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ple I spent Christmas with believe thiseven though, from what I can figure by reading their discussion group list and meeting minutes and viewing videos of their demonstrations, they have perhaps two or three hundred ardent followers. Nevertheless, the Republic Texians believe that threeourths of Texas’s nineteen million people favor making the state a nation. Just look at the polls, they say: why even Texas Monthly had one with results like that. I try to explain that Texas Monthly readers probably think of The Republic of Te?cas the same way they do The Republic of Tea: just another campy metaphor or cute product \(didn’t McLaren tell me that one entrepreneur wants to open a Republic of Texas restaurant midget Christmas tree and cheaply gift-wrapped presents in a drafty Quonset hut, has never heard of The Republic of Tea. The grocery stores they shop in don’t sell $7.99-a-canister herbal decoctions, and if Texas Monthly ever runs a piece on them, the Texians will no doubt be portrayed as a bunch of bubbas who are too low class to even drink Lipton’s. So I don’t know.whether to laugh or cry as two little preschooler boysthe sons of another militia member and his young wife tear into their presents under the tree. I don’t know what to say when David Blackmon and I share a cigarette outside the but and he tells me that the American people are so angry with the government that the Republic of Texas is our one very last hope for peace. Nor can I say anything as Blackmon, flicking his ashes, comments that the last day he remembers as happy as this one, under siege, was the day his commanding officer in Vietnam called him out from the cave he was living in and told he was going home to the States and the helicopter would be there in fifteen minutes. Back in the hut, the Republic of Texas women have prepared a Christmas feast. Ham, turkey, biscuits, vegetables, potatoes, pecan pie, cheesecake. Before the eating begins, White Eagle takes a paper plate and ceremoniously places a morsel on it from each dish. It is understood that grace will be a Native American prayerand this is fitting, since the Republic of Texas has recently expelled from its provisional government a faction who insisted that the new country be Christian, and by implication supremely white. Later, I will read one of Rick McLaren’s seminal documents that he claims proves our right to be a republic: the 1861 Declaration of the Causes Which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union. In this declaration I read nary a qualm from Texas about giving up nationhoodin fact, the legislators seem positively joyful to subserve themselves to the Confederacy as a humble state. Reading the Declaration, I am sickened almost to nausea by the Confederate State of Texas’ passionate assertion that “the servitude of the African to the white race…should exist in all future time” because of the “undeniable truth” that Africans are “an inferior and dependent race,” as indicated by the “revealed will of the Almighty Creator.” This is something I never hear Rick McLaren telling his followers; nor does he mention those passages that refer to the Native Ameri cans as “ruthless savages,” nor Mexicans as “bandittos”[sic]. . It is clear that however valid their unhappinesses are with the America of the late 1990s, the citizens of the Republic of Texas black, brown, yellow, and maybe even whitedo not systematically read the holy historical texts that comprise their faith. Perhaps their failure to notice the perfidy of a Confederacy document is not the worst of it. Perhaps worse is that they have altered one of the most existential aspects of their rational beingstheir signaturesby now writing them with a comma, yet without having the vaguest idea why. David Blackmon told me it’s because he was taught to do so in public school. I said that was absurd: I went to Texas public schools too and I never learned anything like that. But everyone else around the Christmas table insisted that they, too, learned the comma in state of Texas classrooms. And this after most had spent a good deal of time complaining to me about the years of lies they’d been taught by their teachers. Between the commas and the lawsuits and the guns, I worry about the good citizens of the Republic of Texas. I think their desire for happiness and peace and freedom is as heartfelt as mine is, and yours. I wish I knew how we could all get in this thing together. Downsize This! author Michael Moore has been writing in the pages of The Nation and in this magazine that the first thing we should dowe people who see our solutions on the left rather than the rightis listen to C&W music and go see Star Trek so we can know how “regular” people think. Mike’s even started his own militia: a shtick, but at least it lets us consider the real thing with a bit less knee-jerk moralism and “those-people-are-just-crazy-racist-fascists” dismissal. I say go to the movies and listen to AM radio. In addition, read Wilhelm Reich’s The Mass Psychology of Fascism, where he talks about how in the early 1930s in Germany, the Communist Party and the Fascists shared a virtual revolving door as workers spent three weeks in one group, three weeks in the other, then back again until Fascism eventually won the upper handin part because the left ceded discussion about freedom and happiness to the right. Read that, then let’s get interactive. re you out there, Ronnie, Molly, and the rest of the readers? Tune into the internet, e-mail real rightwing populists, call them, go to their meetings and invite them to yours. Get to know what we have in common at least to where you’ll start getting as pissed about Waco as you were when the Chicago cops and the FBI slaughtered the Panthers. If we could all get to that point, we might have some grounds for further discussion with the other side. We’d also make it harder for the state to pull another Waco or Ruby Ridge out in Fort Davis. I was thinking about all this while White Eagle prepared to bless the morsels on the paper plate. “Be sure Spirit gets some pie,” Ambassador McLaren laughed, and White Eagle assured the assembly that Spirit needs something of everything. He chanted a prayer in Cherokee, then gravely dumped the plate to the wind outside the embassy. The Republic of Texas lined up for their buffet Christmas meal. I wondered where they’d be next holiday season, and where we would. Debbie Nathan spent New Year’s Eve .at home in El Paso. GET TO KNOW WHAT WE HAVE IN COMMON AT LEAST TO WHERE YOU’LL START GETTING AS PISSED ABOUT WACO AS YOU WERE WHEN THE CHICAGO COPS AND THE FBI SLAUGHTERED THE PANTHERS. JANUARY 17, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13