,f A r.:”Ifiarlpfirk.sforpo ra p ero mpoz ,. Texas’ Love Affair with States’ Rights John Bainbridge, in a New Yorker series on Texas, devoted most of his April 22 installment to the state’s political culture, including some penetrating insights into the curious Texas ambivalence on “federal aid.” We excerpt his article in NEW YORK In their talent for self-deception, Americans have few peers. “Nowhere, surely, is the superiority of American knowhow more evident than in our use of hypocrisy,” William S. White, veteran Washington correspondent, Pulitzer Prize winner, and native of De Leon, Texas, observed a while ago in beginning a Harper’s essay straightforwardly titled “The American Genius for Hypocrisy.” Though this form of know-how is hardly an American monopoly \(“There’s nothing commoner in life than hypocrisy,” another Texhave turned the practice of conning ourselves into an art. And Texans, being SuperAmericans, have perfected it. Thus, when the poet George Cabot Lodge asks, “Was there ever such an anomaly as the American man?” the answer is, “Yes, the Super-American man.” Consider his love affair with the doctrine of states’ rights, a term that, like “Mother” or “The Alamo,” can make moist his eyes. To listen to his passionate public utterances, one would think he not only originated the doctrine but stood as its sole and beleaguered protector. Thus, when Governor Nelson Rockefeller made his swing through the region in 1959, the Houston Post headlined its story of his visit “Rockefeller Backs States’ Rights Here,” and the Dallas News reported “Rocky Vows Belief in States’ Rights.” Like everybody else outside Dixie, he had been suspected of being against them. UREE WHISKEY, it has been I said, will draw a crowd anywhere; in Texas free talk about states’ rights will do the same. It did in December, 1958, after an advertisement in the Houston papers announced, “Believe in States’ Rights? . . . Don’t _Fail to Hear Hon. Orval Faubus, Governor of Arkansas. . . . Tonight at 7:45 p.m. . . . Music Hall . . . Admission Free . . . Governor Faubus, Outstanding Defender of States’ Rights, Will Speak Under the Sponsorship of the Sons of the American Revolution in Observance of Bill of Rights Day. . . . His address will be on ‘States’ Rights.’ ” As the ad hinted, the Governor did touch on the topic of states’ rights, which is locally interpreted to mean that there must be absolutely no interference whatever by any non-Texas agency or person in the domestic affairs of what Senator William A. Blakley and other stalwarts refer to as “Texas, a sovereign state and once-sovereign nation.” In the light of this interpretation, a rumor, for example, that Walter Reuther has endorsed a Texas candidate for Congress is apt to stir up about as much public alarm around the state as a report that the Premier of the U.S.S.R. has taken up residence in Austin. While fiercely opposing interference in their sovereign state, Texans think it all right for them to interfere in the domestic affairs of other sovereign states. Their specialty is influencing the election of Congressional candidates with contributions of cash. For instance, Clint Murchison, as THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 6 May 27, 1961 ardent a states’-righter as ever came out of Athens, Texas, contributed ten thousand dollars to help defeat Senator Millard Tydings, of Maryland, and another ten to unseat Senator William Benton, of Connecticut both among the few outspoken Senatorial critics of Murchison’s friend the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. Texas millionaires have also put money into the campaign funds of candidates in Arizona, California, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, to mention those states where their contributions are on record. AS DEDICATED believers in states’ rights, the Super-Amen leans take the logical position that the wickedest interference in their affairs is the federal government’s. Consequently, terms like “social security,” “federal aid to education,” “welfare,” and “medical care for the aged” are dirty words to Texas millionaires. They hold with a recent editorial in the Dallas News, which declared, “When our forefathers stepped ‘ on the west bank of the Mississippi and headed’ west to carve an empire, did they look back over their shoulders to the national government for ‘welfare’ and help? No with an axe and a Bible and a wife, the pioneer did it himself.” One difference between the pioneers stepping on the riverbank and the Texas millionaires stepping into their swimming pools is that the millionaires won’t do it themselves; they re THE GLASS ROOSTER, by William F. Mcllwain; Doubleday & Co., Inc. NEW YORK