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Vivian Norris Headshot

An Ode to a Disappearing Texas

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This post is a response to the absolutely horrifying historical revision, and narrow and dangerously restrictive approach of the conservative Education Board in my home state of Texas. Take this as a warning, and it needs to be discussed at the national level and people back home in Texas need to make sure they are ready to stand up and protest this move. I see that some are already thinking of taking their children out of schools to home school them. I would do the same. Individual teachers can try to make up for this bizarre ruling, but unfortunately there will be some who happily go along, and mess with our children's heads in the process.

Childhood in Texas meant clean rivers to swim in, friendly people, a conservative underpinning, but a kind of joy of living and truly fun-loving people who were pretty tolerant. Back then it was a place where you can give a better party, enjoy nature, and work hard and enjoy life. Growing up as a seventh generation Texan translates as being proud, knowing who one is and where one comes from, and, more often than not these days, trying to explain the insanity that has been taking place in my home state since the election in the 1990s of George W. Bush (a Native of Connecticut) as Governor of that State. The man took Tort Reform nation wide. This means the corporations always win over human beings. He made born again a "norm" and the mixing of church and state and revisionist history an everyday event.

This is not what Texas stands for, nor what it used to be! Texas is/was a place where people felt a little more pioneering, a little more "free" and "independent", not beholden to right-wing conservative ideologies. They might want to own a hunting rifle and go to church, but they also enjoy a good honky tonk, a cold beer and do not trespass on the rights of others because they held so dearly their own freedoms. Texans were always a mix of wild and fun and a little pious. It was once joyful and economically a pretty good place to be, the roads and schools were often unequally good and bad depending on where you lived but it's been going downhill for a long time. Yet there is hope in Texas and for Texans...many of them voted for Obama, yet somehow on the school board you've got a bunch of folks who are not about progress but digging their heads into the ground. The state is more cosmopolitan than ever before.

I have the feeling that just as the hyper conservative Southern Baptist Convention took over what used to be a pretty inclusive church, a stronghold of the African-American South, getting rid of women in the pulpit and proclaiming that wives should obey their husbands, that Texas has been completely infiltrated by a scary church-lady atmosphere.

The most disturbing part of this story is that the children of these people are going to be seriously messed up and that will affect ALL of our children. Just remember the children of the minister are always the wildest ones, acting out (as did George W. as a young man from a "good family" in Texas). Remember Enron's Kenny Boy Lay and his closeness to the reactionary Second Baptist Church in Houston, to Bush Jr. and once-seen as a "leader" of the business community. A man like that was considered to be "successful" and "respected" and a strong member of the Christian congregation which has a church which resembles a baseball stadium and which has a stronghold over a lot of people . Enron was a sham. Lay was a sham. We have to stop this deadly hypocrisy. I left Texas sadly because it was changing and becoming what it has now become. But there are some great people there and they WILL make their voices heard...because Texans are NOT wimps! (Vote for Kinky Friedman fast!!!! Kinky please run again soon!) Even if you are more conservative than not, Texas was NEVER about imposing one's beliefs on others, but all living together and respecting true freedom.

It seems that the Conservatives are hunkering down because they are scared. The world has changed and it is unfamiliar to them and the good ole boys don't control it anymore. We have elected a progressive intelligent well educated President and there are a few people in Texas who don't get it. They are the dinosaurs.

But dinosaurs can also be dangerous. Don't let this insanity spread. Write to your representatives, school boards, schools, teachers, friends. Education will save the United States. It will help us through the financial crisis, but not if this kind of fear spreads and questioning and free thinking is stifled.