Reflections on the Book Revolution in Texas.
By CHRISTOPHER LANDRUM.
LET ME BEGIN by stating that my surnamed ancestor—that is, my quadruple-great grandfather—Julius Cicero Landrum (1837–1884, pictured above) came to Texas from Georgia shortly before 1860, is shown listed in the census for that year as a school teacher, and that to this day, many of his descendants, some of whom are a part of my close and extended family, are involved in education (strictly at the local level) for the state of Texas. Let me also add that I’ve been employed by my alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, since 2007, in a position concerning things archival rather than educational, but nonetheless retain a strong, personal interest in books, reading, writing, and education.
Yet, in order to detach myself from all emotions over education concerning my immediate geography, present circumstances have forced me to resort—not without unavoidable (though probably ostentatious) quotation—to write to a friendly ghost (rather than hiring a strange ghost writer) so that I might unemotionally convey to outsiders of our state the following survey of the present book situation:
To Oscar at Père Lachaise,
It is my pleasure to offer some reflections on Texas book affairs, though being a complete product of Texas public schools, as were my parents, as were theirs, that while I can write about my experiences and encounters with this recent book business, I can honestly claim no expertise. Being too young to lead, I can only follow.1 Let me instead provide the analysis of an amateur, and let me provide nothing more, for I am only willing to research that which is within my reach and without exertion.
While some claim to have read that they are burning books down in Texas, such exaggeration borders upon slander. Yes, it’s true that the story to the 1984 film Footloose is set in rural Texas, and it involves the clash of dancing teenagers and religious fanaticism (including that brief book burning scene). However, that flick was fiction, not documentary, for the town was named the nonexistent Bomont (rather than our actual Beaumont), and was loosely based on some story from Elmore City, Oklahoma. Still, it must be admitted that the recent sentence-by-sentence inspections of some books from some of our school libraries may mean–because the inspections occur under sunlight, accompanied by the use of magnifying glasses–some volumes run the risk of spontaneous combustion. But such incidents should be considered statistical outliers.2 The majority of books in Texas have yet to catch fire.
Were such incinerating displays to be realized, they would only further enflame the rhetoric of the rabble who operate and fund our state’s hyper-democratic3 school-districting structure to bonfire proportions. For churchman Jonathan Swift was surely right when he said, “There is a portion of enthusiasm assigned to every nation, which, if it hath not proper objects to work on, will burst out and set all into a flame,” to which one might add the aside from French poet Paul Valéry (1871–1945) that “books have the same enemies as man: fire, dampness, beasts, time, and their own contents.”4
All circumstances taken together, the Texas book revolution is not the most astonishing thing that has hitherto happened in the world,5 though its story goes like this: Three days before the Fourth of July, 2021, the state’s official history museum canceled, at the behest of both the Lieutenant Governor and Governor of the state, a book-signing event designed to promote a study titled Forget the Alamo,6 which, I suppose, would be like seeing a book being sold in East Belfast under the title Forget the Boyne, or perhaps one in Left Bank Paris called Forget the Bastille.
Since then, a cadre of statewide and locally elected officials have engaged in a kind of “epidemical fanaticism,”7by calling for book inspections in school library inventories to scrutinize the usage of certain words and topics such as “sex,” “gender,” “race,” and “ethnicity.”8
Now, of course, all school functions have always, at least for parents, had the potential to transform themselves into flashy, fleshy exhibitions of Donnybrook fisticuffs.9 The recent increase in probability of an outbreak of rage among parents, teachers, administrators and school librarians, although curiously not much among students themselves, however, makes for a boon to a certain breed of onlooking scavenger-gamblers who place wagers on the so-called influence of books. Everyone behaves as if such influence were a kind of influenza, as if books carried spreadable diseases, without hope of inoculation or natural resistance but only avoidance.10
Meanwhile, the near “violent and malignant zeal”11 of the social climate at these rallies has meant that every school board meeting is now, at the local level, an emotional powder-keg ready to go off at any moment.12
BEING ONLOOKERS RATHER than participants, these scavenger-gamblers are apt to make vicious jokes and crude remarks at the expense of the participants––participants who, no matter whether for or against this fever to finger through books in search of potential culturally cancerous polyps, all claim to be doing what they’re doing “for the kids.”13 For all sides, as a pretext, believe they have the best interests of children in mind. Certainly no one is claiming that they seek to promote what they themselves believe to be in the worst interests of children—such claims are reserved to fling at their opponents!14 But in this all fail to realize that resentment may bear fruit in either those who ridicule or those being ridiculed. For all those who ridicule doom themselves to reductionism.15
Therefore, no sober individual contemplating the recent book banning (or retaining) schemes in Texas should accept such pseudo-judgments from these scavengers as:
• “Let those Texans burn their books,” says one, “that will help keep them warm in winter when they lose their electricity.”16
• Those with a “good riddance” attitude, who say things like, “Thank God they’re getting rid of all those health books with those gross photos of genitalia swollen and inflamed by STDs.” A nearby renegade then asks, “Who gets to keep or buy the books that end up being banned? Is there an aftermarket for such books? Could I be their savior? Can I profit on the aftermarket of their salvation?”
