I miss the days when I could blame booze for killing my brain cells. Now it’s books. Texas Republican books. First Rove, then W., then Rick Perry—and now state Rep. Debbie Riddle, who’s just released Taking Back Your Country, Your Community and Your Kids, which she calls “a quick reference hand book” on “becoming an effective activist.” (What’s next in this literary devolution? Aaron Peña’s I Was a One-Term Republican?)
Until her star turn on Anderson Cooper 360 earlier this year, when she revealed the surprising news that “terror babies” were being born in the United States and then raised overseas to commit acts of terror against their birthplace, Riddle was best known as the “representative from the pit of hell.” During her freshman session representing Tomball in 2003, after a meeting of the Border and International Affairs Committee, Riddle asked an El Paso Times reporter, “Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education, free medical care, free whatever? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell. And it’s cleverly disguised as having a tender heart. It’s not a tender heart. It’s ripping the heart out of this country.”
Riddle does not delve into the terror-baby episode in her book, sold by the online self-publishing outfit Lulu. But she writes in vivid detail about her “pit of hell” experience, first blaming it on the reporter “pushing his agenda,” and then on her having been “tired and cranky.” But why assign blame or make excuses? As Riddle paints it, her anti-immigrant rant heard ’round the world was a triumph of political bravery. After describing her Republican colleagues’ anger after the quote got around, she paints a poignant picture of herself as a scorned champion of the unvarnished truth:
Later that afternoon, we were able to break for lunch – a rare treat! There was a special luncheon at the Austin Club honoring the freshman Republican State Reps. All the Republican State Reps attended – seniors and freshmen alike, as well as Senators and lobbyists. I arrived with my purse and briefcase in hand a few minutes late. As I walked in the door, I scanned the room to see it totally full. There did not seem to be an empty chair at any of the beautifully appointed round tables for eight. There seemed to be only one seat left at a table near where I was standing not far from the doorway. I asked my colleagues (my friends) if that seat was taken and if I could sit there. Their response was a cool “I guess so.” After putting my briefcase and purse at that one empty chair I proceeded to the buffet line to get my lunch. Upon returning to my table, I was shocked to discover everyone had evacuated the table!
Who knew bigotry could be such a lonely business? But there is, you see, a lesson to be learned from all of this—a lesson in courage, in standing alone for what it right. In being a pioneer, even. “Nobody was talking about illegal immigration when this event happened,” Riddle claims, with all the veracity she showed Anderson Cooper and the world. “Not in political circles. Not in social circles. Not even on television or talk radio. Even my staff said I was the only one discussing the issue.” (May I remind you: This was 2003.)
She goes on:
Just because you are right, and even though your “friends” may quietly agree, you can count on having many of them scatter when the tough times hit. There will certainly be times when you may need to sit at the table by yourself. It is not fun. But when you know deep within your heart that you are right, God will give you all the strength you need to sit at the table alone!
The Good Lord has given Riddle all kinds of strength—including the strength to lead a successful crusade to revise the Texas state pledge to, very awkwardly, make mention of Him. (“The Bible says that ‘life and death are in the tongue,’” she writes. “What we say with our mouth is very important.”) But Riddle’s big issue, from the get-go, has been immigration. Or rather, anti-immigration. In November, Riddle camped out at the state Capitol, literally, so she could have the honor of filing the first Arizona-style immigration bills of the 2011 Legislature.
But hey, there I go—falling right into Riddle’s trap, sounding just like “the self-appointed ‘PC police’ who would convict us of being insensitive, selfish, lacking compassion, and—even worse—a racist.”
Riddle really, really, detests political correctness—a phrase she seems hell-bent on reviving. She makes a virtue of rejecting it, illustrating the perils of “correct” language that leads us down slippery slopes to things like, you know, the Holocaust. We must not, she says, fall into that trap. To wit:
Homosexuals are now called “gays.” Gay was a word to describe joy or happiness. Girls were often named Gay for that very reason. Names like Gay Elizabeth, or Sharon Gay, or Debbie Gay were common. In our everyday language, gay was used to describe events or feelings. “It was a party filled with gaiety” or “We had a gay old time” were phrases common to our vernacular. Personally, I have chosen to call “a spade a spade”. When referring to one who wants to make their sexual preference a topic of conversation, I will not use the term gay. It is not disrespectful to say homosexual.
I could not agree more. As a homosexual who occasionally brings up his “preference” in conversation, I can attest there is little that my people enjoy more than being called a “spade.” So refreshing!
But in all fairness, homo-spades are not the only people Riddle insults in the space of 96 pages. Even her own daddy is not spared a come-down (albeit unintentionally). “My father fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima; it was a bloody, tough battle and the stakes were high,” Riddle writes. “Our battle today is no less important and the stakes are equally as high.”
What is this battle to equal WWII, pray tell? “We are at war to regain common sense, integrity, respect for our Constitution, respect for our laws, and religious freedom,” Riddle proclaims. And later: “Bill O’Reilly calls it the Culture War. What people fail to understand is that the far left/the Progressive Democrats/the Secular Progressives/whatever title they choose, have declared war on our culture – on freedom loving Americans.
“We did not start this war, they did,” Riddle writes. “And make no mistake. This is a war our nation must fight within our own borders, neighborhoods, schools, and even homes. That means you and me. We are the ones on the front lines. You must know the enemy and know him well. You must know the enemy better than he knows himself. This book will help you with some tools in this fight.”
And there you have it—straight from the mouth of someone who is, unquestionably, one of the tools in this fight.