Texas: Intense Conflicts Over Deep Social Divisions Coming to a Head

A Report from a Correspondent in Texas

An important juncture is nearing. Within the next month and a half, an ensemble of vicious measures, led by Republican-fascist officials and legislators, will become law in Texas. Individually and taken together, these measures could have an immediately disastrous impact on the lives of millions of people in Texas (and countries to its south), and go a big way towards shaping the social and political landscape across the entire country, tearing at the “normal functioning” of how U.S. society has cohered, and been ruled.

Abortion—On September 1, a law that essentially outlaws all abortions in the state becomes effective. It bars abortions as soon as what fascists deceitfully label a “fetal heartbeat” (actually a group of cells emitting electrical signals that can be heard by modern ultrasounds1) can be detected, usually about six weeks after the onset of pregnancy, and before most women know they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for women impregnated from rape or incest.2

As this fascist measure becomes law, it is to be enforced by private citizens who can sue abortion providers and anyone who in any way (knowingly or not) assists women seeking an abortion, not by criminal charges enforced by the state attorney general or county district attorneys. It was designed to incite and mobilize Christian fascists and other anti-abortion fanatics into becoming vigilantes empowered to carry out terror against and suppression of women, and to make lawsuits against it difficult to succeed.3 In six weeks, abortion may be de facto (in fact) outlawed in the second most populous state in the country.

Whitewashing History—Christian fascists in state government are moving to mandate “patriotic education” in schools and other state institutions, and to suppress and outlaw telling the truth about the history of Texas, and the entire U.S.4 Governor Greg Abbott tweeted, “Of course Texas school children should be taught that the Alamo defenders were ‘heroic’! I fully expect the State Board of Education to agree.”

A quick background: In 1836, what is now Texas was part of Mexico—a country which had outlawed slavery when it officially gained its independence from Spain in 1821. The Alamo was a chapel in San Antonio where a group of Americans demanding independence from Mexico were defeated in a battle with the Mexican army. The great myth of Texas drilled into the heads of generations of school kids is that the Alamo is a shrine to freedom and independence, and that the people who died defending it are heroes. A basic fact: The Alamo is a putrid monument to the defense of slavery and the theft of a large part of what had been Mexico. Texas was founded by people who were fighting to establish slavery in a country where it had been outlawed. Once Texas became a state, it joined the Confederate slave power in the U.S. Civil War to defend slavery; in the following decades the state authorities waged bloodthirsty, genocidal campaigns against Native Americans, and later a massive campaign of slaughter of Mexican people in the border areas.

One early indication of what this whitewash of history will mean: The authors of a recent book called Forget the Alamo were scheduled to hold a book discussion at the Bullock Museum, the official museum of the State of Texas. A central theme of the book is that legalizing slavery of Black people in Texas was the primary reason it fought its war for independence from Mexico. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick canceled the event hours before it was to happen, tweeting “As a member of the Preservation Board, I told staff to cancel this event as soon as I found out about it. ... this fact-free rewriting of TX history has no place @BullockMuseum.”5 (The book has climbed bestseller lists since this suppression.)6

Voter Suppression—Texas already has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country,7 but Abbott has been pushing for a new assault aimed at effectively disenfranchising still larger numbers of Black and Latina/o people. This move is aimed at ensuring the state’s continued domination by white supremacist fascists—especially those in the state’s vast rural areas—even though Anglo white people are a minority overall, and about 85 percent of the state’s population lives in cities or suburbs.8 Fascist state authorities claim they are doing this to combat the essentially non-existent problem of “voter fraud.”

In what could be a pretext for outright stealing elections in which their efforts at voter suppression aren’t enough, these fascists even inserted—at the last minute of the previous session—language that would enable a judge to overturn an election not with evidence that fraud actually altered the election, but with a “determination” that enough ballots were illegally cast that “could have made a difference.”9 Democrats in the state legislature have taken the extraordinary step of fleeing to Washington, DC, to try to stop this measure from coming to a vote, which would mean a certain Republican victory, and becoming law. Republi-fascists are threatening to have them arrested, and cutting off pay for them and their staff,10 until their racist voter restrictions are passed.

Building a Border Wall—On his first day in office, Joe Biden signed an executive order stopping the construction of Trump’s border wall.11 Since then, Texas officials, led by Greg Abbott, have repeatedly said they will build a state wall of “hundreds of miles.”12 Abbott issued a call and set up a web page for people to contribute to this effort, and, along with Arizona governor Ducey, called for other states to send National Guard troops to prevent an “invasion” of refugees and defend “our sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Republi-fascist governors of at least five13 states have responded favorably to this call.

