Brownsville, and Texas

POSTNOTE 4:30 a.m. CDT May 9, 2023: America, Texas, everywhere, is full of decent respectful people.  I will witness this today, as I do every day.  So will you.  As I suggested below, I witnessed Texas in better days.  But even today, Texas and everywhere will seem to be a good place full of good people.  But then will come another piece of “breaking news”, the latest carnage or other outrage of a part of society gone insane.

There is a bottom line: In a free society, which we proclaim we are, we, the people, elect those who represent us for good or evil outcomes.  There are no excuses.  Change is up to us, individually, every time we cast a ballot, or don’t vote at all, for whatever reason.

The solution is us, period.

If you’re still open to reading, here and here, two excellent recent columns on U.S. Gun policy from Heather Cox Richardson.  Also, just released is a new book, American Carnage, Shattering the Myths that Fuel Gun Violence (School Safety, Violence in Society)  by Fred Guttenberg , about the epidemic of gun violence in the U. S.  Guttenberg is the parent of a victim of the Parkland school massacre of some years ago.  His is well informed passion.


The insanity continues.  A recent look at a map of the daily carnage in the U.S. emphasizes Texas.  The reports and the official rhetoric about places like Allen, etc., stand on their own.

We’re a big country, and why should a guy in the blizzard belt even notice what happened 1,500 miles away in Brownsville TX?

It’s pretty easy.

First, I know real Texans.  Good folks.

My parents retired to San Benito TX. a Rio Grande Valley town 20 miles from Brownsville, about five miles from the river, first as winter Texans for a couple of winters beginning about 1976, then year-round beginning in 1978 until Dad moved north in 1987.  Texas had become home. (Mom died in 1981).

Mom’s sisters and their husbands had preceded my folks to the Valley.  One of my cousins has wintered for years about 50 miles up river.

They and San Benito gave a pleasant introduction to a pleasant country.  We could walk across the bridge to Matamoros.  Spanish was the first language for some of the kids in the local public school, where Dad volunteered for some years teaching English as a Second Language.  My folks were church people, and got to know well hispanic parishioners at their church.  The only dramatic incident I recall from their years there was a pretty aggressive tropical storm about 1979; and at least once we were there visiting during a ‘norther’ where we experienced a bit of “winter’ at 30 degrees.  (Yes, it seemed cold.  In Minnesota it would have been almost shirt sleeve weather.)

In  Nov. 1969 I was at a conference in Houston, which included a jaunt to the Manned Spacecraft Center not long after the moon landing.

Apollo 11 Manned Spacecraft Center Houston Nov. 1969.  Photo Dick Bernard

I’ve been to San Antonio a couple of times, through west Texas by road once through El Paso (a forever drive).  On another occasion toured the massive King Ranch.  A nephew and family have lived for years in Houston, and a daughter started her teaching career in Houston.  I’ve even been to Luckenbach TX, made famous by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.   (If you can find someone who’s been to Luckenbach, ask them about the place…or you can ask me!  It will be a short description!  The video was not made in Luckenbach, rest assured.  But it was worth the trip.  )

But I depart from what I’d like to say.  There is a kind and gentle Texas today, but it’s increasingly well hidden by the ascendance of mean and nasty as official narrative.

A relative has gotten heavily involved in the plight of so-called ‘Illegals” just seeking a better life, but labelled as pariahs, un-welcome.

I’m glad I’ve been to Texas.  I have no particular inclination to to go back to a place whose leadership seems numb to tragedies, okay with rank injustice, especially to those just looking for a better chance; to a place which exports “illegals” with impunity and celebrates fences and walls and weapons and restriction of rights only to those who’ve clawed their way to the top of the decision making heap.

There are lots of good, gentle people in Texas.  They’ve been temporarily buried under mean and nasty.

There will be justice in Texas.  And Texas isn’t any different than the rest of us, except like being a bully, demanding attention.  It won’t last, Texans with too large an attitude.

To all people of good will, keep on, keeping on.


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