Slithering ever further down a timeworn slippery slope into fascism, Texas Republicans just took one small step for white supremacy by rejecting a resolution to ban members from consorting with anti-Semites, Nazi-sympathizers or plain ole Nazis in a state already crawling with them. Critics claimed the move—born of furor over a meeting between a big-wig GOP fundraiser and Hitler-fanboy Nick Fuentes—was “too vague” and akin to a “Marxist” decree, evidently in that it seeks to differentiate between “good” and “bad” guys.
The GOP reluctance to distance itself from neo-Nazi extremism is, of course, part of the nationwide lunge to the right of a party so devoid of principles, policies or goals—they already killed Roe—they’re left with only fear-mongering and hate. Let us (briefly) count the ways.
They are “led” by a vengeful, authoritarian criminal who poses “a direct existential threat” to democracy. Their ranks include Stephen Miller, a literal Nazi whose America First Legal is zealously working to sue out of existence any public or private efforts at diversity, even targeting NASCAR: “So instead of its drivers being 99.999% white, we need them to be 2,000% white?”
Across red states, Popular Information’s Judd Legum has chronicled their sordid efforts to ensure power remains in the hands of the white, straight, bigoted: In North Carolina, they’ve created a powerful Gov Ops “secret police” to target political enemies; in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, they’ve sought to impose a Christian, anti-sex, pro-slavery curriculum aimed at eliminating “ideology,” aka ugly historical truths, in schools.
Deep-dark-red Texas, a longtime, flourishing hotbed for right-wing extremism, is a logical place for the GOP to take on the devil’s work. The home base for the white nationalist Patriot Front, Texas boasts the largest number of Jan. 6 rioters and roughly 80% of the nation’s white supremacist propaganda, with racist and anti-Semitic flyers routinely infesting Dallas and north Texas; hundreds once made their way to windshields at Fort Worth’s pastoral Botanical Gardens.
In May, a neo-Nazi gunman killed 8 people—the victims came from Korea, India, Venezuela, Mexico—and wounded 7 at a shopping center in a diverse Dallas suburb; the Latino shooter bragged online that he’d decided to “take my chances with the white supremacists.” Most recently, in Forth Worth, burly neo-Nazis had to be escorted out of a gun show, and a group of swastika-wearing Nazis showily gathered in and sauntered through a Torchy’s Tacos, (even though they’re presumably made by brown people).
Last week, a report found anti-Semitic incidents in Texas have soared 89% since 2021; there’s also been six “terrorist plots” and 28 “extremist” rallies. And their governor is a stand-your-ground fascist goon who’s never met a worker, migrant, pregnant woman or left-wing protester he didn’t try to abuse.
Texas GOP “crackpots and ideologues” have likewise, predictably crawled rightward to join the Nazis looming on their fringe. In 2020, when Allen West became chairman, he pushed the party to adopt a new slogan: “We Are the Storm.” Though it weirdly, precisely echoes the slogan of QAnon, which argues Democrats are Satan-worshiping, child-eating drug-traffickers, West says his inspiration was a popular “anonymous” quote—”The devil whispers to the warrior slyly, can it withstand the coming storm? The warrior responds, ‘I am the storm,”—that’s evidently used by both Spanish fascists and/or ultra-runner Adharanand Finn, but it pretty much sounds like QAnon to us.
In June 2022, to burnish its far-right credentials, the Texas GOP also adopted a platform that described homosexuality as “an abnormal lifestyle choice,” argued Biden was not “legitimately elected,” urged Texas legislators to affirm the state’s right to secede, demanded Texas students be taught “life begins at fertilization,” and called for the repeal of the Voting Rights Act. It also started posting on the fringe white nationalist social network Gab, and tweeted its months-long support for the anti-Semitic unholy trinity of “Trump, West, Musk,” only taking down the post after Ye boldly came out as pro-Hitler.
This weekend’s vote to essentially follow Ye’s example was sparked by two recent events exposing a growing internecine squabble about just how far right the party should tilt. The first was the impeachment of scandal-beset A.G Ken Paxton, whose subsequent acquittal by the Texas Senate—shades of Orange Guy—”marked a screaming milestone in a (long) career that has seen Paxton harness the state’s increasingly conservative politics (to) stay in power longer than his vulnerabilities would suggest.”