This is a novel about the race struggle in the South, spun out with sympathy, suspense, and a commendable lack of preaching. It is the story of an athletic young World War II veteran who returns temporarily to his hometown in South Carolina after several years as a recreation specialist in New York. The hero, Howard Cobb, has been asked to come back to Fundy to study its public recreation program and recommend improvements. He has been looking forward to his return. He sees no sign of the turmoil in which he is about the become embroiled. His wife, a Northern girl who stays behillu in New York to await the birth of a child, warns him in advance that he may face trouble over the segregation -issue when he returns to Fundy. But Cobb scoffs. “I know how to get along with SouthernerS,” he says. “After all, I AM a Southerner.” And then he adds: “Look, I’m not going down there to stump for the NAACP. I’m going down there to work on parks.” But Cobb learns soon after returning to Fundy that he cannot separate his park job from the segregation issue. He becomes aware that Fundy no longer is the same town he left behinda town where whites and Negroes had lived for years in peace and some degree of mutual respect. A DRUGGIST who had be friended him since his youth is being boycotted by the local citizenry–Cobb’s father included. A fuse to support tax measures that would give the state enough money to meet its exoenses, and, as a result, Texans are obliged to swallow their pride and ask for federal aid. Taking a deep swallow, Texas, which stands sixth in population among the states and seventh in the amount of federal taxes paid, ranks third in the amount of money it takes every year from the federal government. An indication of the Texans’ skill at getting into the Washington trough is the fact that their state is first in taking federal handouts for agricultural experiment stations, child-welfare services, cooperative agricultural-extension work, hospital construction, primary-highway funds,, secondary-highway funds, watershed protection, flood prevention, and services for crippled children; second in taking federal funds for old-age assistance, aid to the blind, and wildlife restoration; and third in taking money for interstate-highway construction and the maintenance and operation of schools. By dipping its hand ever deeper into the federal till, Texas has now reached a point where a fourth of ‘the state’s annual income is derived from the United States government. Texans talk less about this than about their fiscal skill in getting along without either a state income tax or a state sales tax. Such is their pride in this accomplishment that they suffered no visible humiliation when, in thespring of 1959, the sovereign state and once-sovereign nation was completely flatpocket, and was forced to pay its 5-year-old Negro girl had accidentlly spilled a little of her orange drink on a white woman’s dress in his store. When the white woman called the little girl a “clumsy nigger,” the druggist had told the woman she ought to be ashamed of herself. Cobb’s father is perfectly willing to skin a catfish for an old Negro who has lived on his farm for yearsbut won’t let Cobb give the old man a pair of his worn trousers. Cobb takes the trousers to the old manwhom he has called Uncle Boo since his boyhoodjust the same. And then he learns just how much things have changed in Fundy. “If anybody’s going to give britches to the niggers,” Cobb’s father tells him, “it’s going to be not going to be anybody in my house.” They argue. Cobb’s father tells him: “You’ve been off in the North and got pumped so full of talk that you won’t listen to your own people . . . It must be one hell of a place if everybody wants to go around loving the niggers.” “Dammit, Pop, I don’t go around loving anybody,” Cobb replies. “Not by groups at least. Whites, Negroesanything else. A man can be a white man and be a bastard and he can be a black man and be a bastard.’ He can be a good man the same way.” And here we come to the crux of many racial relationships in today’s South. Cobb’s father tells him: “I know that. There’s plenty of niggers I think more of than I do some white men. I always got along with theM fine and I still could. The Supreme Court and the Naps are what caused employees with hot checks. EVEN THOUGH Texas takes a L highly disproportionate share of federal funds, it lags in the services it provides its oitizens. For example, in 1959 Texas was first among the states in the amount of federal money accepted for child-welfare services but forty-fourth in the amount spent for child-welfare services; in other words, Texans will not part with enough of their own money to