Big Tex Is a Proud Pakistani-American Texan. In Fact I Can Tell You Which One He Is.

I can't believe people are saying the new Big Tex is Mexican. I would be fine with that. But it's so obviously not the case. The new Big Tex is a Muslim Pakistani. How can people not see that?

The face of the new giant Big Tex statue, erected this year to replace the one that got its head burned off last year, clearly was based on the likeness of Arjumand Hashmi, the mayor of Paris, Texas. Just look. It's so obvious. And they couldn't have picked a better representative of New Texas.

Hashmi is the muscle-tee-wearing, two-phone-toting, Lamborghini-driving, Pakistan-born heart doctor elected mayor of a supremely good-old-boy town in North Texas in 2011, proving the maxim that, if Paris can elect a Muslim, anybody can elect a Muslim.

He has earned growing support among young voters, recent arrivals and everybody else who's on short-end of the good-old-boy stick. He did it by opening up City Hall to greater citizen access and more transparent contracting procedures. In a place where the old guard often views newcomers as an unwanted competition, Hashmi has pushed the use of tax abatements to pump even more new blood into the city's heart. Plus, he led a campaign to plant hundreds of crape myrtle trees. How can you not like guy who likes crape myrtles?

Some people say the new Big Tex has a worried look. But I see the truth. It's not a worried look. It's Dr. Hashmi, wondering, "Where can I plant some more crape myrtles?" Now you see it, right?

Just tell me: What has the story of Texas been over the last 25 years? It's all about immigration. The current debate on illegal immigration tends to mask what may be the more important phenomenon of legal immigration. According to the department of Homeland Security, Texas ranked fourth in 2012 among the 50 states for the number of foreign-born who achieved legal status here as residents.

Of the 95,557 foreign-born persons who achieved legal residency here last year, only 1,877, or about 2 percent, were from Pakistan. But I would argue that if a place like Paris can elect a Pakistani as its mayor, then people from Pakistan have a bright future in the Lone Star State.

Yes, I did leap to some of the wrong conclusions when they first unveiled the new Big Tex. I did think at first glance he was gay. I am now ashamed of myself for dealing in such obvious and ignorant stereotypes. And, no, I swear it had nothing to do with the boots. Lots of straight cowboys wear boots up to their knees as a protection from rattlesnakes.

Let me say this about that. Big Tex may not be gay now, at this point in time, but he will be gay someday. He needs to be gay for a while, because cowboys and Texans are gay, just as they are not gay. Later on, Big Tex can go back to being straight, and I imagine at some point in the mid-22nd century it will be OK for him to go back to being an old white guy for a summer or two, if anybody can remember what they look like.

Crown Fountain in Grant Park in Chicago, by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, features an endless loop of gigantic faces digitally displayed on two 50-foot glass towers in a joyous celebration of Chicago's diverse citizenry. I hope that's what Big Tex will become over time -- an avatar and blank slate on which we will project the incredible human diversity of Texas.

Plus, think about it this way: if we could rig him up like Crown Plaza so that we would be able to change his face by computer whenever we felt like it, then we wouldn't have to burn him down each time like the obvious inside job it took last year to finally to get rid of the old white dude. Hey, look, I'm an old white dude. I'll go peaceably. I mean, compared with getting my head burned off?

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