From the Archives: Bernard Rapoport In His Own Words

Why The Texas Observer is the state’s minister of irritance


Originally published on Dec. 28, 1979

What I like best about The Texas Observer is that it is the most unpolluted institution in Texas. John Dewey once mentioned that one of his favorite quotations was “Every government needs a minister of irritance.” The Texas Observer has fulfilled that need for many years in Texas, and what I hope is that it will continue to do so in the years to come.

As one who has been deeply involved with the paper, I love it because I can’t tell anybody on the Observer what to do or say. This makes me know positively that no one else can. That’s why I am so supportive and shall continue to be in the future.

I think in many ways the Observer is more perceptive about the true feelings of Texans than most politicians and certainly most newspapers. We are not a conservative, myopic people. There is a certain indigenous commitment to independence that could be intelligently channeled with the proper leadership.

The elimination of the small farmer and the small businessman in our state, an appalling sight, will erode this wonderful spirit of independence.

If I had to select the thing I like best about the Observer, it is its ability to point out corruption and smile, and to witness the tremendous accumulation of power in fewer and fewer hands and tremble. The Observer knows that it is easier to ferret out corruption than to contain power. You can recover from the former, but the latter portends the extinction of a free society.

I hope that the Observer will continue to lash out at the power grabs that make us less and less free. Yes, I hope that is what its primary thrust will be in the years to come.

In lieu of flowers, the family  has generously requested that donations be made to The Texas Observer, or to the Rapoport Scholars Program at the University of Texas.