Texas Republicans: Upholding White Supremacist Mythology with the Power of Law

Republicans in the Texas House passed a bill Tuesday that effectively bans public school teachers from talking about racism, white supremacy or current news events.

Source: Texas GOP Passes Bill To Stop Teachers From Talking About Racism | HuffPost

Texas is awash in bills aimed at fending off critical examinations of the state’s past.

Source: Texas Eyes Laws to Limit Teaching Slavery in Classrooms – The New York Times

The Republican Party habitually inverts American history and the moral universe while quelling speech about actual American history. I grew up in Texas public education. We learned the Southern Strategy, the Confederate Catechism, the Lost Cause, and the Traditional Segregationist Discourse. We were taught a pile of racist, revisionist nonsense. I still recall a 7th grade history teacher yelling at us for saying the Civil War was about slavery, drilling “states’ rights” into us instead. Texas schools teach such white supremacist mythology to this day.

Critical Race Theory, a bogeyman and straw man for White evangelicals and the GOP, is rooted in Traditional Civil Rights Discourse. Both are necessary parts of K-12 curriculum. “The Front Porch” has a great series on CRT framed for White Christians that I wish my toxic Christian representatives would read in good faith.

But there is not a drop of good faith in my Republican representatives, nor in groups like the College Republicans, who direct the conservative outrage machine against institutions who haven’t hardened against it, resulting in the firing of journalists, teachers, and professors.

If you belong to, report on, or teach about a marginalized group, you’re an “activist” who will be harassed and hounded out of work.

Institutions must harden against Republican bad faith and protect us as we tell the truth and lay bare the mythology.

Previously,

Trinity of Toxic Nonsense: White Supremacy, Misogyny, and Purity Culture

When the latest mass-murdering white man mentioned “sex addiction”, he revealed the flavor of fascism he sups. This act is indelibly stamped with white evangelical culture. Evangelical churches all over America teach a toxic trinity of white supremacy, misogyny, and purity culture that repeatedly come to a head in killers’ heads.

The moment I read that the man who confessed to the murders was the son of a youth pastor who told police he had a “sex addiction,” however, it struck me that we must not ignore the specifically evangelical Protestant contours of this story.

One of the most significant conclusions Grubbs’ research points to, however, is that conservative Christian men are prone to believe that they have pornography or sex “addictions,” even when they do not.

If Long is telling the truth about his desire to “eliminate” the “temptations”-that is, women-that he claims exacerbated his “sex addiction,” it’s likely that he learned to think of himself this way, and to objectify women, in church. In evangelical institutional environments such as churches and Christian schools, discussions of sex are usually steeped in purity culture, that is a complex of beliefs and practices associated with an unhealthy fear of sexuality and intense pressure to remain “pure”-that is, sexually inexperienced-before marriage. I am among the many ex-evangelicals who were essentially coerced into signing “purity pledges” in the 1990s, which is just one of the many manipulative practices associated with purity culture.

Source: Don’t Discount Evangelicalism as a Factor in Racist Murder of Asian Spa Workers in Georgia | Religion Dispatches

Far from being an essential feature of historic Christianity, the popular purity teachings of today are a result of white anxiety around being able to produce enough well-behaved Christian babies to remain in charge of Western society. This relatively recent soup we’re all swimming in is the basis of the modern purity movement—or what many people refer to as purity culture.

Purity culture is a direct path to sexual shame. Different people respond differently to purity culture, and often our privilege insulates us from consequences that people with less privilege have no choice but to internalize. So not everyone will be carrying ten tons of baggage with them into adulthood. But almost everyone who grew up in purity culture exhibits signs or attitudes of sexual shame. And sexual shame is one of the main things that leads churches into silence when someone is abused in their midst.

We can look at the role culture plays in abuse while also holding abusers ultimately and finally accountable for their actions. Abuse is always the fault of the abuser, and the culture of a church will either reward or punish abusive behavior—attract it or repel it. Purity culture is fundamentally complicit in abuse.

