If Texas Were An Independent Nation

Rick Perry is an idiot. If Texas were a separate nation it would be a third world country. Really, google up some of our statewide educational, economic and cultural indicators and you’ll see what I mean.

Sometimes I shake my head in wonder, more like bemused regret, that I wasted so much time in San Antonio. If I had known then what I know now and all that, half a life time in a place that never did a damn thing good for me, a place I now associate with failure, foolishness and stupidity (on my part, I should add).

When people ask me where I am from I say Austin, now. Why? Well, Austin is pretty much the only place in Texas worth living. Austin actually has well educated people, who can hold a conversation on something other than what was on TV last night, or what bar they drank at, or . . . well, you get the idea.

If I return to the States, I’ve pretty much decided it won’t be in Texas. It’ll be somewhere south of Silicon Valley in California, on the water with the mountains at my back, or Manhattan. Sure, I’ll go back to Austin for a while to settle some personal affairs, but that’ll be it.

Texas is just too redneck. I always thought I could deal with it. And I do love the Hill Country. That will always be home in my heart, the gently sloping, dry caliche hills, deer ambling under mesquite and cedars trees, and the cool malachite waters of the Upper Nueces near Barksdale and Camp Wood. A retirement ranch there might tempt me back home.

But people change. And so do places. Sometimes not for the best. I’m sure the Texas ex-pats reading this can relate. It’s a love-hate thing. And the Big Bend area? That’s special too for many disparate reasons.

However, what happened in the aftermath of the whole Kenneth Foster thing was what really pushed me over the edge. Broke my heart, although I shouldn’t have been surprised. Maybe someday I’ll tell that story.

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Sean Paul Kelley

Traveler of the (real) Silk Road, scholar and historian, photographer and writer - founder of The Agonist.

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  • Really enjoy your travel journal. Oh that decision on where to settle next. California and Texas do have one thing in common; both states are damn near impossible to govern, and have screwball politics.

    “There are two types of folk music:
    quiet folk music and loud folk music.
    I play both.”

    Dave Alvin

  • I assume you’re speaking here of its anglo whites. But while Texas politics is dominated by anglo white males, Texas is more than that. Texas is the only place where Mexican immigrants actually spoke to me about their OPINIONS. I was just a casual visitor there, not very outgoing and not knowing a word of Spanish.

    Elsewhere in the USA there are Mexicans… they have strongholds in certain towns, you see them on the bus, etc, but I don’t speak with them, don’t know any of them as individuals, and don’t know anything about them. They mostly stay behind an invisible cultural barrier. It’s not that I couldn’t cross this barrier if I made the effort. But in Texas that barrier seemed nonexistant, there’s an openness.

    We talked about my camera, about which parts of Texas they liked (the lower Rio Grande Valley), even about the USA presidential election.

  • of Texas, and more so, San Antonio. They aren’t Mexicans in Texas. They’re just there, a part of life and no one makes (much) of an issue about it. Even many ‘Rednecks’ don’t have much bad to say about the Mexicans. Why? Well, ask Don. They respect them, they do shit white people would never do.

    “Is not our first thought to go on the road? The road is our source, our vault of treasures, our wealth. Only on the road does the ‘traveller’ feel like himself, at home.”
    Ryszard Kapuscinski

  • Wikipedia:

    One of the motivations for annexation was that the Texas government had incurred huge debts which the United States agreed to assume upon annexation. In 1852, in return for this assumption of debt, a large portion of Texas-claimed territory, now parts of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Wyoming, was ceded to the Federal government.

    They also own the oil rights, rather than the federal government and the money from it supposedly goes to education.

    The resolution did not include any special exceptions to the provisions of the US Constitution regarding statehood. The right to create these possible new states was not “reserved” for Texas, as is sometimes stated.[8] Second, Texas did not have to surrender its public lands to the federal government. While Texas did cede all territory outside of its current area to the federal government in 1850, it did not cede any public lands within its current boundaries. This means that the only lands owned by the federal government within Texas have subsequently been purchased by the federal government. This also means that the state government has control over oil reserves which were later used to fund the state’s public university system through the Permanent University Fund.[9] In addition, the state’s control over offshore oil reserves in Texas runs out to 3 leagues (10.357 miles, 16.668 km) rather than three miles (4.828 km) as with other states.[10]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Texas

  • will be a third world country the day the rest of the world cancels our credit cards. Or better stated, a group of third world nations once we start casting blame at each other for the mess we all created.

    Rick Perry is an opportunist, riding the wave of resentment being focused on the federal government now that a Democrat is in office
    Nevermind that Obama’s policies are almost indistinguishable from the last fraud in chief, who was a Texas carpetbagger.

    I didn’t go, but I was told most of the town of Gonzales showed up for the tea party yesterday.

    Wait until people get their state and local property tax statements that don’t reflect devaluation of property in the real world.

