Ralph Blumenthal - New York Times
In a sign of rising passions over immigration issues, Texas lawmakers prepared for the 2007 session this week by filing a flurry of bills that would deny public assistance and other benefits to the children of illegal immigrants, tax money transfers to Mexico and the rest of Latin America and sue the federal government for the costs of state border control.
At the same time, a Dallas suburb, Farmers Branch, became the first Texas municipality to enact measures fining landlords who rent to illegal immigrants...'
This is finally an acknowledgement that things are not all rosy in Texas between the state's citizens, and the illegals whose numbers have grown staggeringly in recent years.
And see these letters in response to the Farmers Branch situation: the backlash is evident.
I've crossed swords with some people on the Internet, who claim that Texas is a model of Hispanic/Anglo harmony and coexistence. A couple of these people are Texans, but they have an entirely different experience and perception from my own. When you disagree with someone whose arguments are all anecdotal, based on their individual experience, it's hard to counter that. 'My anecdotes beat your anecdotes' is the only available answer.
One such person I've encountered on the Internet is from a small town in West Texas, and his claim is that 'Hispanics and Anglos are good neighbors and get along fine in my town; always have'. Now maybe in this person's town, the Hispanics are American-born, and more Americanized in culture, not at all like the illegals who are arriving now. I grew up alongside such Mexican-Americans. Although in my childhood there were many more recent arrivals, who spoke poor English, they were relatively few in number, compared to today. People are amazed when I tell them that in my 6th-grade class of about 30, there were maybe 5 Hispanic kids. Today, in that same school, I would be surprised if any class has more than 5 'Anglo' kids. Such is the change that has take place in many areas of Texas. And those Hispanic kids are different from those we knew when I was a child; they come from a very foreign culture, many of them being mostly of Indian descent, rather than being more of a Spanish/Indian mix as Hispanic-Americans were more likely to be a generation or more ago. Much of Mexican culture is decidedly non-Western, contrary to popular stereotypes of Mexico as being mainly Spanish-derived.
When I was growing up, I simply thought of Mexican-Americans as part of the Texan environment; I was not taught to resent them or dislike them. However I will say that the prevailing attitude was that they were different from us, and they seemed to share that opinion. They seemed to prefer to stay among themselves, and spoke in Spanish among themselves, though their English was relatively good. I don't recall any clashes or open hostility; there was civility, but some distance between Mexicans and 'Anglo' Texans.
There was a historical memory on both sides, it seemed; each side was aware that we had warred with each other; there was the Texas Revolution, with all the strong emotion tied to that. My family, having pioneer forebears, had family members who died at the Alamo (my 3rd great-granduncle) as well as at Goliad, both tragic events in Texas history. And it was hard not to be aware that the Mexicans were the authors of those tragedies.
So we had no illusions of a rainbow 'can't-we-all-get-along', brotherhood, multicultural lovefest, such as we find among many people today. Each side had their own ways and their own group memories and their loyalties. There was a kind of truce, but no illusions that we were 'all the same', or that Mexicans had an equal claim to Texas.
Today you find supposedly patriotic Texans claiming that the Mexicans 'fought equally against Santa Anna with us at the Alamo.' That claim is easily disproved: of the Defenders of the Alamo, there are only 9 (by my count) Hispanic names. This site lists ten 'Tejanos' or Mexican Texans. That is compared with about 150 'Texians', as the early Texans were called. Definitely a minority, in the single digits, percentage-wise.
So it's just false to claim that 'they fought equally with us for Texan independence' as some of the revisionists say. I think this kind of nonsense is just another feel-good attempt to share the credit with others so that they feel 'included.' It's a misguided attempt to be generous, and share the credit or the glory. But it's false. And it papers over the very real differences between Hispanic Texans and 'Anglo' Texans.
It's no good to try to pretend that history did not happen as it did, or more importantly, to deny the real cultural (and yes, racial) differences between Mexicans and majority European-Americans. This is just pathetic, wimpy political correctness, and it's not true to our history.
I've been wondering in recent years whether the old Texian spirit would assert itself and oppose this invasion and usurpation of what our forefathers fought to valiantly to win. I wondered if the 'kumbaya' spirit really was the prevailing spirit in Texas these days, but that does not square with the image of conservative Texas. 'Don't mess with Texas,' as the saying goes. I hope that our generation does not meekly allow Texas to revert to Mexico. I can't help thinking that our 'daddies' who fought for Texan independence would rise up out of their graves and whup us for it, should we give up Texas without a fight.
If we do that, then we deserve whatever fate we would receive.