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Gov. Abbott is Attracting Proud Boys, Neo-Nazis, and an Assortment of Bigots and Hard-Right Provocateurs Prepping for Battle At the Border

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Washington, DC — Texas Governor Greg Abbott is inviting a dangerous mob that amounts to a threat to public safety as he maneuvers Texas into a standoff with the federal government over who has access to our international border and who should enforce our laws there. Texas leaders and others are using the rhetoric of white nationalism and antisemitic conspiracies while, predictably, armed hard-right conspiracists and bigots have rallied around the Governor’s position as validation of their ideas. Governor Abbott has remarked about “shooting” migrants, officially described migrants as a literal “invasion,” and invoked the rights of armed self-defense in addressing immigration. Experts who follow the extremists are increasingly alarmed by the rhetoric and planning currently underway by some of the same violent entities that attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and how they are responding to Governor Abbott.

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, Executive Director of America’s Voice:

“Tragically, we have seen this story before, and we know how it ends. When high-ranking political figures employ inflammatory rhetoric, painting an immediate existential threat to the nation with a particular rallying point, supporters respond by presenting a serious threat of violence. Gov. Abbott is engaged in a predictably dangerous political stunt, and those responding to the call risk turning his stunt into a crisis.

Elected leaders shouldn’t repeat the mistakes that led us to January 6, 2021. In late 2020, many observers downplayed the potential for violence in DC, but now we must pay very close attention to what is happening with the types of groups that are gathering in Texas. There are too many parallels for any of us to ignore.  This is not just an issue of how we handle migration. This is becoming a threat to  our safety, and security and a challenge to our Democracy.”

Excerpts below from experts and journalists on the hard-right rallies planned along the border this weekend and who is responding to Governor Abbott’s call:   

  • The Global Project Against Hate and Extremism noted an affirmative response from the global far-right to Gov. Abbott’s move, writing: “In the United States, the white supremacist Proud Boys group, neo-Nazi Active Clubs, and the neo-Nazi Aryan Freedom Network have all taken advantage of this standoff to push their propaganda and recruit new members on Telegram, a loosely-moderated social media platform. The Republic of Texas Proud Boys, for example, shared a post by neo-Nazi Telegram channel ZoomerWaffen calling immigrants ‘brown migrant invaders.’ The South Texas Proud Boys shared a message telling their followers to ‘grab your guns,’ echoing the violent rhetoric used by other extremists and politicians this week.” 
  • An event organized by the hard right, Take Our Border Back, with rallies planned for this weekend along the border, is looking to capitalize on the reaction to Gov. Abbott. It is a website and community that is the source of serious concern that bad actors involved could turn to violence. As Tess Owen at Vice noted, “Experts say that the Christian nationalist rhetoric adds a dangerous dimension to the standoff between Texas and the Federal Government.” Owen’s report goes on to document how the Take Our Border Back organizers see themselves as an “army of God.”  
  • David Gilbert at Wired reported on the violent rhetoric and the calls for coming armed surrounding the upcoming Take Our Border Back rallies, as well as the connections to election deniers. Gilbert concludes with the important reminder that “while much of this kind of violent rhetoric is never acted upon, there have been a growing number of incidents beyond January 6 where online comments have been followed up with real-world action”. 
  • For the organizers themselves, there is a direct line between their election denialism and their nativist organizing. And for some promoting the rally, they hope that the Take Our Border Back rallies can be the “Kick-off that January 6 should have been.”  
  • Neo-Nazis like Ryan Sanchez have promoted the rallies, as has the white nationalist website VDare.
  • Research published by Media Matters last week also found that far-right media like Alex Jones, among others, has promoted the rallies as well as Rep. Keith Self (R-TX).  Following the publication, Rep. Self promoted the rallies on a Fox Business segment and Fox published an online piece promoting the Take Our Border Back rally over the weekend. Meanwhile, far-right TV network NewsNation ran a free promotion for the Take Our Border Back rally, laying out the route and failing to note any of the links to violence or extremists.