The Center Holds

Several of this month’s letters to the editor, responding to our September issue, fall into two categories: those from angry liberals and those from angry conservatives. The libs rabidly attack Gary Cartwright for refusing to canonize Austin’s own Vegan de Milo, shopping center owner Jeanne Daniels, whose commitment to the ethical treatment of creatures great and small does not extend to (a) small-business owners who might want to sell the occasional hamburger or leather belt or (b) customers inclined to purchase such things. As for the cons—well, let’s all agree that the talk of not just shooting Mexicans but shooting them dead is, you know, an extreme reaction to Pamela Colloff’s piece on the incarceration of rogue Border Patrol agents. (A few somebodies picked the wrong day to give up caffeine!)

There are only two things these valued Texas Monthly readers have in common, other than a stated intention to become former valued Texas Monthly readers. The first is their name-calling proclivities: Gary is “petty” and “mean-spirited,” while Pam is “out of her mind” and “a liar.” The second is their insistence, implied and explicit, that Gary’s and Pam’s stories are proof positive that the magazine is ideologically biased.

Forget, for the moment, the irony of liberals’ and conservatives’ insisting simultaneously that we’re against them. The fact is, none of this is new. We’ve been hearing that we favor one side or another ever since, I suspect, the very day in 1973 that our first issue hit the newsstands but certainly for the more than fifteen years I’ve worked here. I remember clearly, for instance, conservatives complaining, early in Ann Richards’s term as governor, that she could do no wrong in our hippie-dippy eyes. In the run-up to the 1994 election, it was the liberals’ turn to argue the exact opposite: We country-club Republicans, (mis)led by Paul Burka, were unfairly gunning for Ann. Then, for the

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