KAZ’S KORNER

For about the last year we have been hearing the term “fake news” with it pertaining to the national political scene and the manner in which some media outlets report on it. I never thought that term would ever hit home here in Orange, but lo and behold last week an article appeared in ESPN The Magazine that really fits that description to a tee. The author Joel Anderson titled his article “Favorite Son of a Troubled Town” and gives an overview of his research: “Seahawks safety Earl Thomas III is a deserving hero for Orange, Texas, his small hometown that has been plagued by natural disasters and racial conflict. But just how much can one man do to pull his community up with him?” I commented in my column last week that I bet he not only never visited Orange, but didn’t even know where it was on the map. Well, I was wrong. Anderson did indeed come to our city and was greeted by several local dignitaries including mayor Jimmy Sims, Lamar-Orange president Michael Shahan and Orange’s first black mayor Essie Bellfield. Between the three who gave Anderson a grand tour of the Lamar campus with all its new buildings, Orange’s state of the art theater, the museum with all its valuable art displays, Shangri-La and Chemical Row, Anderson chose to feature the Sons of the Confederate Veterans unfinished monument at the corner of Martin Luther King Drive and Interstate 10 access road. Anderson claimed that an online poll of more than 400 respondents supported the idea of the monument by 74 percent. There probably were four respondents who each voted 100 times on their computers. “It didn’t take long for local activists to mount opposition,” the article pointed out. I don’t believe the 90 or so percent who were appalled by the monument could qualify as political activists. “That’s a cloud hanging overhead,” Mayor Sims commented. “I don’t want it there.” Anderson went on to write, “Orange also has a bedeviling legacy and one of Texas’ most palpably inhospitable regions for black people, where Confederacy enthusiasts erected that monument to be seen from Interstate 10 and the 55,000 cars per day that pass by.” Although the partially-completed project has hit roadblocks, it had overwhelming support in a poll conducted by a local newspaper. “There’s still a fair amount of racial tension in the area, far more than I’ve seen in other parts of Texas,” commented Ginger Gummelt, social work professor at Lamar University in Beaumont. “In no way has it progressed like that in other parts of the country.” Anderson relates that football might be the thread holding the city all together. “It’s been an anchor when Orange was almost literally adrift, a distraction when the oil boom finally dried up in the 1980’s, an emblem to the outside world when there wasn’t much else to brag about. ‘And, of course, it is what connects Thomas to his town, to such a degree that it makes him a rarity, even among his NFL peers,” Anderson opined. The article does point out about Earl’s generosity of hosting his annual free summer football camp, his chartering two buses for townsfolk to attend West Orange-Stark’s three straight state championship games, his giveaways for Thanksgiving turkeys, bicycles and winter coats. I believe the author, Joel Anderson—who incidentally is black—has been on this vendetta about racial unrest in the South for quite some time and was looking for an outlet, which just happened to be Earl Thomas III and the City of Orange. He wouldn’t dare write anything about problems close to his home, like in Seattle or Portland, Oregon where there have been some nationwide demonstrations in the past for fear of getting his head bashed in. I believe the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back with me was when he brought up Vidor which was immortalized on a 1993 cover of Texas Monthly and the words “Texas’ most hate-filled town.” Then he quoted professor at the University of Texas of all places, “Orange has some of the tendencies of Vidor, just not as violent. They all have that KKK undertone.” Earl was interviewed by radio station KOGT and he said there was no way he was aware of the gist of Anderson’s feature article. And I’ve visited with several folks who did read the magazine article and I have tried desperately to find someone who liked Anderson’s opinion of our fair city. Guess what??? I’m still looking!!!

KWICKIES…The Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of a 39-38 shootout Sunday night against the Baltimore Ravens, have won eight straight since a 3-2 start, including 12 in a row in prime time. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 21-3 at home in prime time. Defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who is supposed to receive the Seattle Seahawks’ Man of the Year Award, was anything but that in Sunday’s 30-24 loss to Jacksonville when he bowled over the Jaguars’ center when the team was in a victory formation in the final minute of play. This instigated a melee in which he and teammate Quinton Jefferson were ejected form the game. As Jefferson was heading toward the locker room, fans began pouring beer on him and it took several security guards to keep him from climbing into the grandstands after them. Fort Bend Foster, the last team to beat the West Orange-Stark Mustangs three seasons ago, was knocked out of the state playoffs Friday night by undefeated Angleton 41-10. The Mustangs have won 39 straight games since that Foster setback. We got to watch two close games played in a snowstorm. On Saturday the annual Army-Navy game was won by the West Pointers 14-13 when Navy’s Bennett Moehring missed a 48-yard field goal as time expired. And on Sunday in the nation’s snow belt, Buffalo scored a touchdown in overtime victory over the Indianapolis Colts in a blinding snowstorm 13-7 to the delight of the shivering Bills’ fans. JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Texans have sunk to the bottom of the well after getting soundly whipped by the lowly (2-10) San Francisco 49ers 26-16 in NRG Stadium of all places. It’s true the Texans have a boatload of players either on injured reserve or concussion protocol, but there seems to be more to it than that.  Social media has had some rumblings of firing Head Coach Bill O’Brien, but he may not be the whole problem. The team has currently lost three in a row and six of the last seven games and has failed to score 20 points seven times this season. I guess we can use the old adage of the Brooklyn Dodgers–“Wait ‘til next year!!”