During the 87th Legislature, Texas Republicans reinstated Vagrancy Laws and provided us a window into their overarching goals.
According to the Texas State Historical Association, one of Texas’ Black Codes immediately following emancipation was a vagrancy law that stated: “A vagrancy law allowed local courts to arrest people whom they defined as idle, fine them, and contract their labor if they could not pay the fine.”
In 2021, during the 87th Legislature, Republicans passed HB 1925, which makes it illegal to be homeless in Texas. If a houseless person is found sleeping, living, or “camping” anywhere, except for private property, they are subject to a $500 fine or an arrest. Not only that, if they are arrested, police must store their belongings for a fee, returning them to the person only after payment is made.
This is a statewide bill. If a person in Texas falls on bad luck or is the victim of some unfortunate circumstances in Texas, this bill will turn them into criminals and worsen their situation. On top of that, HB 3034 will create a government database of houseless people. Government community service entities will share all of their data on these people with law enforcement. The point is to dissuade homeless people from seeking services in fear that there will be legal ramifications for their status as homeless.
This vagrancy law was initially passed in 1866 and was all struck down by the 1970s as unconstitutional. Yet, in 2022, here we are again. The language and intent of the 2021 bill are near identical to the original 1866 law. The bill passed along partisan lines and was signed into law by Abbott.
It’s only the tip of the iceberg.
This video is long (44 minutes), and the quality isn’t excellent, but I think it’s a crucial moment in regular sessions because it highlighted the GOP’s embrace of ignorance and hate.
This particular bill, HB3013, was centered around the remodeling of the Alamo and hiding the truth about the Texas Revolution. In this clip, Representative Kyle Biedermann boldly stated that slavery had nothing to do with the Texas Revolution.
While I realize that many Texans, including Kyle Biedermann, were taught Lost Cause Mythology in place of true history, I also feel that it’s been talked about and written about so much by now that we should know better. But, it’s unlikely that Biedermann ever read anything beyond InfoWars and the Bible.
To learn more about the cause of the Texas Revolution, see:
- History of the Revolution in Texas, Particularly of the War of 1835 & ’36; Together With the Latest Geographical, Topographical, and Statistical Accounts of the Country, From the Most Authentic Sources; circa 1868 by Chester Newell.
- How the Leaders of the Texas Revolution Fought to Preserve Slavery; 2020 by Texas Monthly.
About 17 minutes in, Representative Jarvis Johnson asked Biedermann about his secession bill, linking it to the GOP’s denial of history and if he wanted to reimplement slavery. Biedermann denied it and rolled his eyes as if what Johnson was saying was so far-fetched.
It can get worse.
Earlier this week, the Texas Tribune reported that Republican hopeful Don Huffine’s staffer had ties with white nationalism, but Huffines refused to fire him. Of course, he’s refusing to fire him because he shares his staffer’s beliefs.
Huffines is running a hateful and racist campaign and prides himself as a candidate who will win the culture war against gays and CRT.
All of Abbott’s Republican opponents are running on the premise that Abbott hasn’t been cruel enough, Abbott hasn’t been racist enough, and Abbott hasn’t hurt enough people.
But if you’re Black, Hispanic, a woman, a senior citizen, a child, or poor, you know that it isn’t true.
Abbott’s extremist policies have done more to hurt the people of this state than any other governor has before.
But suppose it truly only takes money to win an election. In that case, Abbott will beat all of his Republican opponents because after he allows businesses to hurt us, he takes million-dollar contributions from them.
The rise of white supremacy in Texas isn’t only coming from the Governor’s office.
Agricultural Commissioner Sid Miller has been outed for being racist more times than I can count; his latest appalling behavior is he was caught blocking federal aid to Black farmers, not white or Hispanic farmers, just Black farmers.
Some people may say that Texas has always been racist. Maybe it has, but also, perhaps the Republicans are getting bold.
The right is now pushing “school choice.” Which is a creative word for segregation.
This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has been following the drama around “critical race theory” this last year. The Republican’s anti-CRT movement is more than a dog whistle. It’s a train horn. Republicans in the 87th Legislature removed a classroom requirement to teach the KKK was morally wrong.
