Republic of Texas

Dare ya! Just try to imagine a Texas 'way of life' that doesn't include a lot of religious stuff

Dare ya! Just try to imagine a Texas 'way of life' that doesn't include a lot of religious stuff

Believe it or not, candidate Barack Obama was not talking about Texas when he was taped explaining the whole red-zip-codes God, guns and gays puzzle to the elite audience at a San Francisco fundraiser back in 2008.

Think back. You may recall that he was talking about the culture of small towns and working-class people in Pennsylvania and across the heartland Midwest.

Now what was the guts of that infamous quote

... It's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them. ...

Wow. Times sure have changed.

It's good to see that all of those cultural warfare issues have faded into the background, far from the headlines. Especially in places like Texas.

Oh wait. There is this rather epic headline at The Washington Post right now:

‘Straight into the paper shredder:’ Texans the first to decry Obama’s schools directive about transgender bathrooms

OK, journalists, make that God, guns, gays and gender (as in clinging to biologically based concepts of gender).

Now, this latest lighting strike of executive privilege had not come down from on high when we record this week's Crossroads podcast (click here to tune that in). But we did talk about the great and very unique state of Texas and that recent attempt at The New York Times to explain Texas to the rest of America.

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The New York Times tries to explain Texas to America: Oh my God they just don't get it

The New York Times tries to explain Texas to America: Oh my God they just don't get it

For years now, my online GetReligion mini-biography has identified me as a "prodigal Texan." That has been my way of saying that I will always, to some degree, be a Texan, but that my view of the Lone Star state is not quite the same as the natives who cannot conceive of living anywhere else.

But I get Texas. Please trust me on that, by which I mean that I understand the forces that make Texas tick. I keep a can of Wolf brand chili in my kitchen pantry just in case any visiting Texans ask me That Question.

This leads me, of course, to that first-person piece called "What Makes Texas Texas" written by Manny Fernandez of the New York Times office in Houston.

First things first: You mean he isn't based in Austin? I can't believe that someone from the Times would consent to work in Texas and not be based in the people's republic of Austin. Seriously. Well, I guess there are a few Austin-friendly neighborhoods in hip Houston.

This isn't a hard-news piece, but it contains some crucial information that news consumers on planet earth need to read in order to understand the elite cultural forces that shape our news. Let's start with this church of personal material by Fernandez right up top:

I was born and raised in Central California, and I moved to Houston from Brooklyn in June 2011 to cover Texas for The New York Times. I live here with my wife, my 7-year-old son and my 3-year-old daughter, who keeps a pair of pink cowboy boots outside on the porch or inside by the front door. I have covered stories in the South, the Midwest and other parts of the country. People in those places identified with their political party, their job, their cause, their sexual orientation, their city, their race. Almost no one identified with their state the way Texans do.
Who are these people, these Texans?

Well, for starters, hit pause. Look at that list of life-shaping forces: That would be "political party," "job," "cause," "sexual orientation," "city," "race" and "state." OK, Texans, can I get a witness? What is missing from that list?

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