the circular runner

Is it me, or is it Texas?

In observations on July 15, 2010 at 10:14 pm

The Bad Vibes of Texas

I just got back from my whirlwind tour of the Southwest. With my wife at my side, we went all over the region, saw beautiful country, had a lot of great food (think beef) and we even stayed with great people for a few of the days we were gone. The amazing family we stayed with was even more amazing considering they live in Texas–Dallas, Texas to be exact.

I cannot speak to the kind of city Dallas is. Mainly, we stayed in and ate with our hosts. This is odd for me. Usually, if you land me in a city of any size, I’m chomping at the bit to go look around and explore, but not so with Dallas. As a whole, the state of Texas scares me. I’ve never felt this way before on a road trip. Maybe I’m getting older and turning into one of those scared elderly types who doesn’t like to leave home for fear that something terrible could happen. I have noticed more reticence creeping in. On this trip, there was a small town where I avoided a gas station bathroom because a strange looking man was walking toward us from the highway. I tightened my bladder and got in the car and headed for a better lit place to do my business. I’d like to think that this, in part, comes out of concern for my wife. It is one thing to travel by myself and pee where I like but quite another to pee with a loved one waiting for you. OK, maybe that’s it. Or, maybe I am starting to get too careful. BUT, when it comes to Texas, I think something else is also at play.

I already mentioned the porn stores in between the highway churches (see earlier post–really good, hint, hint). On our way out of the state, we also passed small towns with huge banners that announced a love for country and God. I have no problem with either, but there’s just something off-putting to me about announcements like that. It makes for a patriotism and a religiosity that is too uniform and too restrictive. More to the point, such public announcements give license to hatred and discrimination. If there’s a group of people you don’t like, you can take your dislike and change it into that group’s lack of patriotism or their lack of godliness, which sounds a lot better than saying that you just don’t like them.

All of this brings me to the Westboro Baptist Church (I will not link, but if you like, Google them.
The good folks at Westboro are famous for hate. No, that’s not quite right. They are known for hating different groups and communities and then saying that God hates those communities, too. I have to say that that kind of theology is very convenient. Somehow, every community that irks the Westboro Baptists (gays, Catholics, the US government–just to name a few) also seems to irk the great creator. I know that some in the organization (it’s not really a church) will say that they hate because God hates, which still seems pretty convenient to me because that means they have some kind of hate hotline to God. Maybe it’s a phone or maybe God Tweets them–hate can be done in under 114 characters, btw.

While in Dallas, I went to a protest set up by the Westboro Baptists. Don’t worry if you missed it because they have a site that lists all of their activities, and there seems to be at least one every week. The protest I went to was in front of a church that is open to the LGBT community and that happens to be smack-dab in the middle of the gay neighborhood in Dallas. It was a lively affair, but mainly that was because twice as many anti-protesters showed up to picket the Westboro Baptists’ picket line. There were many signs and some were funny–most were, actually. But I can’t help but feel horrified by what I saw. These Westboro haters might be in the minority, but they represent a kind of hatred that is dangerous and that shouldn’t be ignored. They believe what they believe with such conviction that they are willing to stand out in the rain on an awful, humid Dallas afternoon and be laughed at. That kind of conviction is attractive to many, and I think that’s part of the reason the organization seems to do so much protesting. They are hoping to get the message out: they believe what they believe and they do so without the burden of doubt. (I don’t want to be too partisan here, but does this lack of doubt remind you of a recent president who resides in the state?)

Obviously, this kind of group could and does exist anywhere. Texas is not alone. In fact, to be fair, the Westboro people are based out of Kansas. I know this, but still there’s something about a state in which for the week I was there, I saw only one out-of-state license. Maybe it’s anecdotal. Maybe there’s tons of visitors and maybe the Westboro people are alone out there in the Lone Star State, but I’m from California and I live in San Francisco, so I am going to be ignorant in my own Lefty-Liberal way and say without doubt that Texas gives off some bad vibes, dude.

  1. great article, very informative, keep writing.

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