• Standing by are cynics who say, “Those dumb Texas hicks; their kids don’t read anyway,” accompanied by counter-cynics who claim, “Obviously Texas politicians and the concerned parents who vote for them are wiser than any outsiders who might ridicule them,”17
to which the former then repulse, “When was the last time a Texan won the Nobel Prize for literature? They are but a handful of country clowns.”18
• Then come second-tier cynics who claim, “With or without certain books is immaterial when the kids are already institutionalized by their teachers, preachers, coaches, diets, advertisers and even their society’s architecture.19 At this point, books are but benign in the grand scheme of influence.”
• Then arrive pundits to say, “the last thing Texas politicians and parents are interested in is education. Those elected officials are just pulling a classic rope-a-dope bait-n-switch. They’re not really scrutinizing the books, just playing gotcha for keeps.”
• Other pundits observe: “Typical Texas protestant prudery always obligating outsiders to walk on eggshells while wearing kit gloves so no snowflake is ever smashed.” But some shoot back: “To prohibit is to provoke desire. The more books they ban, the more those books will be sold.”20 Still others say, “To censor is to submit to the path of least resistance, which is but the path of laziest resistance.”21
• “In the ‘50s and ‘60s,” says that same folklorist, “Texas culture introduced stripper Candy Barr23 to the rest of America. The ‘70s and ‘80s gave the world Debbie Does Dallas and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The ‘90s were endowed with the modeling and Texas oil-marrying successes of Anna Nicole Smith, while in the aughts, it was actress Alexis Texas who captured the hearts and minds and adult film industry’s awards for her various acrobatic feats. But nowadays kids (and adults like myself) can look up all these things on their phones without ever having to step foot inside a school library.”
• Some onlookers respond by saying, “A good majority of the Great Books of the Western Canon already contain lewd episodes and profane ideas. Take the castration in Hesiod and of Origen himself. Most of Apuleius and Laurence Sterne is bawdy (along with much of Jonathan Swift and Johann von Goethe). Milton’s satanic serpent licks the ground with delight wherever naked Eve and her pretty feet happen to tread.24 The examples are endless….” But that is rejected with: “Who cares? Not knowing the Great Books is a fairly harmless ignorance in Modernity. Reading old books won’t help modern minds pay their bills when the repo man and the eviction woman come a’knocking.”
• Finally then speak those who resort to simple allegory and unimaginative satire. They say things like, “Readers in Texas are perfectly capable of picking themselves up by their own bootstraps. They can buy whichever books they like and read them whenever they want. Just as a responsible driver is a defensive driver, so too is a responsible reader a defensive one. Let sleeping books lie in their library-cemeteries25 like they always have. Let us conserve that. ” Yet to that some will reply, “Removing bad books from public libraries is no different than taking a pair of tweezers to pull off some ticks from the ole farm dog. It’s just some heavy-duty grooming, whether for one’s canine or for the culture of one’s state. Censorship and hygiene go hand in hand….”
SUCH ARE THE scattered opinions from the scavenger-onlookers of the current Texas book saga. The above list almost makes a map of all their arguments (almost). But though their observations may contain some slight truths, because they are only spectators and not actual participants in banning (or retaining) books from school libraries, their opinions can convince only themselves.26 Actual participants know otherwise. For zealous idealists trying to either take out (or put back) particular books require something more potent than mere rhetoric: they require narrative. And though the two stories the two sides tell themselves appear to be competing with one another, there appears to be little overlap between them. Venn diagrams need not apply.
