Governor Says Religious Discrimination Is Un-Texan. Someone Tell Sid Miller.

Sid Miller is one of the Observer's favorite public officials. As Eric Nicholson said in February, he's "the Platonic ideal of what the Texas agriculture commissioner should be. One glance at his official campaign portrait, which looks like it might have been taken at the Stephenville Walmart but which actually bears a Lifetouch watermark, should be proof enough. Miller is the spitting image of J.R. Ewing, if J.R. Ewing ate more hamburgers. He even wears a Texas flag lapel-pin!"

For the most part, his crusades — against the likes of those who would keep cupcakes or fried foods out of school cafeterias or change the federal food pyramid — are an amusing diversion from the regularly terrifying policies of his compatriots in statewide government in Austin. The thought of Miller taking the same political path as Rick Perry and winding up as governor, improbable as it is, is funny, much in the same way as imagining any of your rosy-cheeked, sweet tea-swilling relatives being given real political power is funny. 

Over the weekend though, Miller — or more accurately a member of Miller's staff — got a little bit carried away with Miller's campaign Facebook account, sharing this image from something called The Patriots IV Drip:  Basically, the Miller campaign Facebook page, until it deleted the post, was endorsing the annihilation of the Muslim world by nuclear weapon — or at least part of the Muslim world. A couple of cities maybe.

Texas Democrats called on Miller to apologize.

"It would be laughable if it wasn't so frightening that these guys are in charge of state government. Texas families deserve far more than living in fear of a state embarrassment every time a Republican official opens their mouth or gets indicted," Texas Democratic Party Deputy Executive Director Manny Garcia said in a statement. "We hope Sid Miller shows some respect for Texans and the responsibility of holding state office and issues an apology. Further, we hope Texas Republican Chairman Tom Mechler joins us and denounces this hate speech."

Miller is currently on a trade mission to China, of all things, and did not share the photo himself. One might expect that the culprit behind the inopportune research would be halfway out the door at this point. But this is Texas in 2015, so the Miller operation's neither trying to find out who posted the photo nor intending to apologize.

“We’re not going to apologize for the posts that show up on our Facebook page,” Miller spokesman Todd Smith told the Texas Tribune. "I don’t know who did it, but I’m not going to start a witch hunt to find out who did.”

Smith tells the Trib that about 18 people have access to the account and that he finds the image "thought provoking."

“I read the post this morning, and we’re at the 60th anniversary of dropping the atom bomb in order to destroy an insidious enemy that was intent on destroying American lives, and we face a similar enemy who has vowed to destroy American lives, and I think that’s the topic that the American people are focused on," Smith said. 

In a separate matter, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, responding Monday to weekend vandalism at a San Antonio synagogue, proclaimed the need for religious tolerance in Texas.

"Religious discrimination has no place in the state of Texas and I have faith that law enforcement spearheading this investigation will redouble their efforts to swiftly bring those responsible to justice," he said.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young