If you’ve spent a goodly portion of life reporting/commiserating about politicians, you probably have some little hidden quirk about the species. I’ve got one. Mine is thoroughly enjoying the self-created angst as they stick a foot in a bear trap when what was called for was “mind your own damned business.”
If you watch a lot of Republicans recently – especially the subspecies of “born agains” – such enjoyable hoist-on-your-own petard moments are not hard to find. Especially in Texas.
That arrogant, too often mindless subspecies was on display from Austin to Chugwater regularly. There appears to be a sizeable cell of ‘em in Frisco, Texas. Frisco is a smallish burg of about 161,000 that stradles Collin and Denton counties, about 40 miles outside Dallas. It was the fastest growing city in the nation from 2000-2009.
Frisco, thanks to a high school principal with some smarts, is the site of my latest enjoyment of watching a completely off-base pol getting cut off at the mental pass. Actually, several pols.
Several years ago, teachers told Frisco’s Liberty High School Principal Scott Warstler Muslim students were missing several hours of class daily. Just getting up and walking out of classes a few minutes before noon and not getting back till after one. Warstler checked and ‘twas so.
What he found was the Muslim kids were going home or to mosque for midday prayers. In either case, they were traveling several miles going and coming. Warstler, ever resourceful, started thinking.
He remembered Room C112. It was a small, spare classroom that had been used for all sorts of other things for years. Teachers spent time there grading papers when they had a break. And Buddhist kids did their meditation in C112. Why not Muslims?
He did some checking. Kids were OK with that. So, C112 soon added another world religion and Muslim kids – and Catholics and Presbyterians and anybody with a faith claim – worked out a schedule with the Muslims and the Buddhists. Everybody happy!
Until a born again parent got wind of it and contacted the Texas Attorney Generals’ office. Not the principal. Not the school district. The ultra-right, GOP AG. And an overzealous deputy therein fired off a letter. He said “It appears the prayer room is dedicated to the needs of (only) some students.” He later admitted those “some students” were Muslim.
The Texas AG, already running for governor and anxious to slay a liberal, surefire vote-getting dragon, also sent out a news release to the media the same day the letter was written. He denounced the “prayer room for excluding other faiths.” “Texas Constitutional violation,” he publically opined. It wasn’t.
All this without any Texas AG legal eagle journeying from Austin to Frisco to check things out. “Fact finding,” as it were. Had a few hours been spent on the four-lane, he/she and the ultra-conservative “friends” would have known what the hell was going on. Not to be.
Oh, one more tidbit. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott – something of a loon himself – quickly responding to that same fringe group, firing off a very public tweet quoting his deputy’s letter and echoing the same Constitutional B.S. Again, no checking. I call it “Trump Tweeting.” Hang the subject – then have a trial.
Frisco School Supt. Jeremy Lyon did some research, then a little media work of his own. “The ‘press release’ appears to be a publicity stunt by the Attorney General to politicize a nonissue,” he wrote in HIS media update. “The Frisco District is greatly concerned this type of inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the District, students, staff and community in danger of unnecessary disruption.” Period.
The plain fact is Room C112 is open to all students of any religion – as it had been from the get-go – for any purpose whatsoever. Pray. Meditate. Study. Read a Bible or a Koran. Do a religious crossword. And the state “investigation” didn’t start until two weeks after a story about the success of the “prayer room” appeared in the school newspaper.
Frisco administration is still trying to figure out what the hell the AG’s office was all excited about, what real information it had (if any) and who the “concerned citizens” were (if any). A letter to the AG went unanswered. Well, imagine that.
Frisco District Spokesman Chris Moore says the district still doesn’t know what all the fuss was about. “We hadn’t been contacted by any right-wing groups, left-wing groups or in-between groups so getting the questions from the attorney general was surprising.”
Whatever. Moore says Room C112 will be open for prayers as usual come Monday. Just as it has been for years. Until that little school newspaper story about its success caused a hubbub.
Don’t you just love it when some publicity-hungry politicians get caught with their shorts in a lock? And their clay feet are exposed up to that hole in their chest where most of us have a heart?