In the current case of Texas book fever, the most idealized narrative (or “social imaginary”) told by one set of zealot-participants among themselves is: “We are simply trying to prevent the abduction of our children from the Pied Piper and his seductive music (as found in certain books).27 We are simply trying—through school library book selection, inspection, and expulsion—to keep our kids from leaving the safety of Our Town.” On the other hand, the most idealized narrative told by the other set of zealot-participants among themselves is: “Some of our most vulnerable children have been left outside of town in the woods with the Wolves. The books in question are but maps necessary to helping those kids get back to the safety of Our Town before they get eaten up.”
So both camps begin with the premise, “We in Our Town are for (and not against) the safety of our children, and we shall purge (or provide) certain books as affirmation thereof.” But after that, their narratives fork like two roads diverging in a yellow wood. Each appears to veer toward a resolution indifferent to the other.28
For though some see the books in question as useful maps to give to children lost in the woods—and because a few zealots who fear the Piper seem to mistake the man for his music—one might reemphasize the old lesson that the map is not the same as the literal land it marks. A map, moreover, though useful, cannot prevent some from needing such a map in the first place, particularly those who never realized they might need a map, or knew that such helpful maps existed. Who’s not to say, meanwhile, that the Piper may only lead the children to a meadow where they might see and learn what the town looks like from outside its own walls, so that the children might come to appreciate (and appraise) how an outsider, whether friend or foe, approaches it?29
(Though certainly there should be no child left behind once it gets dark.)
THAT THEN IS the state of things regarding the current revolution of books in Texas. The iron anchor of my soul prevents my speculations from drifting too far toward what comes next. Teachers, librarians, and students throughout the state probably won’t quit en masse—only the last group would have any political leverage were it possible for them to act in concert.30 All three groups might slightly dissipate, but probably not with enough irreversible severity as to then require Reconstruction-style federal intervention. The cities of Texas will continue to grow, at least until they run out of water.31
Some current suburbs will become major cities themselves; however, most rural populations will continue to shrink, unless suburban sprawl ventures to assimilate the former into the latter. Nonetheless, these growing suburbs—because a substantial proportion of their populations will have been imported from various other states and nations—will continue to mark the most volatile political hotspots with regard to books and education. But who will have the most kids? and who among that legion will have the most influential parents? is beyond my ability to answer.
My endgame forecast sees only that the non-zealous, non-idealist majority who populate the neo-suburbs of Texas will either re-segregate (and therefore preserve), or authentically integrate (and therefore improve),32 their standards for procuring and prohibiting whichever books for whichever reasons from whichever libraries.33 The last people to have any sort of say on the matter will, of course, be the children of Texas themselves.34
Always in affectionate awe,
Christopher of Austin
CHRISTOPHER LANDRUM lives in Austin, Texas. His work has previously appeared in The Berlin Review of Books, and Real Clear News of Chicago. An archive of his work in The Fortnightly Review is here. He writes about what he reads at Bookbread.com.
- “You are young; you cannot guide, but must follow, the fortune of your country,” (Edmund Burke, Reflections of the Revolution in France (Reflections hereafter) in The Works of the Right Honourable Edmund Burke Vol. III, (London: John C. Nimmo, 1887), 562).
- As Nobel economist Daniel Kahneman has recently put it, “extreme outcomes are much more likely to be observed in small samples,” (Thinking, Fast and Slow (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011), 194).
- “Democracy appears most fully in households without a master, for in them all the members are equal; but it also prevails where the ruler of the house is weak, and everyone is allowed to do what he likes,” (Nicomachean Ethics, trans. H. Rackham, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1934), (VIII, x) p. 489).
- Swift, “An Argument to Prove that the Abolishing of Christianity in England May, as Things Now Stand, be Attended with some Inconveniences, and Perhaps Not Produce those Many Good Effects Proposed Thereby,” (1708), Major Works, eds. Angus Ross and David Wooley, (New York: Oxford UP, 1984; revised 2003) 224; Valéry, “Literature,” trans. William Geoffrey Shaman, Hudson Review, 2 (Winter 1950): 538–585 at 538.
- “All circumstances taken together, the French Revolution is the most astonishing that has hitherto happened in the world,” (Burke, Reflections, 243–44).
- Abby Livingston and Isabella Zou, “State museum canceled book event examining slavery’s role in Battle of the Alamo after Texas GOP leaders complained, authors say,” Texas Tribune, July 2, 2021.
- “Of all things, wisdom is the most terrified with epidemical fanaticism, because of all enemies it is that against which she is the least able to furnish any kind of resource,” (Burke, Reflections, 434–35).