Source: #ChurchToo: How Purity Culture Upholds Abuse and How to Find Healing | Broadleaf Books

White Evangelical Racism tells a concise history of the evangelical movement and—here is the hard part—the racist and racial elements that imbue its beliefs, practices, and social and political activism. It is racism that binds and blinds many white American evangelicals to the vilification of Muslims, Latinos, and African Americans. It is racism that impels many evangelicals to oppose immigration and turn a blind eye to children in cages at the border. It is racism that fuels evangelical Islamophobia. It was evangelical acceptance of biblically sanctioned racism that motivated believers to separate and sell families during slavery and to march with the Klan. Racist evangelicals shielded cross burners, protected church burners, and participated in lynchings. Racism is a feature, not a bug, of American evangelicalism.

“To a great extent, the evangelical church in America supported the status quo. It supported slavery; it supported segregation; it preached against any attempt of the black man to stand on his own two feet.” These words, uttered in 1970 by Tom Skinner—the son of a Black preacher and a former gang member turned evangelist—still ring true today.

Evangelicals’ support for current-day policies that seem draconian and unchristian is linked inescapably to a foundational history that we will uncover in this book. American history chronicles evangelical support for and participation in racist structures in America. Skinner got it right.

Source: White Evangelical Racism | Anthea Butler | University of North Carolina Press

Selected tweets from relevant experts:

Related: Sex Ed: Toxic Masculinity, Emotional Expression, Online Privacy, Identity Management, Dress Codes, Bodily Autonomy, and Purity Culture

White Resentment: The Grand Bargain of White Supremacy

At the base of that fear was what Smith calls the “grand bargain” of white supremacy, buttressed by paternalism and evangelicalism, whereby the southern white masses relinquished political power to the few in exchange for maintaining their social status as better than the black man.

Ever the dealmakers, these southern white elites bent their culture to their political will, trading democracy for power. When that power was threatened by the civil rights revolutions, they struck another grand bargain—this time with the Grand Old Party—the terms of which have yet to expire.

Initially, the GOP acted on the advice of Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona who, in a speech following Richard Nixon’s loss to Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy in 1960, told fellow Republican leaders, “We’re not going to get the Negro vote as a bloc in 1964 and 1968, so we ought to go hunting where the ducks are.” To do so, the GOP decided to capitalize on white racial angst, which was not in short supply in the South. However—and this is critical—that decision was but one in a series of decisions the party made not just on race, but on feminism and religion as well, in what is called here the “Long Southern Strategy.”

Once the GOP was seen as the protector of the southern sacraments of white privilege and patriarchy, many southern white voters flocked to it, turning the South solidly red in 1984 for the first time in history.

Fear and rage and resentment, the bread and butter of the Long Southern Strategy, often drive more people to the polls than optimism or likability or hope, no matter where they live.

Poor southern whites have long been conditioned to forfeit a personal battle in the service of winning an imagined war from which they do not benefit.

Source: Maxwell, Angie, Shields, Todd. The Long Southern Strategy. Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.

–President Lyndon B. Johnson

Source: LBJ: ‘Convince the Lowest White Man He’s Better Than the Best Colored Man’

Race was not only created to justify a racially exploitative economic system, it was invented to lock people of color into the bottom of it. Racism in America exists to exclude people of color from opportunity and progress so that there is more profit for others deemed superior. This profit itself is the greater promise for nonracialized people-you will get more because they exist to get less. That promise is durable, and unless attacked directly, it will outlive any attempts to address class as a whole.

This promise-you will get more because they exist to get less-is woven throughout our entire society. Our politics, our education system, our infrastructure-anywhere there is a finite amount of power, influence, visibility, wealth, or opportunity. Anywhere in which someone might miss out. Anywhere there might not be enough. There the lure of that promise sustains racism.

White Supremacy is this nation’s oldest pyramid scheme. Even those who have lost everything to the scheme are still hanging in there, waiting for their turn to cash out.

Even the election of our first black president did not lessen the lure of this promise to draw people to their support of racism. If anything, the election strengthened it. His election was a clear, undeniable sign that some black people could get more, and then what about everyone else’s share? Those who had always blatantly or subconsciously depended on that promise, that they would get more because others would get less, were threatened in ways that they could not put words to. But suddenly, this didn’t feel like “their country” anymore. Suddenly, they didn’t feel like “their needs” were being met.

