Saturday, March 14, 2009

Texas secedes again

Fifth time's a charm?

I
n 1822 a bunch of white Americans from the Southeast, proto-Texans, left the US and crossed the Mississippi River and essentially re-introduced the institution of slavery into northern Mexico. In 1829 Mexico outlawed slavery, but gave the white slavers in the state of Coahuila y Tejas special dispensation until 1830. (The abolition movement was growing around the world, and slavery was abolished in the French Revolution - although Napoleon brought it back briefly - was outlawed in the British Empire in 1833, and so on.) Against this worldwide trend, early Texans seceded from Mexico in the so-called "Texas Revolution" (more accurately a Reaction) in 1835-6. Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie, and Sam Houston are still revered in the US as heroes of that war for slavery.

The American ex-pats of the Texan Republic soon joined the US - no shocker there - but a generation later left the US again in 1861. It was over slavery again (which wasn't strictly under threat in the US at the time, but slave states felt challenged by the election of Abe Lincoln, a moderate in that he opposed expansion of slavery - the slavers' bluff had been called, essentially).

After the war, black and Latino Texans faced regular atrocities from the Ku Klux Klan and the revered Texas Rangers (not much like the Lone Ranger), as well as Jim Crow laws and so on. In 1954 when Brown v. Board of Education banned racial segregation in public schools, the governor called out the Rangers to impede black students. Racist resistance continued through the 1970s - a kind of running secession from the trend toward civil rights and equality that was sweeping the world. "White flight" from cities in Texas - as elsewhere - represents one facet of this subtler, but no less racist neo-secession.

There's a connection here to anti-immigration movements, like the Minute Men (a kind of continuum between US Border Patrol and American Nazis - but that's for another time.

Now yesterday, with the recession growing and the threat of federal "expansion" of officially-defined unemployed (most people who aren't working don't count, rather conveniently) Texas governor Rick Perry turned down $555 million to bailout the state's sinking unemployment fund - which the state's own Workforce Commission chair says could be in the red in seven months.

"During these tough times," he says, "Texas employers are working harder than ever..." blah, blah, blah (my emphasis). What about Texas workers, being canned by the hundreds of thousands every week?

Perry's not alone, of course, which is what suggests there's a new wave of genuine neo-secessionism in the birthing here.

1 comment:

John said...

Methinks America would be better off without Texas. Let 'em secede. Better yet, kick 'em out of the Union.

I've never really understood why it was so important to A. Lincoln that the Union be preserved.