Article written by JC Dufresne
A couple of weeks ago a bunch of Holocaust denying anti-Jewish demonstrators made appearances in San Antonio and Austin. While organizers and most of the participants were from out of state they found a lot of support from local white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Their goal was to sow hate in our communities and fear among our friends and neighbors, they succeeded. The fact is that Holocaust denial is as willfully ignorant as belief that the earth is flat or that the sun revolves around the earth. Unlike flat-earthers, Holocaust deniers often use violent rhetoric and occasionally act on that rhetoric. There was a spate of anti-Jewish vandalism that coincided with the demonstrations all of which served to cause fear in our communities.
Mayors and city council members in both San Antonio and Austin denounced the hateful messages and so did Democratic leaders like Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa but we didn’t hear a word from Republican leaders like Gov. Greg Abbott or Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Republican Party leaders have accommodated white nationalists repeatedly since the previous president began his campaign. The similarities to Europe in the 1930’s; when nationalists like Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler used antisemitism to take control of their countries.
To be clear Gov. Abbott, by all appearances, believes the horrible historical truth about the Holocaust. Earlier this year he signed a new law creating the Texas Holocaust, Genocide and Antisemitism Advisory Commission, responsible for producing studies of antisemitism in Texas and working with schools to fight against it. That doesn’t seem to mean that he is above the use of antisemitism for political gain by his tacit acceptance of those who espouse it within his party and political supporters.
The behavior of Gov. Abbott and others like him is actually more damaging to society than leaders who actually are anti-Semitic or racist and clearly state that they are because the public is led to believe that the leader is righteous while that leader uses dog whistles appealing to David Duke and Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists. Today’s right-wing politico must be more guarded in their language but still willing to at least look with other way when supporters of a less savory type act out.
Texas Republicans passed legislation earlier this year that prohibits public schools from teaching about the long lasting effects of slavery and racism and how even government regulations and procedures have perpetuated injury to the descendants of slaves up to the present, more than 150 years later. That legislation led to teachers at a training session in north Texas being instructed to provide books with the opposing view should they have books on the Holocaust in their classroom library. Whether or not that’s what the legislators who wrote the bill intended that’s what at least some public school officials interpreted it to mean.
How can we grow and prosper as a nation in a peaceful and respectful manner when our political leaders are more than willing to use our baser instincts to divide us so they can retain power?
JC Dufresne is a local Democrat
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