    Who we going to secede from then?

    I did inhale.

  • ..should you get back to the US, I’d suggest checking out the little town of Alviso, wedged between the Bay, Milpitas, and San Jose.

    After that, Milpitas or Fremont are decent places to live, that are accessible for getting around to any of the places you’d want to go…

    Never been to Manhattan–yet. Pretty expensive to live there for me, and for the time being…but I’ve always liked cities over ‘burbs…

    -5.75,-4.05
    “God gives men a brain and a penis, and only enough blood to run one at a time.” — Robin Williams

  • trying new england. youll find plenty of thoughtful articulate liberals. great great used bookstores. the only part of america that is vaguely european, and in a very good way. decent wages. very few rethugs…
    i used to live in boston. it was great…. i love new england and pretty much hate the rest of the US…

  • New England is fine. But many thoughtful and articulate liberals are just phonies, you realize after living there for several years. And you can find plenty of rednecks in New England as well. With regard to the decent wages, well, what is the metric here? Sure, you make more than in Texas, on average, but the cost of living is much higher. So…

  • You’ll have to get a well-paying full-time job and go back to the rats race. No other way, I’m afraid, unless you are independently wealthy.

  • I must respectfully take issue with most of what you write here SP. Except that Rick Perry is an idiot, and an opportunist.

    “Austin actually has well educated people, who can hold a conversation on something other than what was on TV last night, or what bar they drank at, or . . . well, you get the idea.”

    The idea that Austin is some sort of a “liberal oasis” is absurd and reveals a highly biased, White, middle class privilege. Forgive me because I’ve often said as much in the past. UT, high-tech, and “new urbanism” may dress up the town in liberal drag but its also a sprawling suburban nightmare. Alas, with neoliberalism’s triumph in the 90’s most of the good ole redneck hippies are gone. What’s more, Austin has been and continues to be highly segregated both racially and economically. The double deck I35 provides a massive physical barrier, separating East Austin’s poor, mostly Latino, population from “liberal” West Austin. Out of site out of mind. But isn’t that the pattern in most US cities. It is particularly pronounced in Austin however.

    “They aren’t Mexicans in Texas. They’re just there, a part of life and no one makes (much) of an issue about it. Even many ‘Rednecks’ don’t have much bad to say about the Mexicans. Why? Well, ask Don. They respect them, they do shit white people would never do.”

    This is just downright difficult to digest. I am certain that this is mostly a case of a very poorly worded idea on your part. But who are the “they” exactly? Who makes an issue about “it.” You’ve very unfortunately reduced both “Whites” and “Mexicans” into one dimensional caricatures while simultaneously revealing the narrow dominant White privileged lens for viewing the Texas cultural landscape. Furthermore, even the notion that, “they aren’t Mexican in Texas” ignores a very long history of deeply institutionalized racism across the State which persists today.

    I like Austin. I love San Antonio, (excluding the suburbs). It’s surely not a “wealthy” city but the ethno-cultural tapestry is very rich indeed. I think you’ve way oversimplified the whole damn State and state of things. And it is a damned State politically. But just wait, I’m sure the rest of the US will catch up to our standards.

  • describe Austin? As I re-read the post and my comment and the word just isn’t there. So, from the comfort of your own ‘oh-so-white-middle-class’ Danish island I am certain it is easy for you to pontificate on this.

    There is absolutely no questioning your description of Austin. It is sadly all too accurate. When I was in elementary school I remember being bussed to the East Side. I liked being bussed. It opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed. Who knew fifth graders had to stay home from school to take care of their kid brother because Mom had to work?

    Of course, in San Antonio, I didn’t experience this, mostly because I was in a somewhat elite private school. But I don’t and didn’t dispute your description of Austin at all.

    I think you have spent far, far too much time in the rarified world of European textual exegesis, far too much time actually parsing words and their hidden meanings. You need to get out into the real world, Kaiserhund, and climb down from the ivory tower and/or get out of your garden! You simply read way, way too much into what I wrote. You of all people know my feelings towards the Mexican-Americans in Texas. Hell, I almost married one, remember?

    As for the “deeply institutionalized racism across the State which persists today.” Mind you, we are talking Mexican-Americans, not about African-Americans, and in that situation as long standing and nasty institutionalized racism does exists. But if I recall previous conversations between you and that kind of institutionalized racism was never very high on your list of things (this is in no way an implication or imputation of racism on your part, nothing could be further from the truth) that needed to be righted in America. Remember our conversations about equality of opportunity and how I said it would never be fixed until a black girl could be president? Well, we’re close now, but work still needs to be done.

    But I seriously, seriously dispute that there is any deeply institutionalized racism in South Texas, that belt of brush and mesquite stretching from San Antonio to Laredo, most especially in San Antonio. Even as you write, “but the ethno-cultural tapestry is very rich indeed.” You simply can’t have it both ways here brother.