Living Blue in Texas has been covering the Critical Race Theory fight in Texas school boards across the Lone Star State. It started in Southlake and moved to Fort Worth, Cy-Fair, and cities and towns all over. For example, in Midlothian, the parent group behind the anti-CRT movement called themselves “Midlothian 1888,” a Nazi reference to Adolf Hitler, and brought 3%er with them to the school board meeting.
And this is what Greg Abbott has been campaigning on. Anti-CRT, a shout-out to the racists who vote in Texas.
Where is this leading us?
This last week, the Republican-led Texas State Board of Education just picked Stephen Balch to revise our social studies standards. Balch believes in white replacement theory and the big lie. What will our children’s social studies books look like after this nutjob gets his hands on them?
They’ll look a lot like early-era Lost Cause Mythology books. The Lost Cause is a false version of U.S. history developed in response to Reconstruction that minimizes slavery’s central role in the Civil War, promotes the Confederacy’s aim as a heroic one, glorifies the Ku Klux Klan, and portrays the white South as the victim. Much like the Republican’s plight against “CRT,” the Lost Cause whitewashed history for generations in the South.
Now, they’ve taken up book burning. Round Rock and Granbury are a few Texas towns recently in the news for book banning. And only months ago, a Black principal was fired in Colleyville for having a picture on his desk of him kissing his white wife on their wedding day. The Republicans claimed he was pushing CRT because of that picture.
But, we all could have seen this coming a mile away if we were paying attention to this last legislative session. Check out this video, where Representative Steve Toth refused to admit that white supremacy was wrong.
What other aspects are in play?
There’s a growing movement in Texas called #texit. The Texit movement was founded by a domestic terrorist named Richard McLaren in 1995. McLaren is currently doing a life sentence for kidnapping. Daniel Miller is the president of the Texas Nationalist Movement. The Texas Nationalist Movement is a Neo-Confederacy group whose core beliefs are founded on white supremacy.
But, who cares, right?
They’re just a fringe group who shouldn’t be taken seriously. Right? Except, last legislative session, six Republican House members were supporting them. They even held a meeting with Congressman Michael Burgess and the 3%ers in Denton last year. Now, Daniel Miller is running for Lt. Governor. But, of course, he won’t win. While there are 30 million people in Texas, Texit only has the support of maybe one hundred thousand. It’s not enough, not yet, but the longer the Republican Party stays in power in Texas, the bigger they’ll grow since they have an active campaign to infuriate County Republican Clubs.
All Republicans have to do to stay in power in Texas is to block as many people as they can from voting.
Republicans’ voter suppression efforts were also based on white supremacy. The evidence tells us otherwise no matter how many ways they swear the maps were drawn color blind.
Remember when Greg Abbott admitted in 2013 that Republicans knew redistricting disenfranchised Black people.
Of course, this year, Senator Joan Huffman also admitted that if preclearance under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were still applicable, the redistricting bills wouldn’t have passed. Why? Because they were drawn with racial intent.
Every bill the GOP pushed through regarding voting this last year, was with racial intent.
The truth is, Conservatives in Texas have always tried to take away the Constitutional rights of minorities. Once, they were Conservative Democrats, then Conservative Republicans after the Southern Strategy.
How much worse can it get?
The general rule is never to ask how much worse it can get because it can continually worsen.
Toni Morrison, renowned author noted in her 1995 Charter Day address at Howard University that before fascist movements arrive at a “final solution” (the euphemism used by Nazi leaders to refer to the mass murder of Jews), there are preceding steps that they use to advance their agenda. Ten steps, to be exact.
Toni Morrison’s Ten Steps Towards Fascism:
- Construct an internal enemy, as both focus and diversion. Us versus them. Conservatives versus America. The right versus the left. Culture wars. Republicans haven’t made a secret that their plan is to fight culture wars, targeted towards Democrats, BIPOC, immigrants, and anyone else that doesn’t follow their group-think.
- Isolate and demonize that enemy by unleashing and protecting the utterance of overt and coded name-calling and verbal abuse. Employ ad hominem attacks as legitimate charges against that enemy. Overt-name calling? Like how Abbott talks about invasions or Mitch McConnell’s rhetoric about African-Americans versus Americans. Or coded name calling, like Critical Race Theory. If you haven’t heard Lee Atwater’s 1981 description of how Conservatives use abstract terms for racism, it’s a must-hear.
