Hatin’ on Texas

Anybody who’s from Texas and travels outside the state knows what I’m talking about. You meet someone, you get to talking, you say you’re from El Paso, and their nose wrinkles up as they ask, “Texas?” like a bad smell just invaded the room. On Friday, I met a man who says he refuses to even fly over the state. How do you refuse to fly over a state? And why would you even bother? Sure, he was making a joke, sort of. But still.

I’ve tried to figure this latent and sometimes not-so-latent hostility out.  What I’ve come to realize is that these people who wrinkle their noses when you say you’re from Texas are almost invariably liberal and their hatin’ on Texas is a political statement: George W. is from Texas and Texas is a Republican state; ergo, Texas is bad. (By the way, I’ve heard conservatives make similar statements about places like Boulder or Berkeley or San Francisco.)

Whatever. I don’t like Dallas myself but why not? Because of some stereotype? Besides El Paso, I actually really like some other places in Texas–Austin and San Antonio, for example. I do feel frustration that the Texas-Mexico border region is so frequently ignored by the rest of the state, except when the state wants to turn its eagle eye onto the “problems” of immigration or transnational crime. But the truth is, Texas is full of good people, some okay people, and some people who aren’t so hot and might even be downright evil–just like any place. The partisan politics that cause people to dislike an entire region are pretty damn silly, when you think about it. So why is it so socially acceptable?

Comments 5

  1. Erik

    I think because it is so silly nobody really takes it as serious prejudice. Perhaps people recognize those statements for their political nature and don’t take them to heart.

    I knew one woman who wouldn’t fly through Lexington, KY because she was so angered that her English degree at UK hadn’t really prepared her to be a professional writer. That was personal, not political, but I never took it as a general reflection on Lexingtonites.

  2. Jess

    You’re probably right but sometimes it seems more serious to me. Maybe it’s just ‘cuz I’m from Texas!

  3. Aja

    I think it’s a political statement, but even more than that, I think it’s about southern prejudice. I can’t even tell you how many dumb southerner jokes I hear. Which offends me and mine, you know? I think people lump Texas in with that.

    And why don’t you like Dallas? Probably the obvious reasons, but I just thought I’d ask.

  4. Jess

    Oooh, that’s right, you’re from Dallas but I like YOU so that must mean Dallas is A-OK. I don’t know, Dallas Cowboys & their cheerleaders who wear too much makeup, teased hair, very white despite a Hispanic presence which you never see–probably a latent El Paso v. Dallas hostility that crept in growing up in West Texas.

  5. Erik

    There’s another aspect though to the dumb southerner jokes; self-deprecation is an important part of our cultural sense of humor. I hear more lawyer jokes from lawyers than anybody else, and more aggie jokes from other aggies, Baptist jokes from Baptists, et cetera. Only a very small number of the jokes I’ve heard about ethnic/social/professional/gender associations were actually mean-spirited. And most people seemed to recognize that you could insert any other group into the joke. I think that’s what really gave rise to the IYFEG and JEDR acronyms. Not so much an attempt to avoid offending, but just a recognition that substitutions were so easy that only the hypersensitive could really take offense.

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