Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hispanics and African-Americans “Remember the Alamo” Differently—at Least Some of Them Do

The Texas Nationalist Movement (T.N.M.), an organization which would like the United States’ second-largest state to secede, held its first annual Texas Independence Conference in the former Republic of Texas capital of Washington-on-the-Brazos over the November 3-4 weekend, just before the national (i.e., United States) election.  Recently, I reported in this blog that the T.N.M. was prepared to send out vigilantes to interfere with monitoring of Texas polling places by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (O.S.C.E.).  At this first conclave, however, things were more introspective.  Attendees heard, among other messages, that Texan separatists need to start appealing to non-whites.

An image from the T.N.M. website
Apostle Claver Kamau-Imani, a prominent African-American conservative from Houston, told the assembled that right-wing groups such as the T.N.M. need to start recruiting voters of color, explaining, “You wonder why the socialists keep pouring millions and millions of dollars into Texas even though they don’t win a lot of elections?  That’s because the demographics are changing.  Eventually they are going to turn Texas blue.  We’re going to have to recognize that we have ourselves a demographic crisis.  Here’s the good news: voters of color share our values.  ...  When it comes to taxation, border security, protecting the lives of the unborn, they agree with us on all those points” (they? us? Kamau-Imani’s pronouns are tipping his hand a bit here).  “They have nothing in common,” he went on, “with a liberal, a socialist, a communist, a fascist.”

Apostle Claver Kamau-Imani addresses Texas separatists
What Kamau-Imani fails to note is that there are some “values” that Americans of color tend not to share with his nearly all-white audience, such as the nostalgia for slavery and segregation that created and continues to energize Southern and Texan secessionism—and the thinly-veiled racism that drives right-wing extremists like the T.N.M. to brand Barack Obama, absurdly, a “communist” and a “fascist.”

Kamau-Imani, an evangelical Christian and founder of the political action committee (PAC), gained notoriety last year when, at a campaign rally for the dim-witted pizza mogul Herman Cain, he called the Democratic Party the party of the Ku Klux Klan.

Meanwhile, after Obama’s reelection on November 6th, the T.N.M.’s president, Daniel Miller, announced on his website, “This presidential election serves as a clear signal from the rest of the Union to Texas—we do not care for your right of local self-government and we do not share your values.”  The organization—based in Nederland, in southeastern Texas, between Port Arthur and Beaumont, and boasting a support base of a quarter-million (surely exaggerated)—continues to petition Texas’s legislature to consider secession. There is also a movement online to draft the action-film star Chuck Norris to be Texas’s first president (he was born in Oklahoma, but never mind).

After Sonny Bono and Arnold Schwarzenegger, nothing seems ridiculous anymore.
He has every right to argue and struggle for the America that he wants, but Kamau-Imani should not be surprised if Texas’s Latinos and African-Americans remember the Alamo a little differently from the intolerant, gun-happy vigilantes that make up the Texas Nationalist Movement.

[For those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  (That is shorter than the previous working title.)  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this special announcement for more information on the book.]

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