3. Enlist and create sources and distributors of the information who are willing to reinforce the demonizing process because it is profitable, because it grants power and because it works. Fox News, OAN, Newsmax, Breitbart, and InfoWars, just to name a few.
4. Palisade all art forms; monitor, discredit or expel those that challenge or destabilize processes of demonization and deification. The GOP has already started burning books and firing teachers or school administrators who are Black or who teach children about other cultures.
5. Subvert and malign all representatives of and sympathizers with this constructed enemy. Check out any elected Republican’s regular appearance on right-wing media. They constantly lie and spew hate towards groups of people.
6. Solicit, from among the enemy, collaborators who agree with and can sanitize the dispossession process. Joe Manchin and Kristen Sinema.
7. Pathologize the enemy in scholarly and popular mediums; recycle, for example, scientific racism and the myths of racial superiority in order to naturalize the pathology. Attacks on our entire education system, placing white supremacists on school boards and banning the truths about history to be taught.
8. Criminalize the enemy. Then prepare, budget for and rationalize the building of holding arenas for the enemy-especially its males and absolutely its children. We aren’t here, yet. But if the Republicans have been following each step up to seven, what comes next?
9. Reward mindlessness and apathy with monumentalized entertainments and with little pleasures, tiny seductions, a few minutes on television, a few lines in the press, a little pseudo-success, the illusion of power and influence, a little fun, a little style, a little consequence. Check out this man at a Charlie Kirk speech who asked Kirk when they would be able to use their guns and kill these people who steal elections (he meant Democrats), which was greeted by applause.
10. Maintain, at all costs, silence. Ask yourself again, how much worse can it get?
American Fascism is based on white supremacy.
This is worth the read: The Long Shadow of Racial Fascism. It talks about how Black activists and revolutionaries have compared American fascism to European fascism. The American way of fascism was paved by slavery and white supremacy. Fascists today might not wear hoods or swastikas, opting instead for red hats and confederate flags.
Experts have said that the Capitol attack on January 6 was rooted in white supremacy and fascism for the last year.
Everyone should be paying attention to the right, to our elected officials, and to what’s happening in our country. This isn’t hyperbole. There are very real and present threats against all of us.
Last weekend, Trump held a rally in Conroe, Texas. At that rally, he vowed to pardon everyone involved with January 6 and said that his fans should riot in D.C., New York, and Atlanta if he was arrested.
How much worse can it get?
Republicans have already shown a willingness to reinstate Black Codes and Jim Crow. Republican voters have already demonstrated a desire to commit violence and even kill people with opposing views.
How much worse can it get?
There is a 1946 poem by the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller, that we all should know.
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.
How much worse can it get? Unfortunately, it can get a lot worse.
2022 is the most important election of your life.
Perhaps even more consequential than the 2020 vote. Ted Cruz has already said that the Republicans will impeach Joe Biden if they win in 2022. Why? Revenge for impeaching Trump. Newt Gingrich has said they will arrest and jail the House members who sit on the January 6 Committee. Why? Because they’re a roadblock to the Republican’s fascist takeover.
Canada is now preparing for the collapse of the United States of America and the influx of refugees they would see in a fascist takeover.
Republicans will start censoring journalists. They will strip House Democrats from committees in retaliation for Democrats removing Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar from their committees. They will push to reimplement the human rights abuses at the border, like Remain-In-Mexico and child separation. And they will make sure we further lose our rights to vote, our rights to control our bodies, and our access to healthcare.
The climate crisis? They will worsen it by giving polluters free rein with no regulations.
There isn’t a limit to how bad it can get.
Voting is essential, but everyone should be doing more.
That means talking to your friends and loved ones who don’t regularly vote about how important this upcoming election is. Get involved if you can—volunteer for local elections, state elections, or whoever you feel most passionate about. Donate if you can afford it.
American fascism is on the rise, don’t take my word for it. Look what they’ve already done. We have to save ourselves, and we only do that by voting the Republicans out of office.
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