Described as “enormous and black” on the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy web site, Bigfoot is stalking East Texans. And their elected officials are retreating to the Republican Party. Coincidence? I think not.
Back in September, a Big Thicket hunter (buckwild107 on Youtube) took some pictures of a Bigfoot-like creature hopping across a clearing. He posted them to Youtube with the following introduction:
“Bigfoot in Hardin County? Pictures from my deer blind…you decide.”
You can’t make this stuff up – by stuff I mean what the yahoos make up. No sooner does America get an African-American president than certain folk start seeing “enormous and black” monsters in the woods. And, predictably, the land of the yellow dogs just turns yellow. State Rep. Chuck Hopson is elected from the area between the Bigfoot sitings and the location of the Texas Bigfoot Research Community’s 2009 convention in Tyler. Hopson abandoned his colleagues to join the Bigfoot Brigade, otherwise known as the GOP.
Back in the 70s, my first big scoop as a reporter (credited by Texas Monthly, March, 1977, in “Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged”) involved U.S. District Judge James Noel. When another federal judge ordered the desegregation of Houston schools in 1970, Noel transferred his sons out of the Houston district and into an all-white district next door. When Noel later wound up with the desegregation case, he was disqualified because of his demonstrated bias.
Hopson reminds me of Judge Noel. President Barack Obama is to Hopson what the presence of minorities at Houston’s Lamar High School was to Noel. Hopson is an affable guy. I don’t think he’s racist. He just believes his political future is safer among them.
After years of corruption and failed policies, Republicans were drubbed in the last two elections. They’ve been forced to take refuge in a kind of Southern Reconstruction-era racist refuge. Gov. Rick Perry’s secession talk is aimed at building such a barricade of bigots. It’s a long-term loser, sidling up to cranks, teabaggers and cross-burners. Beyond the racist fringe, few moderate Texans will want to join such a club. And the GOP is giving up all hope of attracting Hispanic and African-American voters.
Among Texas political insiders, everyone knows there was a small but still significant racist backlash to Obama. Elected officials hear the ugly talk from some of their constituents. Racist, anti-Obama emails are spreading faster than the swine flu. Public discussion of the issue makes people nervous, I know, but we have to talk about it.
Once again, I don’t believe Hopson’s motivation is racist. I think it is a lack of courage. Rather than stand up for what he knows is right, he’s abandoning what he believes to try and save his political future.
Hopson doesn’t have the strength or the integrity to stand up to the special interests, interests that are cynically exploiting racist fears to hide their pillaging of Texas’ future.
There are legitimate policy arguments among Republicans and Democrats. I am not arguing that those differences can be reduced to issues of race. They can’t. Racists are a minority, which makes it all the sadder that the GOP leadership panders to them.
Chuck Hopson told his colleagues that he’s going to vote as he’s always voted. In other words, with regard to legitimate issues, he’s still a Democrat. Then why did he switch parties? I’m afraid the parallel with Judge James Noel holds true.
With Obama in the White House and Bigfoot in the Big Thicket, the yahoos are restless. If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. But Texas politics today is no teddy bear’s picnic. A real Bigfoot would be the least of our problems.