As revcom.us wrote, “While the actual deployments are at this point not large, these fascist state governors are essentially challenging federal government control over border and immigration policies (which is designated by the U.S. Constitution) by deploying military force under their command to implement their own policy on the border.14

An important juncture is nearing. Within the next month and a half, an ensemble of vicious measures, led by Republican-fascist officials and legislators, will become law in Texas.

People waiting to cross border silhouetted against sky at gap in border wall Texas

 

Republican/Christian fascist Texas governor, Greg Abbott, allocated $250 million for a “Texas border wall” and launched a “crowd source” fund drive to pay the remaining cost. Above, migrants at gap in Texas-Mexico border wall.    Photo: AP

Women of all ages protest for women's right to abortion.

 

On September 1, a law that essentially outlaws all abortions in the state becomes effective. Above, Austin protesters demand the right to abortion.    Photo: AP

Black man chants "Teach the Truth" in special legislature session

 

At a special Texas state legislature session, people protesting bills limiting the teaching of the history of slavery and continuing, systemic racism demand: “Allow teachers to teach the truth.”    Photo: AP

Early voters wait in line at Southern Texas University

 

Texas already has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the country, but Abbott has been pushing for a new assault aimed at effectively disenfranchising still larger numbers of Black and Latina/o people. Here people wait to vote at Southern Texas University, March 2020.    Photo: Allyn West

Pro-Trump Stop The Steal march to the capitol, Austin, Texas

 

The fascists seek to mobilize white supremacist, woman-hating, and immigrant-hating mobs and vigilantes to enforce and advance their offensive, and to intimidate any opposition. Above, November 21, 2020, Stop the Steal Rally, Austin.    Photo: Austin-American Statesman

Each of these measures is enormously damaging to the masses of people on its own. Even more important, the entire package concentrates a serious attempt by fascists to create policies on key social issues in opposition to and defiance of a federal government whose legitimacy they reject, and to develop the authority to enforce them.

Mobilizing Fascist Mobs and Vigilantes

The seriousness of this situation is an expression of a crucial point in the statement, A Declaration, A Call To Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution: “This system is in real trouble, caught up in crisis and conflicts for which it has no easy or lasting solutions. Throughout this country the workings of this system have given rise to deep divisions which cannot be resolved under this system. Society is being ripped apart. Those who rule are locked in a bitter fight among themselves, and they cannot hold things together in the way they have in the past.”

Cover of A Declaration, A Call to Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution

 

The fascists seek to mobilize white supremacist, woman-hating, and immigrant-hating mobs and vigilantes to enforce and advance their offensive, and to intimidate any opposition. Some examples:

• The law to ban abortion practically invites anti-abortion fanatics to pursue and bring lawsuits against anyone who “knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion,” and rewards anyone who brings a successful lawsuit with at least $10,000.15

• Abbott has called on his fellow fascists to “crowdsource” money for the border wall.16

• This spring, a Republican official pointed at a map of heavily Black and multinational Houston, and said he was trying to build an “army” of poll watchers out of the white suburbanites in his audience who would “have the courage and confidence to come down here in these areas,” because otherwise “... this fraud down here is really going to continue.”17

• The Texas Public Policy Foundation, a fascist “think tank,” tweeted a list of words and phrases such as “colonialism,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “white supremacy” for parents to “be on the lookout for” in their children’s schools.18 They deleted the tweet after being widely ridiculed on social media.19

Questions for Texas Quiz

 

Quiz, questions and answers.             Online   Download PDF  of quiz  Questions   • Answers     

A Fight with Huge Stakes

As Bob Avakian wrote in his New Year’s Statement, “A New Year, The Urgent Need For A Radically New World—For The Emancipation Of All Humanity”:

The forces fighting for the past are aiming to reverse, with a vengeance, even the modest concessions that have been made to the fight against social injustice and institutionalized inequality and oppression, and to enforce a form of capitalist dictatorship that is overt and unrestrained by the Constitution and the rule of law (or which turns the Constitution and the rule of law into merely instruments of fascist tyranny and atrocity).

Right now, the Democrats are fighting to stop the voter restrictions that fascist Republicans are hell-bent on pushing through. Many of them understand that a great deal is at stake in this fight, now and for the future, and the representatives who fled Texas feel fully justified in leaving the state to prevent the voter restrictions from becoming law. Senfronia Thompson, a state senator from Houston, told the Washington Post, “Haven’t we done enough? Haven’t we paid the price enough? What is it going to take for us to be Americans in this country? We are Americans. We deserve the same rights and respect, and the same consideration that everybody has. And I’m going to fight until we get it. I am not going to be your hostage. If they want to arrest me, bring it on.”

