I haven’t gotten apoplectic over Donald Trump, like so many of my associates on the Left. It terrified me that he’s unleashed the Brown Shirts at his rallies, and I don’t know that they’ll be contained, but Trump himself is no threat. He’s actually anti-interventionist in some areas, is pro-choice, and, despite all his bluster, he’s not gonna build a wall. But the biggest reason I’m somewhat nonplussed about The Donald is that I live in a state with the most extreme, insane, and frightening politics of them all–Texas.
Since I’ve been here (1995) the most moderate and reasonable statewide office holder has been, hold your hats, George W. Bush. The state GOP considered Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Rick Perry too liberal. A SuperPAC ran ads in the past couple weeks accusing Trump of being too liberal. You can’t smoke on campuses, but you can carry a gun into class. Some folks have even resurrected a German word for Ted Cruz, Texas senator and prez candidate– Backpfeifengesicht, meaning “a face in good need of a punch.”
But when it comes to batshit crazy, the State Board of Education probably takes the cake. The Board exist in a different world and time–like the 18th Century. It’s mandated that Texas textbooks refer to the “Atlantic Triangular Trade” instead of slavery, that Moses be presented as a founding father, that the bible be discussed as a foundational political document. Just last year, Guv Greg Abbott appointed Donna Bahorich to chair the State Board of Ed. She’s from Houston, a devout Republican who believes in vouchers and the aforementioned textbook editing, and she home-schooled three sons and then sent them to private school. She has zero experience with the Texas public ed system.
Ah, but Ms. Bahorich is virtually enlightened compared to Mary Lou Bruner, who won the GOP primary for the Board of Ed last night and is guaranteed victory in the general election. Ms. Bruner rocketed to fame with her astute observations about American political life, which resonated with all her fellow-travelers on the right deep in the heart of Batshitville, aka Texas. Barack Obama supported gay rights, she’s explained, “because of the years spent as a male prostitute in his twenties.” The recent spate of school shootings began when public schools started teaching evolution. Books on sex ed which teachers are reading to litte kids have been banned from prisons but are allowed in schools and they “stimulate children to experiment with sex.” And it goes on and on . . .
But Ms. Bruner’s most compelling observation is rooted in natural science–she explains to us why the dinosaurs died out:
When the flood waters subsided and rushed to the oceans there was no vegetation on the earth because the earth had been covered with water. … The dinosaurs on [Noah’s ark] may have been babies and not able to reproduce. … After the flood, the few remaining Behemoths and Leviathans may have become extinct because there was not enough vegetation on earth for them to survive to reproductive age.
Atheists, she goes on, “cannot logically dispute these FACTS because the fossils exist.”
Ms. Bruner would have been laughed out of her village in the 18th century, quite possibly sent to an asylum to run out her natural life.
Today, in what passes for the 21st Century in Texas, she’s one of the people making education policy for a state with 27 million people, an economy bigger than most nations, and a higher ed system–especially UT-Austin–that is generally well-regarded.
So, yes, Trump’s Red Guard is scary and has to be confronted, but in Texas, a group of 40 armed men can sit outside a breakfast restaurant to intimidate a group of moms having a meeting about gun violence, and it’s perfectly legal and acceptable.
Sorry if I’m not as exercised about The Donald as my comrades elsewhere. But when you live in the most batshit crazy place in America, Riyadh on the Rio, the ravings of a rich guy spouting reactionary gibberish just don’t seem quite as awful as they really are.
Now I have to get out back and feed my dinosaur. It hasn’t rained much lately and we’re running out of vegetation.