Sheinkopf Speaks: A Lone Star Story


It’s a whole other country. That’s the ad campaign tagline promoting travel to Texas. 

The wide boulevard to the state capital building is named Congress Street.  Lone Star flags flown once over the Capitol building are lowered and given to the honorable,. We forget. Texas was once a whole other country.

Hank Sheinkopf

Historical markers direct tourists to the San Jacinto battle site, and to places where Texans fought Mexicans. Movies made in old Hollywood celebrated the deaths of the defenders of a place called the Alamo, remember.  It was a massacre. War crimes were committed by order of  Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna. William B. Travis wrote an open letter reportedly taught to Texas schoolchildren, the Letter of Defiance. Travis– who’d replaced James Bowie of knife fame as commander of  Alamo forces–underlined twice “Victory or Death.”

The Texas Revolution created the Republic of Texas, and later the slave state Texas which to become inhabitable had to be cleared of native Americans. Blood leaked through it borders. Bravery in battle. An honor code. And a hatred of all who would impose control. Texas is the land of unbridled capitalism, few business controls, low or no taxes, and right-to-work union hating. Zoning? You must be kidding. Now you know what it means when a Texan says “that just ain’t right.”

During the Carter years’ when Arab states’ actions jacked up gas prices, bumper stickers in oil-rich Texas urged drivers to hit 70 miles per hour and “freeze a Yankee.”

Texans beat Mexico over 175 years ago. But the Mexican-American population has soared, and the once invulnerable in Texas now find their electoral grip starting to slip. A place that once proved its fear of government interference–the State Legislature meets only several months every other year–has in its borders, Houston, considered possibly the nation’s most diverse city. The Lone Star flies over the brown-hued Capitol, and the highly tolerant surrounding city, Austin, votes liberal.

You can vote to permit people to drink whiskey by the glass or not or you can be a dry county. You can wear a big belt buckle, tall hat, and boots, listen to sad country and western music and grab a cold long neck bottle of beer. 

You can do a lot in the Lone Star State. You can fly across Texas–it takes about 4 hours–but abortion? You see, they did such a good job of coaxing corporations and jobs to leave the northeast, they had to build new cities called suburbs outside of Dallas for example. They earn less. But everything is cheaper. And those newcomers are just going to have to adjust. 

Victory or Death, Underline it twice. It’s the Texas way. The more Yankees tell the older white men who control the place to change their ways, the less they will. Change their ways and the place is going to belong to the people who live in those new cities, talk funny, actually think Mexicans are more than food, and who can’t imagine killing Comanches. After all, who would want that? Didn’t you know it’s a whole other country.