- Brian Lopez, “Death threats and doxxing: The outcomes of mask mandate and critical race theory fights at a Texas school board,” Texas Tribune, December 15, 2021; Nadra Nittle, “Librarians are resisting censorship of children’s books by LGBTQ+ and Black authors,” 19th News, November 16, 2021; Cassandra Pollock, “Gov. Greg Abbott tells state agencies to develop standards to block books with ‘overtly sexual’ content in schools,” Texas Tribune, November 8, 2021; Ross Ramsey, “Analysis: A critical culture war hover how to teach history,” Texas Tribune, July 1, 2021; Ramsey, “Analysis: Some Texas lawmakers are worried about the wrong reading problem,” Texas Tribune, December 15, 2021; Mark R. Schneider, “The New Public School Orthodoxy,” The American Conservative, December 30, 2021; Allyson Waller and Kevin Reynolds, “The push to ban books in Texas schools spreads to public libraries,” Texas Tribune, December 20, 2021.
- One might recall Alexander Pope’s line in the Essay on Man (1734), “What reason weaves, by passion is undone,” (II, i). See: Andrew Atterbury and Juan Perez Jr., “Republicans eye new front in education wars: Making school board races partisan,” Politico.com, December 29, 2021; Nate Hochman, “The Graphic, Obscene Material Sparking a Parental Revolt in the Schools,” National Review, December 30, 2021; “Support or Oppose: Limiting the Use of Teaching Materials that Emphasize Racism in the History of the U.S. by Texas Public School Teachers,” Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, June 2021; Tad Bellamy-Walker, “Book bans in school are catching fire. Black authors say uproar isn’t about students,” NBC News, January 6, 2022; James Wesolek, “Republican Party of Texas Doubles Down on Local Elections,” Republican Party of Texas, December 6, 2021.
- Consider Goldsmith’s essay “On the Education of Youth”: “We want a treatise upon education, not to tell us anything new, but to explode the errors which have been introduced by the admirers of novelty. It is in this manner books become numerous; a desire of novelty produces a book, and other books are required to destroy this production.” (Poems, plays and essays, ed. John Aikin, (Boston: Phillips, Sampson, & Co., 1857), 402)
- From Burke: “A violent and malignant zeal, of a kind hitherto unknown in the world, had taken an entire possession of their minds, and rendered their whole conversation, which otherwise would have been pleasing and instructive, perfectly disgusting.” Compare the use of the word zeal in Swift’s maxim (in his Journal to Stella) that “violent zeal for truth hath an hundred to one odds to be either petulancy, ambition, or pride,” as well as some of the last words of King Charles I: “When some men’s consciences accuse them for sedition and faction, they stop its mouth with the name and noise of religion; when piety pleads for peace and patience, they cry out zeal.” In A Tale of a Tub (1704), Swift insists that “zeal … is, perhaps, the most significant word that hath been ever yet produced in any language,” (§VI). (Burke, Reflections, 379; Charles Stewart, (“[Last] Letter to the Prince of Wales,” The Letters, Speeches, and Proclamations of King Charles I, ed. Charles Petrie, (London: Cassell, 1935, 1974), 263–64; Swift, Major Works, 127, 185.)
- Rather than follow Swift’s advice in his Journal to Stella that: “Every man, as a member of the commonwealth, ought to be content with the possession of his own opinion in private, without perplexing his neighbour or disturbing the public,” most parents participating in the discussion of school books seems led by Pascal’s observations that “there are only two kinds of men: the righteous who think they are sinners and the sinners who think they are righteous,” which is why, “We have an incapacity for proving anything which no amount of dogmatism can overcome.” There are, for Pascal, but “two errors: 1. To take everything literally, 2. To take everything spiritually.” (Blaise Pascal, Pensées, (1670), trans. A. J. Krailsheimer (New York: Penguin, 1966, 1995); numbers in brackets follow Krailsheimer’s numbering, those in parentheses follow the P. Seller enumeration;  (534) p. 194;  (395) p. 119;  (648) p. 76; Swift, Major Works, 185).
- No one wants the kids to be lost, and such loss aversion is, for Kahneman, a form of conservatism: “Loss aversion is a powerful conservative force that favors minimal changes from the status quo in the lives of both institutions and individuals. This conservatism helps keep us stable in our neighborhood, our marriage, and our job; it is the gravitational force that holds our life together near the reference point…. The dilemma between intensely loss-averse moral attitudes and efficient risk management does not have a simple and compelling solution.” (Thinking, Fast and Slow, 305, 351)
- “These vices are the causes of those storms. Religion, morals, laws, prerogatives, privileges, liberties, rights of men, are the pretexts. The pretexts are always found in some specious appearance of a real good,” (Burke, Reflections, 419).