Paxton is a key ally of Defend Texas Liberty, a powerful, oil-billionaire-funded PAC that bankrolls a vast network of far-right candidates, media outfits and initiatives that serves as the GOP’s puppet-master. Vexed their bestie Paxton had (almost) been held to account, they undertook a “scorched-earth campaign” against the party’s (likely Marxist) RINOS until a second, fraught, saying-the-quiet-part-out-loud incident in October when the Texas Tribune revealed Jonathan Strickland, a former pest-control-geek-turned-head of Defend Texas, had hosted white supremacist Nick Fuentes, who has urged a “holy war” against Jews and might be viewed as a fascist too far. The same day, Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi was also seen entering the same hotel, but he said he was seeing someone else so OK, yeah, sure.
Since then, both the GOP-controlled legislature and Defend Texas Liberty have sought to downplay their coziness with Fuentes and the extremist thugs he represents. Defend Texas Liberty issued a brief outraged statement trashing those who’ve tried to connect them to Fuentes’ “incendiary” views; they also may or may not have fired Stickland as president.
House Speaker Dade Phelan called on GOP colleagues to fork over some of the millions they get from Defend Texas Liberty to pro-Israel charities; then he was blasted for crassly politicizing anti-Semitism. A prominent Republican also at the scene of the Nazi crime that day dismissed all the fuss as (likely Marxist again) nonsense, blaming “hearsay,” “fuzzy photographs,” and “narratives.” Thus did the Texas GOP’s Executive Committee gather this weekend for their quarterly meeting in hopes of putting to rest the ugly rumor—and given the times, really, we’re kinda astonished it’s still deemed “ugly”—that they’re into Nazis. Their original plan, endorsed by about half the committee, was to call for severing ties with Defend Texas Liberty and its allies until Stickland was removed and a full explanation for the Fuentes fiasco was forthcoming; the move would have been part of a broader pro-Israel resolution.
But in our current pay-to-play politics—thanks Citizens United!—that proposal was quickly watered down to a resolution to bar any association with individuals or groups “known to espouse or tolerate anti-Semitism, pro-Nazi sympathies or Holocaust denial.” That doesn’t seem like too much to ask, so we were sure even the Texas GOP could manage to quit flat-out, holy-war-declaring Nazis.… But nope. Too much.
After a tense debate, the Committee voted it down 32-29; in an almost equally appalling move, almost half the board tried to prevent their vote from being recorded—almost like, if they had it in them, they were ashamed. Still, naysayers argued the words “tolerate” and “anti-Semitism” were “too vague” and “could create future problems” for lawmakers; others thought the phrasing of the ban could “create a slippery slope;” another said it felt akin to “Marxist” (again!) and “leftist” tactics, and would incite “guilt by association;” one said the Fuentes meeting was “a mistake” but there’s “no evidence” Stickland/Defend are anti-Semitic. “I’ve had meetings with transgenders, gays and lesbians—does that make me a transgender, gay or lesbian?” he said. “We don’t need to do our enemy’s work for them.” And no, we have no idea what any of this gibberish means.
Chairman Rinaldi abstained, but insisted that despite Nazi clowns regularly parading through north Texas and growing GOP links with them, with , the GOP’s all good: “I don’t see any anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi or Holocaust denial movement on the right that has any significant traction whatsoever.” A colleague argued “our position as a party” is that people who want to slaughter Jews are “not welcome” and “the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Texas” would agree, a ringing endorsement if we’ve ever heard one.
Still, some were distressed. Speaker Phelan called it “despicable” that members “can’t even bring themselves to denounce neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers or cut ties with their top donor who brought them to the dance,” and Morgan Cisneros Graham impugned the arguments of her name-calling, linguistically-challenged colleagues. “I just don’t understand how people who routinely refer to others as leftists, liberals, communists, socialists and RINOs don’t have the discernment to define what a Nazi is,” she said, which was a good point, especially for a Republican.
This whole don’t-pal-around-with-Nazis thing shouldn’t be so hard. Helpful hint: If they’re named Adolf, wearing a Swastika, calling people “vermin” or talking up Aryan victory, just friggin’ steer clear.
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