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Texans for Sanity: State Legislators Slam Perry for Neo-Confederate Racist Codespeak

Rodney Ellis and Jim Dunnam

Rodney Ellis and Jim Dunnam

During the ramp-up of the lavishly-promoted corporate astroturf teabagging stunt put on by Fox News and its friends, Texas governor Rick Perry dusted off a few of George Wallace’s more infamous bits of segregationist phrasings and unleashed them as part of his effort to keep the crazy-base part of the Texas Republican Party from deserting him for Kay Bailey Hutchison. And yesterday, he upped the ante, openly praising the idea of Texas’ seceding from the rest of America.

Now, things can be a mite crazy in Texas — the motto of its capital city, after all, is "Keep Austin Weird" — but there’s crazy and then there’s downright stupidly dangerous. And when somebody like Governor Goodhair veers off into catering to the worst instincts and fantasies of the worst persons in possession of voter registration, even tolerant Texans will step forward to call him on it. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Texas state senator Rodney Ellis:

“It was only 12 years ago that Texas had a deadly stand-off with those urging secession. Governor Bush stood up to those fringe elements. I urge Governor Perry to ramp down the rhetoric and state unequivocally — as Governor Bush did in the 1990s — that secession is not only not an option, it isn’t going to be part of the political discussion.

“In the last week, we’ve seen an extremely troubling escalation of rhetoric. Talking about state’s rights, the oppressive hand of the federal government and secession brings up some pretty bad memories in this state. It was not all that long ago that those were the exact words used by those who opposed desegregation and the civil rights movement. The top elected official in the second largest state with our history simply cannot be so loose with his comments. He’s not a radio or cable TV talk show host."

Ellis isn’t the only prominent Texan outraged by Perry’s playing to the knuckledraggers and playing with fire. State house Democratic leader Jim Dunnam, whose district represents Waco, had some words for the governor as well:

Every Texas elected official takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. I take oaths seriously, and that one most of all. And every day during the legislative session we pledge "allegiance" to the flag of the United States.

We even require every public school child to recite the pledge — every day. That is "one nation, under God, indivisible."

"Indivisible."

Yesterday, our Governor had the opportunity to disavow anti-American rhetoric of secession. He chose not to, and instead he chose affirm those who believe and actually contemplate that our nation is divisible.

What do I say to my youngest daughter when she asks "why do I recite the pledge every day at school, if our Governor doesn’t believe it?"

Hopefully Gov. Perry simply made a mistake; a mistake I call on him to correct by unequivocally declaring that our nation is one and indivisible, and that talk of secession from the union is thoughtless and reckless.

Perhaps he did not understand that words are important and that talk of secession carries heavy meaning.

Some hear this talk and associate it with racial division – an issue that caused over 600,000 Americans to lose their lives in a Civil War.

Others are incited by this kind of reckless rhetoric. I believe that the role of Texas Governor is to lead us to a better place, not stoke the fires of divisions.

Talk of secession is an attack on our country. It is the ultimate anti-American statement. Serious discussion that we would even contemplate dividing our country, the greatest country in the world, shows lack of judgment — and any words from the Texas Governor will be taken seriously. Finally, such statements — particularly in a time when we are at war overseas, with over 4,000 American lives lost, and thousands in combat as we speak — are both offensive, irresponsible and not the words of a patriot.

I am surprised that Governor Perry would reinforce a sentiment that is so clearly anti-American. He should choose his words more carefully unless they are intentional, and if his words were intentional, they should be condemned.

Messrs. Ellis and Dunnam show the way.

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