The long run got to Texas faster and more furiously than anyonernin the 1820’s probably expected.rnAnd today? There is some reverse symmetry. By the yearrn2030—the same time span that separates us from the Goldwater-rnJohnson presidential campaign—whites in Texas are projectedrnto become a racial minority. I repeat: a minority. Blacksrnand Hispanics added together will outnumber and, theoreticallyrnat least, outvote them. This is chiefly because of the strongrninflow of Mexicans, under way for more than two decades, coupledrnwith the high Mexican birthrate. Texas’ strong labor market,rncontrasted with their own country’s weak one, makes Texasrn(like California) attractive to them. The Texans want restaurantrnand hotel workers, maids, gardeners, common laborers ofrnall sorts. Well, here they are! They come with great ease, thernRio Grande border being notoriously porous. As with thernNorth Americans, 175 years ago, many of the newcomers arrivernlegally; many sneak in any way they can. In 1990, according tornthe Census Bureau, nearly a million Mexicans living in Texasrnwere born in Mexico. The figure is indisputably much largerrnnow. As to how many are here under color of law—Iquienrnsabes?rnThe cases—Texas in 1821 and 1997—are not entirely comparable.rnFor one thing, after almost 200 years of life lived togetherrnin a land of opportunity, Texas whites and Hispanics arernreasonably well acquainted with each other: certainly far betterrnacquainted than in the years leading up to San Jacinto. Culturalrndifferences persist, many of them powerfully. On the otherrnhand, no difference I know of makes the races want to duke itrnout—physically, culturally, whatever. The famous fight scenernin Giant—Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson) battles on behalf of arnhumble Mexican family about to be ejected from a greasyspoonrncafe—was barely credible 40 years ago. If it were filmedrntoday, allegedly concerning today’s Texas, Texas audiencesrnwould roll their collective eyeballs.rnIn the days of racial segregation, when Southern blacks andrnwhites attended different schools, Texas counted Mexicans asrnwhite. And how about this? The elected student council presidentrnof my junior high school in 1955, in a town where Mexicansrnwere few and far between, w a s . . . Moses Ramirez.rnSo is fear of foreigners passe, a nightmare from unenlightenedrntimes? That would be the wrong conclusion to draw fromrna study of eariy 19th-century Texas history. There are and alwaysrnhave been foreigners we’d damn sure better fear. Or if notrn”fear,” in the full, cold-sweaty, panic-stricken sense of thatrnemotive word, how about “watch with healthy skepticism”? Nornmarriage of Greek words expresses that sentiment with exactitude,rnbut English can serve as well, if more garrulously, in thisrncontext.rnTexas history gives us valuable pointers in the dynamics ofrnimmigration: how, for practical reasons, the established culturernholds open the door for an outside culture to enter; how thernoutside culture, once inside, establishes itself; how growingrnnumbers give to its voice timbre and depth and volume; howrnthe outside culture maintains over the miles, many or few, itsrndistinctive outlook; how that outlook, asserted strenuouslyrnenough, produces divisions and tensions that put the quest forrnpower at the center of life. We all know what happens, do wernnot, when humans fall to feuding over power.rnThe expulsion of Mexican authority from Texas, in 1836,rndoes not prefigure the expulsion of Anglo authority from Texasrnin 2036. But to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest (as thernBook of Common Prayer would have it) that history lesson isrnthe commonest of common sense. What lesson of life is plainerrnthan that those who live life are not all alike; that in the agernof political correctness, as in the age of imperialism, the world’srnpeoples differ from each other; that differences, unreconciled,rncan explode into conflict?rnWatch John Wayne and Richard Widmark in The Alamo.rnOn general principles I recommend the experience.rnLIBERAL ARTSrnCANT TRUST WHITEYrn”I never really trust the kind of white people who are always so anxious to hang around Negroes, or… whites whornlove having Negroes always hanging around them. I don’t know—this feeling may be a throwback to the yearsrnwhen I was hustling in Harlem and all of those red-faced, drunk whites in the afterhours clubs were always grabbingrnhold of some Negroes and talking about ‘I just want you to know you’re just as good as I am—’ And thenrnthey got back in their taxicabs and black limousines and went back downtown to the places where they lived andrnworked, where no blacks except servants had better get caught.”rn—from the Autobiography of Malcolm XrnJULY 1997/29rnrnrn