- “It is the talent of our age and nation,” writes Swift, “to turn things of the greatest importance into ridicule.” For C. S. Lewis, “Most people are obviously far more anxious to express their approval and disapproval of things than to describe them,” (Lewis, Studies in Words, (Cambridge UP, 1960), 7; Swift, “Vindication of Isaac Bickerstaff,” (1709) Major Works, 216).
- As the apprentice-adulterer tells the master-cuckold Gimple in Isaac Bashevis Singer’s classic tale: “Ignore it [the town’s babble and gossip about me and your wife] as you ignore the cold of last winter.” (Peter Aldhous, Stephanie M. Lee, and Zahra Hirji, “The Texas Winter Storm and Power Outages Killed Hundreds More People Than the State Says,” Buzzfeed, May 26, 2021; Erin Douglas, “Texas grid vulnerable to blackouts during severe winter weather, even with new preparations, ERCOT estimates show,” Texas Tribune, November 20, 2021; Singer, Gimpel the Fool, trans. Saul Bellow, A Treasury of Yiddish Stories, eds. Irving Howe and Eliezer Greenberg, (New York: Viking, 1954) §3, p. 409.)
- “Superior finery ever seems to confer superior breeding,” (Oliver Goldsmith, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), IX).
- “Were they, then, to be awed by the supereminent authority and awful dignity of a handful of country clowns, who have seats in that assembly, some of whom are said not to be able to read and write,” (Burke, Reflections, 288).
- As geographer Yi-Fu Tuan has put it: “Architectural space—even a simple hut surrounded by cleared ground—can define such sensations and render them vivid. Another influence is this: the built environment clarifies social roles and relations. People know better who they are and how they ought to behave when the arena is humanly designed rather than nature’s raw stage. Finally, architecture “teaches.” A planned city, a monument, or even a simple dwelling can be a symbol of the cosmos. In the absence of books and formal instruction, architecture is a key to comprehending reality.” (Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977, 2014), 102)
- Luke Winkie, “US conservative parents push for book bans – and unintentionally make reading cool again,” The Guardian, December 23, 2021.
- “Difficulty is good for man,” writes Burke, “Let it be remembered, too, that virtue is never tried but by some difficulty and some struggle,” (Reflections, 280, 297). Compare Walter Kaufmann: “Morality always consists in not yielding to impulses: moral codes are systems of injunctions against submission to various impulses, and positive moral commandments always enjoin a victory over animal instincts. Expediency, on the other hand, is no more than an important characteristic of some moral codes, conceivably of the best—but not, like self-overcoming, the very essence of morality itself…. To be moral is to overcome one’s impulse; if one does not have any impulses, one is not therefore moral.” (Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1950; Fourth Edition, 1974), 214, 224)
- Chris O’Connell, “The Legend of John Holmes Jenkins,” Texas Monthly, March 2020.
- Skip Hollandsworth, “Candy Barr,” Texas Monthly, September 2001.
- Paradise Lost, IX, 513–26.
- “In these books is wonderfully instilled and preserved the spirit of each warrior while he is alive; and after his death his soul transmigrates thither to inform them. This, at least, is the more common opinion; but I believe it is with libraries as with other cemeteries….” (Swift, Battle of the Books in Major Works, 4).
- As Swift puts it in the Preface to A Tale of a Tub: “It is with wits as with razors, which are never so apt to cut those that are employed on as when they have lost their edge. Besides, those whose teeth are too rotten to bite are best of all others qualified to revenge that defect with their breath.” Burke elaborates the point how too often critics make the perfect the enemy of the good:” Though it may seem paradoxical … those who are habitually employed in finding and displaying faults are unqualified for the work of reformation; because their minds are not only unfurnished with patterns of the fair and good, but by habit they come to take no delight in the contemplation of those things. By hating vices too much, they come to love men too little.” In a similar insight, King Charles, on the eve of his execution, keenly advised his son to “be confident (as I am) that the most of all sides, who have done amiss, have done so, not out of malice, but misinformation, or misapprehension of things,” (Burke, Reflections, 458; Charles Stewart, “[Last] Letter to the Prince of Wales,” Letters, 268; Swift, Major Works, 83–84; Swift’s line may be a nod to Shakespeare’s “The tongues of mocking wenches are as keen / as is the razor’s edge invisible….” Love’s Labour’s Lost, V, ii, 256–61).
