There’s this French magazine called Charlie Hebdo. You might remember them from when their offices were attacked by terrorists and we all had to pretend for a while that they weren’t awful. While no one is deserving of a terrorist attack, they were and are awful, and Houston is their latest target.
Their latest cover implies that Hurricane Harvey came on down and drowned a city of Nazis. That’s really cute from a country that less than half a year ago openly ran an actual avowed Nazi for the position of Prime Minister. I am not unaware that the election of Donald Trump has given America a season pass of sit-down-shut-up for the foreseeable future, but we’re still one-up over cheese-eating surrender monkeys that can’t quite seem to purge Nazi bullshit from their land despite having been invaded by actual Nazis.
Houston has a branding problem. There’s no arguing with that. Can you name the song that sums up our city’s heart? I can’t, and being a music reporter is nominally my original job. We’re a town without a keyword, endlessly beholden to the image of Texas as a haven for lunatics and bigots.
It gets exhausting. Houston is more than the sum of its state. Hell, Houston is more than the sum of many states. By 2050 our city will be more populous than the state of Missouri. Houston is big and wonderful and dynamic. Houston is stronger than Dallas, weirder than Austin, and better than San Antonio. Houston is gold, Pony Boy.
Harvey has been a lesson in how others view us. I’ve lost track of the liberals that wrote off this tragedy as the just desserts of a state that goes redder than a freshly-spanked ass. “What did you expect?” they ask, the wankers.
Texas is amazing. Truly, it’s amazing in a way most countries can’t even hope to be. Are there Nazi shitheads here? Yes, child, of course there are, and may they all step on the business end of a rake. But I’m not going to sit here and discount a proud city because a few ding dongs can’t be arsed to be lifted out of the 19th century. You want to say Houston has some Nazi assholes in it? I can’t say you’re wrong.
But Houston is not a city of bigots. It’s a city of poets and music makers and dreamers. It’s a city of singers and puppeteers and heroes. It’s where Texas goes to be the future. When some glorified chan board masquerading as a publication steps up and claims we’re a deadpool for Nazis, my blood boils. I think of the line “Travis answered with a shell and a rousing rebel yell.” I remember that the thing my state is most famous for is a giant FUCK YOU!
“Look at those bigots drown,” says Charlie Hebdo, to the largest city ever to elect an LGBTQIA mayor. Look at this Trump-ass tragedy! Look at the trailer park!
My mum lives in a trailer. My mum cleaned up dead homeless people after storms for three decades. My mum is more than the entire staff of Charlie Hebdo. You fuckers want to be cute? Okay. Let’s. Get. Cute.
This city has stood in the face of destruction. You’d think PARIS would get that, but, hey, no. Instead they’ve let South Park: The Newspaper take potshots. That’s fine. Frozen peaches for all.
Here are my final thoughts on the matter. You can let Texas be a joke all you want. You can wallow in the death and pain and separation and sorrow all you wish.
But these are people. We’re the most diverse city in the nation. Our official notifications go out in five languages. Houston is the world in microcosm. There’s a reason “Houston” was the first word spoken on the moon. We are, quite literally, the future.
And yet, some rag from France wants to edgelord their way into relevance by implying those who died in Harvey were Nazis scumbags? They want to paint Texas as a haven for Nazis?
“Travis answered with a shell, and a rousing rebel yell.”
We will not be a haven for the unkind. We will not be a bastion for the cruel. We will be Houston. We will be the city we dreamed of. We. Will. Be.