Representative Tony Tinderholt used racist rhetoric in committee and received pushback from Chairwoman Neave.
The carpetbagger Tony Tinderholt was on the verge of losing his seat in HD94 but was saved by Republicans’ racial gerrymandering. Representative Tinderholt has been in the news multiple times in recent months. First, for hiring a Christian Nationalist as his legislative director and then for running for House Speaker because of his hatred for Democrats.
Tinderholt concocted a new reason for the alt-right to be outraged this week when he used the term “illegal immigrants” when asking about population growth during the Committee on County Affairs.
Committee Chair Victoria Neave politely corrected Tinderholt on the inflammatory language.
The language used by Tinderholt was racist, and Neave was acting appropriately in calling him out for it. She correctly pointed out that the term is dehumanizing and derogatory and that it is essential to use respectful and accurate language.
Tinderholt’s response was defensive and dismissive, insisting that the term is legal and ethical and refusing to accept Neave’s concerns. He insisted that he was only asking a “passive question,” but his language was loaded with political and racial implications. By referring to immigrants as “illegal,” he was perpetuating the harmful stereotype that all immigrants are criminals and framing the issue as lawlessness rather than human dignity.
Immigrants are people who have come to this country for a variety of reasons, and many have done so through legal channels. By reducing them to legal status, Tinderholt erases their humanity and denies them of basic respect they deserve.
Then, Tinderholt took to Twitter to cry about the exchange.
He said, “I will not abide by “woke” speech codes or avoid discussing important issues that impact Texans’ lives to avoid offending Democrat members.”
Tony Tinderholt’s tweet about “woke” speech codes perfectly shows how some conservatives use “woke” to defend white supremacy. The term “woke” has been co-opted by conservatives to describe any form of progressive thought or action that challenges the status quo. This includes issues like racial justice, gender equality, and LGBTQ rights. Tinderholt attempts to cast himself as a defender of free speech against a supposed liberal agenda. However, his racist term reflects a deeper problem of conservative politicians using coded language to perpetuate discriminatory policies and maintain the status quo of white dominance.
Neave acted within her rights as the committee chair to maintain order and ensure the discussion remained respectful and productive.
The bigger picture.
This exchange is part of a larger pattern of racist rhetoric and policies from the Republican Party in Texas and across the country. By framing the issue of immigration in terms of lawlessness and criminality, they are stoking fear and division.
Neave’s decision to challenge Tinderholt’s language is a small but essential step in pushing back against this rhetoric and creating a more inclusive and respectful political discourse. It is incumbent on all of us to use accurate and respectful language and challenge those who use harmful and demeaning language. Only then can we hope to build a more just and equitable society for all.
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