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111 i Miiii111111 11111 Lilkit:VI MSS In any other place Richard Lance McLaren would be a conventional upper-middle-class man enjoying aponventional upper-middle-class Christmas He,;’ trim, well-spoken, and when I met him he was wearing spiffy white walking shoes and a quality Santa-Claus-red sweatshirt Even with his halo of Albert Einstein hair encircling an advanced case of male-pattern baldness McLaren could pass for a Republican. Wr hich he is, but not the kind you usually think of. Instead, McLaren is a Republican Texiana person who thinks Texas was never a state. He and his fellow Texians believe we’re a captive nation, and now it’s time to declare independence. In the new country, there will be no big greedy corporations. But no taxes, eitherand no welfare, hardly any public schools, no driver’s licenses, and no laws telling women they can’t have abortions. Before we go further, you’ve probably already noticed something else curious about Richard Lance, McLaren. Yes: the comma between his given names and his surname. What’s it doing there? I don’t know, because none of the nine other adults holed up with McLaren this past Christmas in a makeshift fortress near Fort Davis could explain the punctuation, nor why they use it in their own names. A comma was the last thing on their minds. The first was defending the Embassy of the Republic of Texas from invasion by foreign forces: specifically, U.S. marshals out to serve an arrest warrant on McLaren, who is the republic’s Chief Ambassador and Consul General to other nations. For days the newspapers in West Texas and northern Mexico had carried reports of the standoff. It was taking place in a corrugated aluminum building behind a country store in the Davis Mountain Resort. The resort is a wilderness subdivision ten miles out of Fort Davis, where the roads have cutesy names like Tomahawk Trail, and residents have appended private street signs that say things like “Grandpa Ranch.” 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER Due to the standoff the post office wasn’t delivering Christmas cards or any other mail to the grandpas. The papers described armed militia men arriving in Fort Davis, and suggested dire intimations of another Waco or Ruby Ridge. Reading this stuff, I was surprised and alarmed. Especially because a few months ago in the magazine section of Barnes & Noble, I spied a funky little rag called Republic of Texas. Leafing through it, I recognized it as a clear and scary mix of right-wing libertarianism and populism. Yet I was charmed by what I can only describe as a quixotic irony atop the usual arch-conservative bromides. This was right after the Clinton Administration declared not only its intention to acquiesce in cutting off social entitlements for legal aliens, not to mention illegalsbut also its latest effort to beef up the militarization of the border. Meanwhile, here were Republic of Texas editors declaring that in their country, Mexicans et al. are welcome to immigrate. After all, there’ll be no free lunches in the Republic, so whoever’s here will work hard and support their kids and who cares if they’re Mexicansand to hell with the Border Patrol. Plus, when I went into the internet to see what else I could find about the Republic, I found extensive websites \( ; claim that Texas is a nation, as well as minutes of their meetings from El Paso to Corsicana, and even a discussion group open to anyone who wants to join \(send a message to and write: subscribe republic-of-texas, then Members of the discussion group are furiously engaged in writing JANUARY 17, 1997