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Ol' Buckaroo's Texas Ho-Down
Posted by Bucky in General Discussion
Fri Jun 03rd 2011, 10:38 AM
I dedicate this post to all my fellow DUers who like to bash Texas.

Without much thought put into the matter, tribally loyal, highly partisan conservatives get mad when they hear words like taxes, affirmative action, Mexican immigrant, Planned Parenthood, or stimulus package. By Pavlovian discipline, Rush Limbaugh and his echo chambermaids have taught them to close down their inquiries and spew out prefabricated arguments and logical inferences--untarnished by fact or experience--that denounce all the negative implications they can imagine falling out from these necessary things. Now, these are not stupid people; most of them handle complex problems and navigate daunting logistical tasks in their personal lives and react to the human community around them with compassion and decorum.

But when it comes to the political arena, they surrender their operational secular humanism to a tribalist identity--voting and donating and rallying to whatever proclaims itself Republican or Tea Party for public consumption. They have gay friends, but still vote for politicians who bray about "protecting marriage." They recoil from the harsh presense of racial prejudice when they see it in their neighborhoods, but still manage to pass those quieter prejudgments down to their children. They lose jobs to overseas companies, but still vote in favor of the Congresspeople who give massive tax cuts to fuel the outward flight of American investment capital. They ignore the fine details of America's complex politcal realities in favor of the dull comfort of familiar words because they feed their pre-set notions. Paying attention to social nuance means nothing when compared to the endorphinal kick they get from hearing and repeating the rhetoric that defines them as safely within their tribe.

Sociologists call this unthinking behavior "role immersion." After all, don't we all want to feel like we belong?

I compare this to the portion of DUers who like to mob onto the point that Texas is evil and full of nothing but haters. As a tack-on, they'll occasionally toss in the cliche "but we can keep Austin". These people are speaking out of a pure bone ignorance, smug in their stereotypes, and knowing nothing about the liberal enclaves in Kerrville, Beaumont, Odessa, the Red River Valley. They wilfully wipe Jim Hightower, the Dixie Chicks, Lloyd Doggett, and Molly Ivins from their pinched angry brains. They're too busy mimicking the scorn they think is required to assert their online tribal identity as liberals to calculate what a modern urban state like Texas adds to America's political equation, what it means to have NASA, and Rice University, and the Houston Medical Center, and the Port of Houston and the museums and small presses and charitable organizations that come out of Dallas and San Antonio and Fort Worth but still don't fit into their ignorance-based broad stroke stereotypes. They just see the word Texas and choose only to see the red.

But I don't get mad at them for this, any more than I get mad at my neighbor's dog for barking angrily at me every time my car pulls up the driveway. Dogs yip; that's what they do and there's no point in getting upset when they follow nature. I'm sure in real life even the most caustic Texas-bashing DUers have real life friends from Texas. Hell, they probably even have the good manners to not be such bigoted pricks when talking face-to-face with their off-line Texas friends... cause that's human nature, too.

If the defining characteristic of liberalism is an openmindedness to new ideas and different people that step out of tradition and defy social order wherever it holds back human potential, then none of us is perfectly liberal. We all have areas in which we prefer to not think through the details and just go along with how things have always been. If the unexamined life is not worth living, keep in mind the counterbalancing point: that a constantly re-examined life is not lived at all. If you wish to post "Let's get rid of Texas" threads on DU, I hear you. I live in Texas and I see up close the things your scorn from afar. I take a small comfort from the fact that your words don't really matter and that you probably don't really mean what you've said anyway.

But if you take a second to really think through what the implications are of the words you write and see some value in transcending the small minded prejudices that the flippantly rude ones among us use to define our tribe, I will preemptively offer you my gratitude and appreciation. It ain't easy being Texan, some days. But it feeds my prejudices when I see tolerance and inclusive thoughts coming from the left.
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