Anthony Bourdain is a person I have greatly admired, particularly as he found himself exploring the roughest terrain in America – of life lived by true Texan cowboy families.
“In the roughest terrain, you have a weak heart, you won’t last,” Anthony said, on a replay of one of his early broadcasts on CNN. “Surrounded by high mountains, populated by crowded high trees, with curling gravel roads at ground level require you to go 40 miles to get a loaf of bread or a pack of cigarettes. Folks here travel mostly by horses. There was nothin’ but nothin’ between small towns,” he said. Yet the family he was with, “engaged in hard laughter and LOVED IT! They wouldn’t live anywhere else. One family owned a saloon — a good one. Loyalty was big in this Texas where you have to depend on one another. Ranchers needed lots of guns cause you were considered an invader of Mexico in the old days. Mexicans say all their fathers, grandfathers were all here. In fact you can see the evidence of their carvings on the rocks. They were in tune with their times.”
“Diverse folks live in Texas — cross over wherever the borders are from Mexico. Many live across the street from one another.” Looking at us, Anthony says, “One side is USA, the other is Mexico. This appears to be comfortable for most. It was the most amazingly magnificent and rugged terrain I’ve yet seen. Going outside at night to watch the stars — at where they live — deeply appreciated by those who live in this amazing state.”
But this was before the El Paso crisis — surprising all its approximately three thousand persons at the Walmart and its adjacent mall on a sales tax holiday that suddenly erupted with multiple gun shots, killing 20, leaving 46 wounded. An open-carry state, many carried their weapons legally. It had been a beautiful American city prior to this day on August 3, 2019.
A racist, anti-immigrant manifesto was found near the Walmart Shop, believed written and posted by the shooter, a 21-year old man who surrendered to police. He drove more than 9 hours to reach El Paso, suggesting the hatred that drove him. Another 19-year-old man who promoted white supremacy, fatally shot three people, injuring 12 others, at Gilroy Garlic Festival a week earlier. He had urged Instagram followers to read “Might Is Right”, a novel admired by white supremacists. He had legally purchased his gun in Nevada three weeks earlier, making this the 240th shooting of the year!
Local leaders insisted we must call it what it is: a hate problem of non-whites. The manifesto listed earlier encouraged white folks to take over the country — particularly western European whites.
A day later, the single largest ICE Raid in history left nearly 700 undocumented people detained after officials raided seven food processing plants in Mississippi. Hundreds of families were separated from their children. Three hundred detained were later released but the schools and other city officials had no prior warning of the raid, leaving many feeling highly emotional. Leaders were saying “We’re losing our way! This is not who we are! The timing of these raids is questionable!” Our president, who has difficulty rising to such occasions, was being urged to stop using words like: predator, killers, animals, invasions; words he uses to rile his base but turns off other citizens as well as immigrants.
It is hard to keep up with the increasing threats to what used to be a reasonably predictable country. As for me, It is the beauty and awesomeness of Bourdain’s Texas I choose to remember.