Every maybe eight months or so it has to be done. Either a series of incidents in rapid succession makes it clear, or those not attuned to notice its generally offensive stupidity need to be reminded, that Texas is America's prolapsed asshole. Sure, Florida is home to some of the most insane people and news stories on this earth, but Texas is something else altogether because it gleefully traffics in institutionalized idiocy. And, what's more, given Texas's misplaced sense of state pride, it actually boasts about this fact rather than hanging its head in collective shame. Texas thinks that being almost violently ignorant and backward is cause for no small amount of self-satisfaction.
You probably already know that we're coming off a season in which the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, activated the state guard in an effort to keep tabs on special forces exercises that various conspiratorial Texan yokels believed were just cover for a military takeover of the state. Obviously, the dreaded Jade Helm 15 exercises came and went and Texas remains completely free to be behave like the clown sanctuary it always has -- and that's why we can continue to bring you item like the ones that have emerged out of the Lone Brain Cell state in the past few days.
First up we have the story of a group of open carry gun nuts who gathered outside of a mosque in the town of Irving as a "show of force" against the impending Islamic danger. At least one person held a sign that read "Stop the Islamization of America" and almost all of them were carrying assault rifles slung over their shoulders, apparently oblivious to who looks like the real threat when you're the guy who's armed to the teeth standing outside a place of worship. The "protesters" claim they'd heard rumors that a Sharia court was taking place inside the mosque and that Syrian refugees were going to be arriving soon. (Never mind the fact that the strict refugee vetting process can take up to two years and that late last week a GOP lawmaker in Texas said Syrians shouldn't come to Texas anyway since -- and I'm not making this up -- it'll be too easy for them to get guns.)
Since threatening Muslims with guns apparently wasn't enough, by the way, on Wednesday afternoon it was reported that the guy leading this protest also published the addresses of various local Muslims on Facebook. Because that's not a disaster waiting to happen.
If you recognize Irving, Texas -- specifically its relation to its Muslim population -- that's probably because two months ago it was the city that arrested a high school kid who brought a homemade clock to school. While that teen has left the country for Qatar and is now suing the city for $15-million -- an absurd demand from somebody who basically had a really shitty day -- he didn't deserve to have his intelligence regarded with suspicion by bigots. But apparently that kind of thing is par for the course in Irving. He's lucky he didn't face down a gauntlet of fat guys with machine guns and delusions they really are their Call of Duty avatars.
Meanwhile, in the Texas state house there's a depressing development in the ongoing battle over Texas's public school textbooks. Last week, the state's top education officials rejected a plan to allow nonpartisan experts at the university level to fact-check textbooks that go into the hands of students statewide. The controversy follows the complaint of a Houston mother who couldn't quite swallow the fact that her kid's history textbook referred to black slaves as "workers" as well as arguments that lines like "The treatment of enslaved Africans varied; Some slaves reported that their masters treated them kindly," didn't exactly tell the whole story of slavery in the United States.
Basically, if you're a student in Texas, your textbooks have been twisted to present a more conservative view of the world, including references to Moses as a quasi-forebear of our founding fathers and Ronald Reagan as basically the greatest president who ever lived. The fact-checkers were supposed to help alleviate this kind of partisan spin, but alas the whole thing bit the dust, with the state lawmaker who proposed the idea acknowledging that "people are concerned about pointy-headed liberals in the ivory tower making our process different or worse."
Finally, there's the little matter of Texas seceding from the union. Yes -- we're doing this again. A member of the executive committee for the Republican Party of Texas will supposedly be introducing a secession proposal at the group's next meeting."There's been a big groundswell of Texans that are getting into the Texas independence issue," says Tanya Robertson, committee member for Texas Senate District 11. "I believe conservatives in Texas should have a choice to voice their opinion." That "groundswell" has been going on for, I don't know, something like decades now, with one strident redneck or another suggesting Texas leave the union every couple of years.
In fact, back in 2012, right after President Obama handily won a second term, a few Republicans in Texas -- decrying the "baby-murdering, tax-raising socialists" -- wanted to break off and set up a "free-trade agreement" with the suddenly Texas-less United States. As I said at the time -- right -- we could send them food, water, medical supplies for the kids dying in droves and every form of technology still being produced within the U.S. borders and by our partners around the globe. They could make sure we never run out of big hats, roadside kitsch and rusted F-150 truck parts. I say that as somebody who thought it was a fantastic idea for Texas to finally get off the pot and go its merry way.
But that's never going to happen -- no matter how often Texas bombastically threatens it. Which once again brings us back to the fact that the only alternative for the rest of us is to scorch the entire state. Get the few remaining decent people out of there -- people like that little kid who gave 20 bucks to help out a vandalized Muslim community center in Pflugerville recently -- and nuke the entire place from orbit.
There was a time when Texas's independent spirit really did provide this country with an abundance of worthwhile cultural originals, but that was before it became the state of Ted Cruz, Louie Gohmert and Alex Jones. The state of George W. Bush and Rick Perry. The state of open carry and redneck reactionaries. The state of Jesus and Jade Helm. The state of fucking disgrace.
Update 12/8/15: The best thing about Texas is that the stupidity there never runs dry. Adding to everything listed here is the new story of an East Texas police chief who's asking residents under his jurisdiction to buy guns in order to defend against Muslim terrorists and the "potentate" Barack Obama. "I don’t want you running out of bullets and I don’t want you running out of guns before you’re able to pull our bacon out of the fire,” says folsky colloquialist stereotype Randy Kennedy. Texas -- you never let us down.