The executive committee of the Republican Party of Texas this month voted down a resolution that would have banned members from associating with antisemites, Holocaust deniers, and Nazi sympathizers – then attempted to hide a record of the vote, The Texas Tribune reports.
“In at-times tense debate on Saturday, members argued that words like ‘tolerate’ or ‘antisemitism’ were too vague or subjective,” the report said. “The ban, some argued, was akin to ‘Marxist’ and ‘leftist’ tactics, and would create guilt by association that could be problematic for the party, its leaders and candidates. ‘It could put you on a slippery slope,’ said committee member Dan Tully,” according to the Tribune.
On a slippery slope to what is unclear, because Texas Republicans already swooped down that ramp a while ago. “The resolution was prompted by a meeting between Jonathan Stickland — president of the far-right Defend Texas Liberty PAC and a former state representative — with notorious white supremacist Nick Fuentes last month,” Judd Legum reports for Popular Information. Defend Texas Liberty PAC is one of the most influential financial supporters of Republican campaigns in the state, contributing millions of dollars to GOP officials including Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick.
The Texas Tribune reports that Republican Party of Texas Chair Matt Rinaldi was spotted at the site of the meeting, but claimed he knew nothing about Fuentes, who also has ties to national Republicans including Representatives Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene. “I completely condemn that guy and everything he stands for,” Rinaldi said. “I would never in a million years meet with that guy.” Yet Rinaldi abstained from voting on the ban. “I don’t see any antisemitic, pro-Nazi or Holocaust denial movement on the right that has any significant traction whatsoever,” he claimed.
Is that so? Because Rinaldi might want to check out what the leader of the GOP has been saying as of late. While indicted former President Donald Trump issued a supposed condemnation of a notorious neo-Nazi rally that gathered to celebrate his win following the 2016 presidential election, he last month spewed horrific rhetoric echoing dictators like Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, repeatedly attacking his critics as “vermin.” Numerous historians and scholars – and mainstream journalists – would state, with alarm, that Trump’s remarks imitated fascistic propaganda that dehumanized Jewish people by equating them to rodents and parasites.
So the Nazi rhetoric is coming straight from the leader of the GOP, which means that the Republican Party of Texas isn’t going rogue, it’s going very much in line. It’s not just the rhetoric, either. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shares the same chaotic, racist, and intentionally deadly approach to immigration as Trump through policies like Operation Lone Star and proposed laws like S.B.4, which would turn local and state police into agents targeting anyone with brown or black skin suspected of being an immigrant who had entered the country illegally.
Aron Thorn, a Senior Staff Attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project’s Beyond Borders Program, warned against claims from S.B. 4’s proponents that many Texans would be immune from the law’s effects should it go into place.
“This narrative relies on some sense that millions of people don’t call the 50-mile zone from the Texas – Mexico border home, or travel through that,” he said during a press call this week. “Every single year, millions of tourists –- mostly from Mexico, but [also] from other countries — enter at the land ports of Texas borders, spend lots of money, come on vacation here, and otherwise enter the border through that zone. Hundreds of thousands of people every day are traversing that area, and even within this range, it makes it almost impossible to identify non-citizens who might be subject to this law, but likely will not stop them from being harassed under this scheme.”
The condemnation of Nazis, white supremacists, and other deplorables is the lowest of low bars, yet it’s a bar that the Texas Republicans have admitted themselves they can’t clear. “Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) called the vote ‘despicable’ and lamented that the Texas GOP ‘can’t even bring themselves to denounce neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers,’” Popular Information reported.
In fact, Texas State Senator Bob Hall defended lobbying against the resolution, by offensively comparing Nazis with the LGBTQ community. “‘I’ve had meetings with transgenders, gays and lesbians,’ Hall said,” Popular Information reported. “‘Does that make me a transgender, gay or a lesbian?’ Asked if he was comparing LGBTQ people to white supremacists, Hall said they are all people ‘who are political hot potatoes.’”
Where are the prominent Texas Republicans elected to Washington, like Representatives Monica De La Cruz and Tony Gonzales? Once again failing to lead. Both have instead helped to normalize extremism by supporting a sham impeachment effort against Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, voting in favor of impeachment articles invoking white nationalist conspiratorial rhetoric that’s been cited in a number of racist terror attacks across the U.S.
Republicans aren’t just playing footsie with extremists like Holocaust deniers and Nazi sympathizers – they’re also endorsing the radical policies that go in line with that thinking. Both Rinaldi and Phelan may offer their lukewarm pushback, but the ban’s failure and continued popularity of Trump among the base make clear which line of thinking is winning out within the Republican Party.
“As a Texan, I wish I could say that I’m surprised that the state’s GOP refuses to reject Nazism, something that seems easy enough to do,” said Mario Carrillo, Texas-based Campaigns Manager for America’s Voice. “But the fact that so many in the party are so beholden to the right-wing extremism of Donald Trump, banning of white supremacists seems a bridge too far for many in the Texas GOP. We know we’ve long deserved better as a state, but this news only strengthens our resolve to continue fighting for a better Texas for all of us that call this state home.”