Liberals Should Drop the Dumb ‘ashamed to Be Texan' Meme

There are times when I wish the world had never heard of my hometown, never swooned over it, never adopted it as their very own. This would have averted an awful lot of silliness. I come from Austin. I was born there to UT students, grew up on cheap Tex-Mex food and Southwest Conference football. As a young adult, I occupied cheap rent houses in neighborhoods where you now have to be a trillionaire to live. I rode the sleepy streets on a Moped. As a native, I feel qualified to state without reservation that, yes, Austin is in Texas. The venerable Washington Post recently ran a gushing travel story about Austin. The author, who I'm sure is a perfectly nice person, wheezed on and on about the very un-Texan trendiness of the city - Food trucks! Airstream trailers! Street musicians! - an oasis in a vast desert of gun-totin' Bible-beatin' Infowars-brainwashed rednecks. The money quote was from the tour guide (and musician, natch): "I could never live in Texas. This is Austin." I would hate to see Dallas - which is now my home (yes, though of the suburbs, I make this claim) - adopt the dopey hipster conceit that it's not in Texas, either.This isn't a political viewpoint; or rather, it's a viewpoint taken in spite of the politics that split us into warring red-and-blue tribes. There's a kind of maddening oversimplification - city good, suburb bad; "spiritualism" good, religion bad; overpriced pop-up celebrity chef farm-to-table sustainable bistro good, Applebee's an agent of Satan - that often makes me want to turn a garden hose on my otherwise sensible liberal brethren. We should be able to arrive at our own opinions and choose our own preferences without reading them off a trend menu. Cities have identities, of course. After years of struggling with its own frantic desire for world-classness, Dallas seems more comfortable these days in its own skin. It's perhaps understandably pleased with its emerging pockets of hipsterness (my husband, a Justin F. Kimball boy to the bone, is sometimes amused by the latter-day "discovery" of Oak Cliff). But, please, let's not fall for this we're-not-Texas foolishness. One, because it's plain stupid. Austin is a lot more Texas than out-of-staters and hybrid tour guide/musicians seem to think. I am personally related to Austinites who vote blue, own guns, and drive pick-up trucks; to a (gasp) registered lobbyist who drives around town with a kayak in case he has a meeting break for a fast paddle; to tree-hugging young environmentalists who can gut fish quicker than a Cajun swamp angler. Austin's spectacular natural environment - heavily developed and overexposed though it is - does not stop at the city limits. Texas doesn't stop there, either.More important, though, is that this not-Texas business is a shameful form of surrender, of giving up. It's a form of self-segregation, which does no credit to anyone who claims to prize diversity. Our current political leadership makes a lot of people (the ones, at least, who incline toward a particular political camp) cringe, to say they're "ashamed to be from Texas." Well, I'm as embarrassed as anybody by some of the hyperventilating nonsense our state leadership keeps dishing up - bathroom hysteria, attacks on women's health, impractical worship of firearms. Some people say it makes them reluctant to claim their own citizenship.Why? It's their state too; by saying they're "ashamed," they're abdicating their own obligation to seek improvement. Besides, why would anybody be "ashamed" to live in the state that produced Stevie Ray Vaughn, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ann Richards? I don't know about you, but I am immensely proud to be from the Birthplace of Frito Pie, which I think ought to be on our license plates.Texas may be a conservative state, but it's hasn't always been that way. When my ancestors first got here - they were among the horde of invading Anglo immigrants from a strange culture speaking an alien language - it was a fulminating hotbed of revolution and insurrection. I get a lot of mail from irate readers telling me off for opinions they don't like, informing me that I'm not a "real" Texan, that I should "go back" to California/New York/Massachusetts. This gets the hackles up. I tell them I'm a sixth-generation native; I tell them about my ancestral Alamo martyr. That's not really the point, though. If you live here, you're a Texan, whether you got here before the Spaniards or just last week. It's a huge and infinitely interesting place with as much history and character as any place on earth.No matter how you vote, that's not something to be ashamed of.  Continue reading...

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