The Christian fascists in control of Texas have continued to push through a series of fascist laws aimed at shaping the state of 29 million into a bastion of institutionalized white supremacy, subjugation of women, anti-scientific ignorance, and elevation of religion—especially Christianity— to a special status, for years to come. A revcom.us article from last month exposed and documented much of this. Since then, Christian fascist governor Abbott called yet another “special session” of the state legislature to advance further repressive measures. This article focuses on some measures proposed and enacted, in the month and a half since our last article on this, and beginning efforts to put some of these laws into practice.
- Anti-trans law passed—This law will restrict transgender student athlete participation in school sports and prohibit trans children from participating on teams that match their gender identity. It promotes anti-trans hate and bigotry.
- Voter redistricting—Republi-fascist lawmakers redistricted representation for federal and state legislatures to ensure the domination of white, Republican, and largely rural and suburban populations for at least a decade. White people have been a minority of the population in Texas for years, and 95% of the state’s rapidly rising population growth is Latina/o, Black, and Asian. But the new map for the state legislature does not create any new districts where those voters are a majority; in fact, the new map takes one away. The new map also contains more than twice as many majority white Congressional districts as majority Latina/o, although their total populations are about the same.
- Felony penalties for “voter fraud”—Abbott pushed last-minute legislation to make “illegal voting” a class 2 felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. As various studies have shown, “fraudulent voting” is essentially non-existent in the U.S.1 This measure is intended to intimidate Black and Latina/o people from voting if they are unsure of their voting eligibility. In one recent case, Crystal Mason, a Tarrant County woman, is facing a five-year prison sentence for a ballot she cast when she mistakenly thought she was eligible to vote after serving almost three years in prison: “No one ever told her that she wasn’t allowed to vote until her federal supervised release was over.” The law also serves to egg on mobs of white fascists to search out alleged “voter fraud” in cities populated by large numbers of Black people and immigrants.
- Vote “audit”—Hours after Donald Trump demanded a “forensic audit” of the 2020 vote in Texas, as part of the ongoing fascist campaign claiming the 2020 election was “stolen” by the Democrats, Abbot announced an “audit” of that vote in four counties that include much of the Houston and Dallas-Ft. Worth areas. These audits are scheduled to have a “second phase” beginning in the spring of 2022, as the next round of elections approaches.
- Mob intimidation - In Hood County, abusive fascist mobs claiming that “God’s will is being thwarted” spent months besieging the county’s elections administrator for not being sufficiently pro-Trump and recently drove her to resign, despite the fact that Trump won 81% of the vote there. Attacks like these on the validity of elections are part of forging an “enraged and delusional base for fascist violence and fascist rule.”
- Punishing the homeless—Abbot threatened city leaders who didn’t move to implement a new state law banning “outdoor camping.” In late September, Austin city officials began shutting down the city’s largest encampments of homeless. KUT radio reported that “the people who lived there — most of whom are elderly and Black — say they have no place to go.”
- Banning vaccine mandates—On October 11, Abbott signed an executive order “banning ‘any entity’ in the state from enforcing a vaccine mandate.” His order specifically enables people to refuse vaccination “based on a religious belief.”
- Criminalizing immigrants—Last summer Abbott vowed to “start arresting everybody” in the state’s border regions with Mexico who state and local police assume is an immigrant and charge them with “criminal trespass.” Hundreds of people have been caught in this flagrantly illegal attempt to enforce federal immigration law by state officials. NPR reported that “Texas sent hundreds of state troopers, game wardens, National Guard and out-of-state peace officers to patrol land along the Rio Grande. So far, they've arrested well over a thousand men for misdemeanor trespassing.” On October 15, Abbott announced he was granting over $36.4 million to this effort, dubbed “Operation Lone Star.”
- “Steel wall” at the border with Mexico—When thousands of Haitian asylum seekers were penned in at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, Abbott sent a fleet of police and state-owned vehicles to create a miles-long barricade along the border. He boasted to Fox “News”: “What we did, we put hundreds of Texas Department of Public Safety cars and created a steel wall—a steel wall of DPS vehicles—that prevented anybody from crossing that dam that you’ve seen people walk across. We effectively … regained control of the border.”
- Outlawing abortion pills—In late September Abbott quietly signed a law “adding more restrictions and raising criminal penalties for the use of abortion-inducing medication in Texas.” The law prevents physicians or providers from giving out abortion-inducing drugs after seven weeks of pregnancy, and carries fines up to $10,000 and up to two years in jail. This comes on top of what Sunsara Taylor described as the state’s “near total ban on abortion that had been in enforcement since September 1 of this year.”
There has been some opposition to this onslaught. On October 2, thousands of people gathered in Houston, Austin, Brownsville and other cities across the state as part of nationwide protests against SB8, the law that essentially outlaws abortions across the state. Small protests against SB8 have been held at the University of Houston and University of Texas.
Isolated protests against different aspects of the fascist program have popped up in high schools across the state:
*At Temple High School, several hundred students walked out and staged a protest in support of Kendall Tinoco, a 16-year-old transgender student who said a teacher denied her access to the girls’ locker room.
*In Katy, parents and students protested and successfully demanded that books pulled from school libraries for “teach(ing) critical race theory ... and promote(ing) Marxism” be returned.
*In Colleyville, a wealthy and mostly white suburb of Ft. Worth, over 100 students walked out and protested for two consecutive days, in support of their principal, a Black man put on administrative leave and eventually fired after he was accused of “supporting critical race theory and ‘the conspiracy theory of systemic racism.’”
But much, much more is needed.
A Fascist Order Begins to Form
The Republi-fascists are obliterating “politics as usual.” They are mobilizing violent mobs, taking measures to ensure their domination for years to come, packing the courts with fascists, foisting their ignorant, hateful ideology on society as a whole and on the youth in particular. They have begun to impose the framework of a Christian fascist order on Texas, and there is absolutely no indication they will stop before it is fully in place, and used as a springboard towards imposing it across the entire country.
Meanwhile, the Democrats act as if it's business as usual: plotting voting strategies in a setup that has rendered them powerless; filing lawsuits that get swatted away in the fascist dominated courts. Their impotence in the face of the fascist juggernaut was on vivid display when Sheila Jackson Lee, a nationally prominent Black Congresswoman, went to Austin and whined to the fascist legislature that her own home was taken out of the Houston district she represents—“that map hurts,” she moaned. She was ignored.
Not Dark Yet
The hour is very late indeed. As a refrain in a Bob Dylan song goes, “It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.” This entire fascist onslaught, and every one of its measures, must be opposed with massive, ongoing outpourings and resistance. More importantly, a movement for an actual revolution needs to take root and grow in these turbulent conditions. And it can.
The ominous and escalating developments in Texas are an expression of the deep divisions and conflict tearing at this country, and tearing apart those who have ruled it. But this does not have to stay on the terms of this system. These developments also indicate the potential for something radically different, and radically better, to emerge from this turmoil—IF growing numbers of people conscious of the need and basis for that change act on it.
As Bob Avakian wrote in his article THIS IS A RARE TIME WHEN REVOLUTION BECOMES POSSIBLE—WHY THAT IS SO, AND HOW TO SEIZE ON THIS RARE OPPORTUNITY:
In order to seize on the rare opportunity to make revolution, the situation we face must be recognized for what it actually is: People need to raise their heads and broaden their sights, look beyond what is immediately around them, break with illusions and phony “solutions,” and take up the scientific method of the new communism to get a basic understanding, and keep on deepening the understanding, of what is actually going on, what are the very heavy stakes in all this, and what are not only the very negative but also the very positive possibilities for radical change that exist within all this.