Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s columns appear with regularity in my old hometown papers The Decatur Daily and The Huntsville Times. They are often homespun and interesting. Regrettably, Ms. Johnson has broken that streak with the column I am required to anoint as The Most Egregious Strawman Construction Project of Recent Memory or alternately, The Worst Column I Have Ever Read.
Johnson begins the column “in the Free State of Texas” with a desolate scene. Loose trash blows about on cold, windy streets. (There’s no one to pick it up because the national trash removal service has been banished! Never mind that there is no national trash removal service. There would be one without awful states like Texas to stand in the way!) A self-satisfied man sits and burns books on the fire to keep warm. The books come from the town’s library. It sits nearby with windows broken on the first day of secession. There are fewer books to burn than might be expected as a citizen’s group has “swept the shelves” of “offensive literature” such as Twain, Steinbeck, and Shakespeare. (My dear sweet heaven, can I go on describing this ridiculous piece of writing to you? I must.)
Everyone has a concealed weapon. The parks are dangerous. No one can figure out who should empty trash or clean toilets (because local authorities could never handle something so difficult), so buildings are padlocked. The man burning books to stay warm wonders whether Alabama and Kansas have “broken loose.” Alabama was a state that could be counted upon “to be on the right side of history.” (Because anyone against collectivism must be in favor of slavery. A most subtle pen at work here. Behold.)
Even if a person had a television or radio (and this man does not), one would be unable to hear the now blocked “government-controlled airways.” Such possessions as televisions and radios, by the way, have been lost “to enthusiastic looters the state police couldn’t stop.” (Yes, in Texas as in every other state, the brave federal police maintain order. Oh, wait . . . Law enforcement is predominantly carried out by the states. Ms. Johnson is a victim of constitutional illiteracy. Don’t worry, Ms. Johnson, the disease is epidemic. You are very far from being alone. And take note, those looters are apparently unworried about all the private citizens packing the weapons that made everyone nervous in a previous paragraph.)
For the big Twilight Zone type finish, Johnson has the freedom-loving Texan toss another book on the fire for warmth. The cover reads Atlas Shrugged. DA DA DUMMMMMMM!!!
I am emphatically not in favor of secession, nor is any such thing likely to happen in America. It is no better an idea now than it was when some on the left floated the notion after the re-election of George W. Bush. What I find objectionable is first the broad-brush, ugly slander on the character of a great state and its people. Second, I cannot understand the vapidity of thought which would imagine that self-government is somehow impossible for a state of 25 million people accompanied by plentiful natural resources. As if the United States of America in its fullness (and current leftwardness) is the only possible way the collected peoples of the many states could ever be governed!!!
I could spend paragraphs patiently correcting the many foolish items of belief in the column, which was featured with a big graphic of Texas in The Huntsville Times. But all I really need to do is provide a comparison. There is one state which completely follows the liberal point of view in its policy prescriptions. That state is California. There is another state which goes the other way. That state is Texas. Guess which direction all the U-Hauls are running? And guess which one can’t get out of debt and has cities poised to declare bankruptcy left and right?
Check it out, Ms. Rheta Grimsley Johnson.