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TIME: 13:00 – 14:00 – Tuesday 15th May 2018
VENUE: The Henry Jackson Society,
Millbank Tower, 21-24 Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP
Author of God Save Texas
On the 15th of May the Henry Jackson Society was pleased to host the author of God Save Texas, Lawrence Wright, who shared with the audience his views about the politics and culture of the ‘Lone Star State’, pointing out the many misconceptions widely held. Mr. Wright opened the floor by reflecting upon his youth in Texas and the initial desire to leave and never come back, coupled with a somewhat shame concerning his roots. Having, however, been brought back to Texas on business, Mr. Wright found that the place and its culture felt very familiar to him and understood that for better or worse it was home.
Mr. Wright emphasized that for Texans there is a dissonance between who they are and who people think they are since Texas is renowned worldwide long with various stereotypes. Mr. Wright recalled that while horse-riding in Cairo, the locals would heartedly refer to him as ‘Texas’ and offered him the largest and wildest horse following the stereotype of Texans being cowboys.
According to Mr. Wright, there are three levels of the Texas myth. The first level is the primitive raw material, such as the barbeques, the boots, cowboys and rattlesnakes. The second level comes with the arrival of money. Money causes people to look onto other cultures and subsequently brings about traveling, learning new languages, museums or ballet lessons. This is coupled with a certain shame and embarrassment about your roots and in an attempt to transcend it, it leads to cultural homogenization. The third level Mr. Wright described is the return to your roots with an understanding and forgiveness, which can be observed in, for example, architecture through the use of locally available resources such as limestone.
Mr. Wright asserted that Texas has a history of being red to the core, with no Democrat elected to a state-wide office in more than twenty years. Demographically, however, Texas has become a majority minority state, while Houston has become the most ethnically diverse city in the US. Religion plays a very important role in Texas with social conservatism remaining the common trait of the population despite the ethnical diversity, where the south of Texas is predominantly Catholic Hispanics while the north is inhabited by Baptists. Mr. Wright emphasized that the decisions made in Texas today will be decisive for the future of America due to the state’s the demographic and economic growth. This in turn suggests that the state could turn blue should an appropriate candidate present themselves.
Mr. Wright concluded by reflecting upon whether the US is safer today. He asserted that on the one hand it is better equipped to fight terror with the intelligence organizations reform allowing for a more effective sharing of information and on the other hand it faces an increasing spread of Islamist ideology which is an obvious cause for concern for the country.