, Madison, Wis., Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville and other liberal centers, I have never encountered so many right-wing young people. I would guess that 98 percent of my students, some barely 20 years old, are fully developed, card-carrying conservative Republicans _ even before living on their own.
One young lady told me, unequivocally, that her ideas are those of her father. More like those of your grandfather, I wanted to say, but I did not. Clearly, such a climate nips many would-be important discussions in the bud and turns the academy into an un-marketplace of ideas.
If I have learned anything, it is this useful lesson: If you are a librul in Texas and want to live in peace, don’t mess with Texas conservatives, Pardner.