But for one thing, the brutal fact is that the court system is dominated by fascists, on the federal level and in many states, certainly in Texas. But more to the point is that while the Republi-fascists are tearing up the norms that have cohered and governed society, the Democrats are staying within those norms, and fighting within those in a losing battle. Also, the Democrats are not mobilizing masses of people into the streets in serious struggle against the fascist onslaught, because that kind of mobilization could threaten the stability of the very system they represent and preside over.

A Need, and a Basis, for Radically Resetting Terms

The history of this country in white supremacy, and its founding and cohering norms and myths, including as embodied in such hateful symbols as the Alamo, give initiative to the fascists. But in recent years millions of people have also risen up in protest in cities and towns across the country—in the beautiful uprising against police terror, in defense of immigrants, and, in many countries across the world, against the vicious attacks on women. Many people have begun awakening to the fact that this country was founded on slavery, theft, and genocide, and are struggling to come to grips with the ongoing legacy and expressions of that history in today’s grotesquely unjust world.

Far, far more is needed. The urgent need, and the basis for resetting the terms on which these battles are being fought, and transforming the entire political and cultural atmosphere in society, is great.

As “A Declaration, A Call To Get Organized Now For A Real Revolution” states:

These days there is a lot of talk about another civil war, especially from fascists, in government and the broader society, who think they could just carry out a one-sided slaughter of those they hate, including Black people and other people of color, “illegal immigrants,” “uppity women” and those who don’t conform to “traditional” sexual and gender relations and “norms.” This situation needs to be radically changed, to where there are masses of people prepared to defeat these fascists and to do so as part of getting rid of this whole system, which has bred these fascists, along with all the other horrors it continually perpetrates.

What we need is “repolarization for revolution—making real revolution an active and increasingly powerful force of first thousands, and then millions, of people organized to work for and win more and more people to this revolution— radically changing the “terrain” on which the revolution will be fought.

Read more here.

 


1. “Is a ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Really a Heartbeat at 6 Weeks?,” Live Science, May 17, 2019  [back]

2. “Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law one of nation’s strictest abortion measures, banning procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy,” Texas Tribune, May 19, 2021  [back]

3. Enforcement of criminal law is done by government officials. In the case of abortion, when abortion providers wanted to challenge the constitutionality of laws prohibiting or restricting abortion, they would sue the officials—like a state attorney general, or district attorneys—making the case. But the fascist twist in the new Texas law actually prohibits officials from enforcing it. As an article in the New York Times explained, “It takes the opposite approach, effectively deputizing ordinary citizens—including from outside Texas—to sue clinics and others who violate the law. It awards them at least $10,000 per illegal abortion if they are successful.” This makes it extremely difficult for people defending the right to abortion to challenge this law in the courts before it takes effect—it is difficult, if not impossible, to know whom to sue to block it in advance.  [back]

4. “Whitewashing History, Brainwashing Youth, Stifling Debate: Texas’s Indoctrination Project,” revcom.us, May 24, 2021  [back]

5. Dan Patrick Twitter feed  [back]

6. “Canceled slavery-Alamo discussion: Forget Dan Patrick’s fact-free tweet,” San Antonio Report, July 6, 2021  [back]

7. “Fascist Voter Suppression Laws Loom in Texas,” revcom.us, July 12, 2021  [back]

8. “The Changing Demographics of Texas,” KTRH News Radio, July 16, 2021  [back]

9. “Texas Republicans finalize bill that would enact stiff new voting restrictions and make it easier to overturn election results,” Washington Post, May 29, 2021  [back]

10. “2,100 state workers caught in the crosshairs of Gov. Greg Abbott’s veto of Legislature funding,” Texas Tribune, July 2, 2021  [back]

11. “Biden White House shuts down border wall construction on first day,” The Architect’s Newspaper, January 21, 2021  [back]

12. Texas governor puts $250 million down payment on a border wall, Washington Post, June 16, 2021  [back]

13. “GOP governors answer Texas’ call to send forces to the border. But what is their role?” Politifact, July 2, 2021  [back]

14. “Fascist Governors Move to Deploy Their Own Military Forces on the Border in Blatant Opposition to Federal Policy,” revcom.us, July 5, 2021  [back]

15. “Gov. Greg Abbott signs into law one of nation’s strictest abortion measures, banning procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy,” Texas Tribune, May 19, 2021  [back]

16. Texas Governor: State, crowdsourcing will fund border wall, Associated Press, June 17, 2021  [back]

17. Texas GOP recruiting 'army' to fight voter fraud in largely minority areas of Houston, NBC News, April 9, 2021  [back]

18. “’Stay on the lookout’: Texas group posts parent's guide to detect ‘critical race theory’ teachings,” Houston Chronicle, June 30, 2021  [back]

19. “Texas conservatives mocked for list of scary words like ‘diversity’ & ‘ally’ being taught in schools,” LGBTQ Nation, June 30, 2021  [back]

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