Connecting the Dots (again) Between Historical Racism and Current Climate Denial

July 6, 2021

One more example of why readers here are going to better understand the big picture.

I’ve interviewed Chris Tomlinson twice about developments in the energy industry – he’s a reporter for the Houston Chronicle, and it’s been his be at it for a long time.

He’s also a fifth generation Texan, and a student of Texas history, having written the book that has caused a minor media storm, – he tells me below about the Texan DNA, and the likelihood of any near-term Republican epiphany on climate. Along the way, he casually predicts the catastrophic Canadian heat wave we just observed.

Another example, also, of the tight connection between attitudes of climate denial, and racism.

5 Responses to “Connecting the Dots (again) Between Historical Racism and Current Climate Denial”

  1. jimbills Says:

    It’s difficult for people to hold several competing views at once. For instance, was the United States formed from slavery? It was, and it wasn’t. There were those in the colonies whose main motivation would have been to continue a slave system independent of England, and those that had other primary motivations. The same is largely true of Texas (although with a likely higher percentage of pro-slavery supporters at the time).

    I have studied Texas history from an individual position and have done so much more intensively than many. I didn’t grow up in Texas or go to public schools here, but I can also claim to be a fifth generation Texan, as my dad did, plus three generations before him, and I’ve lived in Texas for over 25 years now. The real history of the state is like any other place – it’s a hodge-podge of multiple different interests, many with base motives covered in the packaging of rationalization.

    Slavery definitely was one of the major motivations, but it shouldn’t be taken as the sole motivator. It was also about taxation without representation, religious freedom, fear of a repressive central government, and other political concepts that would have carried a heavy weight at the time. The people living there then were the grandchildren of those that had fought in the U.S. Revolution. Many would have been anxious to prove that they had similar inclinations. The Texas Revolution was also sort of foisted on many inhabitants. A handful of extremist agitators (Travis was one) caused the Santa Anna government to over react with a militant crackdown, and as they promised executions of Texans before even leaving Mexico, many in Texas that initially supported remaining in the Mexican government started siding with the agitators. The Tejano supporters of the Texas Revolution were one such group. A large number of those that fought in the final battle at San Jacinto were U.S. mercenaries promised free land and the chance as young men to prove themselves in battle.

    On racism itself, the early Anglo Texans were highly racist towards the Mexicans (as the Mexicans were towards the Anglos). This was a main motivator of the conflict as well, it became far worse as more U.S. residents moved into Texas, and it played out in the shameful ways the Tejanos were treated after the Texans won.

    Slavery existed in Texas before the Revolution, despite it being outlawed by the Mexican government. There are estimated to have been about 5,000 slaves in Texas in 1836, with about 30,000 Anglos at the time. The slave total jumped to about 180,000 by the time of the U.S. Civil War, less than thirty years, as Texas became a heavy cotton producer after it was mostly ranches and small farmholds in 1836 – and that carries obvious conclusions.

    Should one be proud of Texas? Why not? Why be proud of being from anywhere? Every country or region has its history of genocide, racism, and oppression. Is it right to be forever crippled by the sins of the past? It could justifiably be claimed that Texas is in a better place now than if it had remained as a Mexican state. But it’s wrong to be willfully ignorant of the less attractive motivations of our ancestors, and it’s foolish to pretend we in the present have only pure ones.

    • J4Zonian Says:

      We have less-than-pure motives now–waaaay less-than-pure–mostly because of the generational trauma complex passed on by those who abused people of their own times, and by those who were abused. Whether you think post-traumatic slave syndrome deserves its own name and category, for example, the effects were and are real.

      If we were paying attention, we would get a serious case of the willies every time Republicans starting talking about freedom, because it means there’s about a 99% chance they’re about to reduce someone else’s. And while we can never be sure about other’s motives and have to watch our own biases, there’s also about a 99% chance those rich, land-holding, slave-owning white oligarchs of 1836 did what they did for other reasons–the same kind of narcissistic psychopathic dominance, unconsciousness, projections, racism, misogyny, etc. that motivates today’s Republicans.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        If we were paying attention, we would get a serious case of the willies every time Republicans starting talking about freedom, because it means there’s about a 99% chance they’re about to reduce someone else’s.

        OK, now that’s a keeper.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Why be proud of being from anywhere?

      I understand why this is, but the response to something wrongly thought shameful is often to declare pride* in it. Being proud of something you have no control over (birthplace, sexuality, blood type) is just as illogical as being ashamed of it.

      That said, Pride parades can be super fun.

      *Of course, what people should be proud of is the ability to stand up against tradition, disinformation and bullies.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    The Revolution was only made possible when the southern slaveowners reached an accommodation with the Yankees and joined the effort. That accommodation was that slavery would be preserved—-England had already outlawed it and the southern oligarchs were afraid they would soon do so in the colonies. It took 85 more years and a civil war to BEGIN the process of freeing the blacks, and it’s nowhere near finished today

    Read Slave Nation: How Slavery United the Colonies and Sparked the American Revolution Paperback, 2006, by Alfred Blumrosen for a well done analysis .

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