NBC News has a long read about the successful efforts of a far-far-right "Christian" cellphone provider (and yes that is a thing) to take over Texas school boards and rewrite what teachers are and aren't allowed to do in classrooms. There's a lot to go through, but it's an effective look at the American fascist movement and their efforts to, mainly, hurt anyone who isn't them.
"Patriot Mobile" is a minor-tier wireless provider that promises a political bent: You pays them your moneys, and they use part of your moneys to screw over your neighbors—sorry, to promote "conservative" and "Christian" values, the first a hell of a lot more than the second, and it got its big break because Steve Bannon, an outright fascist, has been hyping them to his audience of greasy militia freaks as the sort of thing fascists need to be doing more of.
At this point you might be thinking that I'm throwing around the fascist label pretty freely, but read the piece. It's instructive. The company is "Christian" only in the way that most far-right "Christian" groups are, meaning they don't care if you're a child-raping serial liar so long as you let good Christians rub assault rifles against their naughty parts:
"Initially, Patriot Mobile’s founders said their goal was to support groups and politicians who promised to oppose abortion, defend religious freedom, protect gun rights and support the military."
And then Trump came along and they loved the hell outta that grifting con artist, which led to the "Christian" phone company advertising their services using. NBC includes the picture, a picture of Donald Trump in a Rambo get-up "holding a machine gun." It's that kind of Christian. It's also this kind of "Christian":
"This spring, the PAC blanketed the communities of Southlake, Keller, Grapevine and Mansfield with thousands of political mailers warning that sitting school board members were endangering students with critical race theory and other 'woke' ideologies. Patriot Mobile presented its candidates as patriots who would 'keep political agendas out of the classroom.'"
And that's how they took over four Texas school boards: By lying, outright, with claims that "critical race theory" was coming for your kids. An outright hoax, and one that the fascist right has been promoting extravagantly despite it being entirely made up. Nobody gets taught critical race theory in schools. You wish you had a kid capable of understanding advanced law school classwork between lunch and football practice, but you don't. None of these people have kids commuting from Texas public schools to elite law colleges, bullet-resistant backpacks strapped firmly on in case some of that good Christian freedom comes their way. But they spent a hell of a lot of money on school board campaigns that usually see near-zero amounts of spending, and that money went specifically towards lying to voters.
This is what distinguishes fascism and similar authoritarian movements from democratic ones: a reliance on known-false propaganda for political gain. Not "the occasional use of," but an adaptation of hoaxes as a primary means of winning and keeping power.
There's another element of fascism that is particularly distinctive, and it quickly reared up as the Patriot Mobile-purchased school boards began clarifying what, in their conservative Christian minds, the word "woke" was referring to. "Woke," as it turns out, means having even the barest shred of tolerance for LGBT students.
The agenda of the "Patriot Mobile" school boards has been to ban discussions of race and to hurt non-straight students as much as possible, as soon as possible. Their enemies turn out to be the same enemies that past fascist movements have focused on, and go figure:
"[T]his week at a tense, eight-hour school board meeting, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District’s board of trustees voted 4-3 to implement a far-reaching set of policies that restrict how teachers can discuss race and gender. The new policies also limit the rights of transgender and nonbinary students to use bathrooms and pronouns that correspond with their genders. And the board made it easier for parents to ban library books dealing with sexuality."
What's the point of all that? There isn't one, other than to enforce prejudices of the far-right as the new status quo. The once-slaveholding state of Texas won't be abiding classroom discussions of how racism might have played a role in everything that happened afterwards, and the little tin-pot dictators installed on Texas school boards cannot possibly abide a student identifying as a boy if Patriot Mobile, LLC, believes them to be a girl.
There is, you will note, not a bit of Jesus in any of this stuff. It's just the usual laundry list of far-right enemies, period. Children of the white race must not be exposed to possible sad feelings upon learning about the more unpleasant aspects of their glorious nation; homosexuality shall not be acknowledged, much less tolerated.
There ain't no Patriot Mobile School Boards who have made it their mission to make sure none of their students go hungry or that none of their classrooms get turned into horrific murder scenes because some patriot wielding war weapons wandered from Texas streets into a Texas school. There's no turn the other cheek with this crowd.
Instead they're (1 banning books, (2 prohibiting classroom discussions of racism, and (3 demanding that LGBT students not be recognized at all. Based, in large part, on outrages they completely made up in order to demonize their targets.
There you go, there's your American fascist movement. NBC's consulted expert correctly pins it as Christian Dominionism, a movement that believes it has a duty to capture and remake America into a purely Christian, purely far-right autocratic state, but the movement is "Christian" only in the sense that German Naziism was "Christian." It's a cultish caricature of mainstream Christianity, one more obsessed with symbolism and public displays and, again, hating your neighbor good and hard for the sake of doing as much damage to them as possible. It's been increasingly dropping even the pretenses of religious belief to instead focus on secular culture battles.
Which is how you get Patriot Mobile advertising itself with cutouts of a slim and trim, glisteningly sweaty Donald Trump preparing to fire 30-odd rounds towards an unseen movement enemy. Ain't no loaves and fishes crap anywhere near this brand of nationalism.
As I said, it's an informative read. A fascist movement spent just a little money to turn four school boards into tools of its agenda, and its agenda consists of promoting hoaxes that target movement enemies and create justifications for retaliating against them.
In this case, schoolchildren they don't like and any teachers suspected of supporting them. Books explaining human sexuality. And anyone who isn't Christian. Those are the targets, and nobody's even pretending otherwise.
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