- Such fear follows old custom. There is of course the legend of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” that dates from 1284 AD, but think also of Edmund Spenser’s warning from 1596: “These Irish Bardes are for the most part of another minde, and so farre from instructing yong men in morall discipline, that they themselves doe more deserve to bee sharpely disciplined; for they seldome use to choose unto themselves the doings of good men for the arguments of their poems, but whomsoever they finde to be most licentious of life, most bolde and lawlesse in his doings, most dangerous and desperate in all parts of disobedience and rebellious disposition, him they set up and glorifie in their rithmes, him they praise to the people, and to yong men make an example to follow. (A View of the State of Ireland (c. 1596, 1633), eds. Andrew Hadfield and Willy Maley, (Oxford: Blackwell’s, 1997), 75)
- Samuel D. Samson has recently summarized the central impasse nicely: “Certainly an incompatibility exists: on one hand, the right’s affinity for personal autonomy; on the other, a desire to limit and restrict for the sake of the good. It is this dichotomy which reveals the underlying state of affairs…. while the freedom of indifference shirks any notion of personal limitation, the freedom for excellence sees such order as the very vehicle for its achievement…. It is ultimately a pedagogical divide, one side favoring autonomy and choice, the other order and direction.” Here one might recall Georg Christoph Lichtenberg’s (1742–1799) “comparison of a preacher and a locksmith: The one says: ‘You should not want to steal’; the other says: ‘You should not be able to steal’.” Aristotle, though less vividly, says the same: “Those who have a thing value it differently from those who want to get it,” “For not to get what you want is almost the same as not to get anything at all.” More recently, Kahneman has noted how “freedom has a cost, which is borne by individuals who make bad choices, and by a society that feels obligated to help them. The decision of whether or not to protect individuals against their mistakes therefore presents a dilemma for behavioral economists.” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (IX, i) p. 523; (IX, i) p. 519; Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, 412; Lichtenberg, “Notebook K: 1793–1796,” Philosophical Writings, trans. Steven Tester, (New York: State University of New York Press, 2012), 157; Samson, “The Right’s War Over Freedom,” The American Conservative, December 30, 2021.)
- As Tuan puts it: “In the late Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, urban centers of political and ecclesiastical importance constructed magnificent front portals over walls that no longer served any military purpose. The monumentality of the portal symbolized the power of the ruler. It also functioned as an ideogram for the entire city, presenting a front that was meant to impress visitors and foreign potentates. (Space and Place, 42)
- Fernanda Figueroa, “Round Rock students petition for stronger COVID-19 rules, threaten walkout,” Austin American Statesman, January 16, 2022; Maria Méndez and Fernanda Figueroa, “Dozens of Round Rock ISD students walk out of class to demand more COVID-19 precautions,” Austin American Statesman, January 20, 2022; Brooke Park, “Texas students, frustrated by limited COVID-19 protocols, turn to petition drives and walkouts,” Texas Tribune, January 31, 2022.
- Erin Douglas, “San Antonio built a pipeline to rural Central Texas to increase its water supply. Now local landowners say their wells are running dry,” Texas Tribune, August 2, 2021; Spencer Grubbs, Shannon Halbrook, Jessica Donald, and Bruce Wright, “Texas Water: Planning for More,” Texas Office of Comptroller, April 2019.
- “A disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman. Everything else is vulgar in the conception, perilous in the execution,” (Burke, Reflections, 440).
- “Deliberative Excellence; this is correctness of deliberation as regards what is advantageous, arriving at the right conclusion on the right grounds at the right time,” (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (VI, ix) pp. 355–57).
- “Children,” writes Aristotle, “imagine that the things they themselves value are actually the best; it is not surprising therefore that, as children and grown men have different standards of value, so also should the worthless and the virtuous.” For Pascal: “if we are too young our judgement is impaired, just as it is if we are too old.” For Richard Steele: “The mind in infancy is, methinks, like the boy in embryo, and receives impressions so forcible, that they are as hard to be removed by reason, as any mark with which a child is born is to be taken away by any future application.”(Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (X, vi) pp. 613–15; Pascal, Pensées,  (381) pp. 5–6); Steele, The Tatler, No. 181, June 6, 1710.)