    And I fail to see how you can take issue with this statement:

    “They aren’t Mexicans in Texas. They’re just there, a part of life and no one makes (much) of an issue about it. Even many ‘Rednecks’ don’t have much bad to say about the Mexicans. Why? Well, ask Don. They respect them, they do shit white people would never do.”

    It’s about the most post-racist, post-multicultural thing a person could say. In effect, there aren’t any groups there are just people, “there,” in the State, going about their lives. The only people who make an issue about Mexican-Americans or illegal immigrants in Texas are the carpet-baggers and recent intra-American immigrants, people from other states, especially the North and California.

    When it comes to whites and Mexican-Americans–never mind the huge communities of Lebanese Maronites, South Koreans and Vietnamese–San Antonio to its everlasting benefit and credit is a truly post-multicultural and post-racist city, except for the nasty ghettos we have on the East side. If San Antonio could fix that It would be a model city in many, many ways. And it’s that culturally tolerant milieu from which I spring.

    “Is not our first thought to go on the road? The road is our source, our vault of treasures, our wealth. Only on the road does the ‘traveller’ feel like himself, at home.”
    Ryszard Kapuscinski

  • I think you have spent far, far too much time in the rarified world of European textual exegesis, far too much time actually parsing words and their hidden meanings.

    I am smiling indeed as your sms suggested I would. That’s not an inaccurate description at all of my own life these past three years. Though lately I spend most of my time building our small cottage (we can’t afford to buy a house you know), tending our vegetable garden and potatoes, and trying to figure out how to raise a two year old and a one month old.

    But even as an unemployed graduate student whose wife is a student on maternity leave, we enjoy the “comfort of your own ‘oh-so-white-middle-class’ Danish island.”

    No, comfort for my two brothers in Austin, working 60 hour weeks and just barely getting by, with no health care to boot.

    I didn’t set out to paint you personally as some sort of closed minded racist, nor as ignorant to Texas history. Clearly you are neither. But your comments, which I too have been guilty of, though not at all overt reveal an underlying insensitivity which is most often not deliberate.

    Before going further, let me just reiterate that my intentions here were not to smack you down but rather your framework. And I do still reject some of your assumptions. For example:

    As for the “deeply institutionalized racism across the State which persists today.” Mind you, we are talking Mexican-Americans, not African-Americans, and in that situation as long standing and nasty institutionalized racism does exists. But I seriously, seriously dispute that there is any deeply institutionalized racism in South Texas, that belt of brush and mesquite stretching from San Antonio to Laredo, most especially in San Antonio. Even as you write, “but the ethno-cultural tapestry is very rich indeed.” You simply can’t have it both ways here brother.

    First, yes, many African-Americans in Texas continue to suffer under a very “long standing and nasty institutionalized racism.” This becomes even more problematic in places like South Texas where centuries of complex Mexican racialized socio-political identities and discrimination, a gift from the Spanish, are combined with the Southern inheritance of slavery and Jim Crow.

    Why do you reject then that institutionalized racism does not exist in South Texas, or more specifically towards Mexicans? Based on what? I beg differ. Though Latinos have been successful taking the reigns of power at various levels of local government. But all politics in South Texas is racialized. In many cases, Mexicans are institutionalizing racism as well.

    It’s not either that I want to have it both ways as you wrote. I believe it is both ways. A rich and multi-ethnic culture can and often does exist within larger institutional and socio-economic frameworks that contradict such a culture. And you are correct about San Antonio possibly serving as a model city. There is a very markedly greater sense of a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural identity and pride about that identity and cultural tolerance for a great many San Antonians. Myself included. San Antonio is very unique for a large Texas city, or for a city anywhere for that matter. But Post-Racial? Not by a long shot.

  • How deliciously that word must trip around the tongue among those who have a romantic fondness for the Southern “noble cause” during the Civil War.

    These are, however, the only people for whom secession has any real meaning. It certainly doesn’t have any practical meaning. It’s not even as if Texas was like Quebec, where leaving the union would probably cause the whole thing to dissolve. People outside of Texas are not quaking in fear that Texas might secede – someone like Tom Tancredo might actually welcome it, since it would get rid of millions of illegal immigrants.

    Gov. Perry is doing nothing more than pandering to racists by using racist code words, in the grand tradition of the Grand Old Party. While Lee Atwater and Richard Nixon aren’t around to cheer him on, if we discover that someone like Pat Buchanan thinks Perry and his ilk have a “legitimate grievance” that’s all we need to know.

  • Why to give it for free?

    Well, you could sell Texas to China instead of Alaska, but I think selling Utah would be best because they do not have much natural resources except trouble caused by Republican Mormons.

    And it is not so far from Chinese mainland now when they have Cuba.


    –Sell Alaska to China!

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