I was appalled to learn of texas monthly’s designation of Representative Lon Burnam as one of Texas’s Worst Legislators, in part due to his purported ineffectiveness on behalf of the environment [“The Best and Worst Legislators,” July 2007]. The Texas Legislature has no greater advocate for the environment than Lon Burnam. At a time when scientists are telling us we have ten to fifteen years to reduce global warming pollution in order to avoid catastrophic changes to the climate, Burnam is not spending his time rearranging chairs on the Titanic. He is using a bullhorn to alert the public so we can get a new captain and crew that will steer our ship to safety. He deserves the praise of Texas, not your shortsighted scorn.
The Good Fight
Kudos to Eva Rowe for her persistent fight against BP [“Eva vs. Goliath,” July 2007]! At such a young age to have known to do the right thing and not just settle and walk away is something to be very proud of and says much about her parents. I am sure that it was physically and emotionally draining to continue, but I believe that when people stand up for what is right, they always come out on top.
Granite, You Have a Point
Like it or not, the University of Texas is part of the South, and the statues on the South Mall reflect the conflicted history of the former Confederate states [“Dunces of Confederacy,” July 2007]. In a way, the statues are a microcosm for the deep rifts all Southerners confront when they must compromise their love for their home with their shame for its history. UT and the state of Texas must be proud of their Southern heritage, especially when we see what changes time has brought upon the university’s intellectual environment and the city of Austin itself. Amid such a progressive and growing city, when I gazed at the statues every day, I felt an overwhelming pride, not for these Confederate heroes but for how much the South has truly grown in 150 years.
There are moments when doing the politically correct thing just isn’t correct. And trying to erase history is just one of them. History should not be forgotten or hidden away in shame. We should learn from it and protect it. It doesn’t always make us proud, but it makes us who we are.
After reading the anti-Southern diatribe by Professor Don Graham, I can imagine that as soon as he gets rid of all those statues, his next project will be a giant book burning. Wouldn’t he be more comfortable in Boston?
H. B. OWENS
Don Graham’s critique of my suggested replacements for UT’s South Mall statues revealed a misunderstanding. In my Alcalde column, I proposed leaving George Washington and adding Oran Roberts and Stephen F. Austin because those three, to me, best symbolize the civic infrastructure on which the university was built: the founding of the United States, the state of Texas, and the university itself. (I chose Austin because he is known to history as the Father of Texas, not because of anything to do with the city of Austin.) That they themselves owned slaves, abided slavery, and supported secession, respectively, doesn’t change the fact that they played central roles in building that civic infrastructure. As I have tried to explain to the many people on the other side of the argument accusing me of wanting to purge the campus of “history,” it is these people, none of whom were progressives on the issue of slavery, along with Heman Sweatt, Harry Ransom, and Barbara Jordan, who better symbolize how we got here than Confederate leaders, honored primarily for being Confederate leaders and not to be confused with university leaders who happened to have Confederate pasts. A statue of George Littlefield himself would be much more fitting than the statues of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Albert Sidney Johnston, or Woodrow Wilson. Incidentally, I think Graham’s addition of Professor Américo Paredes is a good one. He would be relevant to the place. Most of the current lineup simply is not and never has been.
Thanks to Dan Flores’s exceptional article about the plight of Palo Duro Canyon [“Land That I Love,” July 2007]. If the state can’t fund this state park, among our others, why shouldn’t we fight for our federal tax dollars to come home? Public parks should be an integral part of our communities and should be high on the priority list among our public officials. Texas deserves nothing less.
VIRGINIA STOGNER MCDAVID
I was very dismayed to read Dan Flores describe our wonderful and widely acclaimed musical Texas as “hokey.” Now in our forty-second season, we are the ninth-oldest outdoor drama in the U.S. and the tenth-largest in average attendance. The incredible beauty of our natural amphitheater, surrounded by the sights and sounds of Panhandle history, is truly awe inspiring. It is hard to describe this production in words—you must come see it.
JOHN R. SKAGGS
Texas Panhandle Heritage Foundation
Say It Ain’t So, Joe
I have enjoyed reading the monthly installments by Tonnyre Thomas Joe and am so very sorry to see her go [Reporter; Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch]. As a native South Texan, I found it fascinating, but what she imparted most to her readers was her love of the land and the ranching traditions. She did it in a way that even the most citified person couldn’t help but understand what a privilege it is to have this lifestyle.
God, Save the Texanist
You need to know that real Texans (or Texanists) do not damn our God [Reporter, The Texanist, July 2007]. Now, we may invite him in to sit a spell in our front room, quote him, praise him, pray to him, memorize his book, thank him, celebrate him on his special days, and ask him for things. Sometimes we even ignore him, get angry with him, underestimate him, underpay him, and then ask for more stuff. I would expect that a word warrior such as yourself would have such a vocabulary that you wouldn’t need to use the “G.D.” word.