Monday, June 13, 2005

Observations upon returning to Texas, part I

Maybe it's that I am spending a lot of time in East Texas these days (a region notoriously more connected to the Old South than the more metropolitan areas of the state), but I've noticed something disturbing: the increased display of Confederate flags and symbols.

Growing up in suburban Dallas, it was rare to see a Confederate flag; such displays were generally seen as "redneck" or backwards. See this post, for example. Texans, for what it was worth, seemed to value icons of Texas heritage - Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, cowboys, etc - over those traditionally associated with the Confederacy. Lately, however, I've noticed more and more cars - okay, usually they are trucks - proudly displaying rebel flags. While I don't think Texans are identifying with their state any less - if anything signs of Texas pride have only become more commonplace - I'm left wondering if some of the values traditionally associated with the Confederate flag (i.e. racism) are enjoying a comeback in our post 9-11 environment.

Then again, I could be just another city slicker. Buying groceries last week with Infission at a grocery store in Marshall, Texas, we came across a young lady in the dog food aisle. I asked Infission (outloud, hoping to gain the young woman's opinion on the subject) which dog food would work best to stink up the waters off of our dock, hopefully attracting catfish (a trick of the trade). It was at this point that I noticed the young lady wearing a hat displaying a small Confederate flag.

The young woman, obviously perplexed, looked at me and said, "You're not from around here, are you?"

"Nah," I said, "I'm from Dallas."

"Oh, that explains it," she replied, giggling at my expense.

Quick to our aid, "local" boy Infission was quick to add, "But I'm from Texarkana."

"Well that's better," she said. "Try Catfish Charlie. It ain't dog food, but it works everytime."

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