bring the level of care for their dependent children even up to the national average. The pattern is consistent: Texas is second in the amount of federal money it takes for old-age assistance, fortieth in the amount spent; and so on. Texans make no secret of the fact that they lead the nation in cattle production; at the same time, the state ranks forty-seventh in the amount of money the legislature provides for animal-health work. “That’s not very much money to do the job right,” the director of the State Livestock Sanitary Commission has said of his budget. “It’s like trying to paint the Capitol Building in Austin with a pint of paint.” The director of the Texas prison system has some concern about his budget, too; he told a legislative committee in February, 1959, “We are absolutely broke. We don’t have a dollar. We are the most understaffed of any prison system in the country.” The prisons, he added, are so overcrowded that two or three men occupy space designed for one, and some five hundred men are obliged to sleep on the floor. Things had not improved by the early part of 1961, when the director told the legislature that he could not even pay his outstanding bills. “We’re running on borrowed time,” he said. “We need help.” TEXANS take justifiable pride in I their industry, which has skyrocketed to tenth place in the the trouble. They stirred it up, trying to make us mix, trying to make us do something we couldn’t do. And now even the niggers I like, I can’t have anything to do with. They’ve all got to pay for it together and, by God, they won’t get any help from me until this thing is settled.” Mcllwain makes clear the import he attaches to this section of his novel. His description of his hero’s thoughts at the moment of the father’s pronouncement makes it evident that he means for the passage to set the tone for his entire book. He writes : “There it was, Howard thought, put as clearly, perhaps, as he would ever hear it the feeling that now existed in the South. White men were banding together against all Negroes, even Negroes they had liked in the past. For each man, this struggle against a changing way of life had become a personal effort; and for a few it had become a mission, a dream . . . The South had always had its handful of ignorant men who lived on hatred. But now they were being joined by decent men . . . Where would it finally end?” It would be nice if Mcllwain provided the answer. He does not, but his novel does give some hint of the several directions the South may take before its current struggle does finally endif, indeed, it ever does. And, in doing so, he reels out an exciting yarn. THERE ARE some characters who easily could have become stereotypes for a novel of this kind: the bully-boy racist sheriff and his equally brutal deputy; the nation; little is heard of the fact that the industrial-accident toll in Texas is one of the highest, if not the highest, in the country. ,Nobody knows for sure, because Texas, alone among the large industrial states, has no state industrial-safety program and therefore no state agency charged with collecting statistics on industrial injuries. In public-school enrollment and in number of teachers employed, Texas ranks third among the states, but in total spending for education it ranks sixth, in teachers’ salaries twenty-eighth, and in spending per pupil thirty-second. It is able to do this well only because it accepts more federal aid for schools than any other state except California and Virginia. And still more could be used, since Texas, whose young men stood fortieth in Selective Service mental tests during the Second World War, has some eight hundred thousand illiterates over the age of twenty-four, thereby plac-, ing eleventh among the states in rate of illiteracy. The ambivalence that colors some aspects of life in Texas often puzzles outsiders, especially Europeans, such as the Italian industrialist who remarked after a sojourn in Texas, “They treat your Uncle Sam as if he were a complete stranger. You listen to them, and you think he doesn’t protect them with an Army, a Navy, an Air Force; he doesn’t make any missiles; he doesn’t build any dams; he doesn’t build any roads; he doesn’t support a Foreign Service, an Intelligence Service he doesn’t do anything for them. They just want to forget him. It’s fantastic.” Not, however, to an American accustomed to the dualism in the native grain, but even he might be moved to wonder how much federal aid Texans would be willing to accept if they approved of it. To Be Concluded rabble-rousing radio commentator who uses the race struggle for personal gain; the courtly South
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