What keeps a poor child in Appalachia poor is not what keeps a poor child in Chicago poor-even if from a distance, the outcomes look the same. And what keeps an able-bodied black woman poor is not what keeps a disabled white man poor, even if the outcomes look the same.

Even in our class and labor movements, the promise that you will get more because others exist to get less, calls to people. It tells you to focus on the majority first. It tells you that the grievances of people of color, or disabled people, or transgender people, or women are divisive. The promise that keeps racism alive tells you that you will benefit most and others will eventually benefit… a little. It has you believing in trickle-down social justice.

Yes, it is about class-and about gender and sexuality and ability. And it’s also, almost always, about race.

Source: Oluo, Ijeoma. So You Want to Talk About Race (pp. 12-13). Da Capo Press. Kindle Edition.

Protecting whiteness was tantamount to protecting an investment. Jobs, promotions, loans—all were easier for southern whites to get, free of competition from an entire oppressed portion of the population who had been denied equal access to education, indeed to everything. So perilous was the idea of a level playing field—and increasingly so as the country entered the economic downturn of the 1970s that “Southern White Privilege” ( chapter 2 ) became the new lost cause for which many were willing to go down fighting. Any policy or government expenditure deemed as providing a leg up for African Americans was understood only as an attack on whites in this zero-sum game. Over the course of the Long Southern Strategy, the coded racial mantras shifted from whites being better suited at governing, to whites having the right to protect whites-only private spaces, to whites being victims of reverse discrimination. But equality feels like an attack when privilege is all one knows. Together, the coded language provided deniability and the urgent threat of potential peril consolidated resistance. Politically malleable, whiteness has proven to be the GOP’s blank check that always clears.

Source: Maxwell, Angie,Shields, Todd. The Long Southern Strategy. Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage — that calculated mechanism of executive orders, laws and agency directives that undermines and punishes minority achievement and aspiration.

Source: Opinion | The Policies of White Resentment

In a way, Donald Trump represents white people’s right to be wrong and still be right. He is the embodiment of the unassailability of white power and white privilege.

To abandon him is to give up on the pact that America has made with its white citizens from the beginning: The government will help to underwrite white safety and success, even at the expense of other people in this country, whether they be Native Americans, African-Americans or new immigrants.

But this idea of elevating the lowest white man over those more qualified or deserving didn’t begin with Johnson’s articulation and won’t end with Trump’s manifestation. This is woven into the fabric of the flag.

For white supremacy to be made perfect, the lowest white man must be exalted above those who are black.

No matter how much of an embarrassment and a failure Trump proves to be, his exploits must be judged a success. He must be deemed a correction to Barack Obama and a superior choice to Hillary Clinton. White supremacy demands it. Patriarchy demands it. Trump’s supporters demand it.

Source: ‘The Lowest White Man’ – The New York Times

The motivation in 2016 was equally nefarious and destructive. Trump tapped into an increasingly powerful conservative base that had been nurtured for decades on the Southern Strategy’s politics of anti-black resentment. Similar to George Wallace’s run for the presidency in 1968, Trump’s supporters bristled at the thought that public policies would provide any help to African Americans and were certain that blacks were getting much more than they deserved from the government while the “average American” was getting much less. The message was clear: They weren’t deserving and weren’t really even Americans.

Source: Anderson Ph.D., Carol. White Rage (p. 169). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Trump’s own racism allowed him to do what other candidates couldn’t: solidify the support of a majority of white Christians, not despite, but through appeals to white supremacy.

By activating the white supremacy sequence within white Christian DNA, which was primed for receptivity by the perceived external threat of racial and cultural change in the country, Trump was able to convert white evangelicals in the course of a single political campaign from so-called values voters to “nostalgia voters.” Trump’s powerful appeal to white evangelicals was not that he spoke to the culture wars around abortion or same-sex marriage, or his populist appeals to economic anxieties, but rather that he evoked powerful fears about the loss of white Christian dominance amid a rapidly changing environment.

Source: Jones, Robert P.. White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (p. 15). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

See also: