In Saturday's Texans Against Communism event, part of a Latinos for Trump conference held in The Woodlands, a lead-off speaker questioned the genders of both Barack and Michelle Obama, while another quoted a reading from the Proud Boys (who describe themselves as "western chauvinists" but who the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as a "hate group") praising the men who created the greatest civilization and "the housewives who create the community in which we live."
Following an organized protest from the Houston United Front Against Fascism group and a Houston Press report, the weekend conference was moved from its original site at The Woodlands Financial Group training facility to the Hyatt Place in the Woodlands on Research.
The conference was held in partnership with Texans United for America, a political organization responsible for the 1776 Freedom March in Austin that featured speeches denouncing multiculturalism and immigrants and calling for armed rebellion. Scheduled speakers included New Zealand author Trevor Loudon (The Enemies Within: Communists, Socialists and Progressives in the U.S. Congress) and Joey Gibson, the founder of Patriot Prayer, a Vancouver, Oregon based right-wing political group known for their participation in violent rallies on the West Coast. On Facebook, the event appeared to be co-sponsored by Texas Patriot Network, a group who last year stormed the Islamic Society of North America conference shouting that members either needed to convert to Christianity or leave Texas. Leaked chat logs from members of the group showed that they had planned to isolate and attack conference attendees.
On Facebook, the Texans United For America dropped all pretense of not being affiliated with TPN, and announced that they would be partners in the event (both groups’ official Facebook pages were always linked on the event page). Multiple photos on the event page show people using the OK hand symbol now associated with white supremacy.
A video of Saturday's speakers shows what appears to be a sparsely-attended gathering. The first speaker to take the stage in the scantly-filled room of around 20 people was Marvina Case, the vice president of Texans United for America and one of the 6 percent of black women who voted for Donald Trump. She opened with grotesque remarks about Barack and Michelle Obama where she questioned both of their genders.
“It’s nice to have a man in the White House again,” said Case. “We didn’t have one for eight years. I don’t believe he was a man. As for the woman, all I’m going to say is that I am 6’4” and I have the proportions of a woman. No woman has shoulders like that. There’s nothing feminine about that person. Maybe a hermaphrodite. Maybe a genetic mutation. I don’t care if they ban me. That is what I love about the president. He’s honest.”
Case spent most of her brief time wallowing in the joy of wearing Trump gear to Whole Foods, and denying that racial inequality exists in America because she personally is well-off.
“How am I oppressed?” said Case. “I fall in the top 3 percent of income earners and have three degrees. I think I’m doing pretty goddamn well.”
She was followed by Enrique Tarrio, who was another good example of the incestuous relationship many of these far-right groups have. Not only is he the current head of the Proud Boys, a group whose members regularly engage in white nationalist memes, he is also the Florida state director of Latinos for Trump. When I originally spoke to Latinos for Trump vice president Bianca Gracia, she denied that there was any connection between them and the alt-right. That’s simply false. Latinos for Trump president Marco Gutierrez openly called on Proud Boys and Three-Percenters (a radical anti-immigration militia) on Twitter to come out to screenings of Dinesh D’souza’s film Death of a Nation last year. All of these groups, from Latinos for Trump to Proud Boys to Texas Patriot Network, operate in the same rally-sphere with aligned if not perfectly congruent goals.
Tarrio continued Case’s tone in his speech, resorting to specious logic and slurs for disabled people to make his point against progressivism as well as accusing a sitting congresswoman of treason.
“We’re here to discuss communism,” said Tarrio. “It’s such a beautiful concept. No man left behind. All equals. No hunger. No disease. My family was sold this lie, but my family was never raised to be a bunch of retards. They were never ignorant to the dangers of socialism and communism. My grandfather fled the shithole known as Cuba 50 years ago. They came to this county knowing the liberties they provided. They opened business. They didn’t take handouts. They didn’t rely on nobody but themselves. This is why it infuriates me when tone-deaf politicians like AOC [U. S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)] promote socialism. Her and her cronies preach the gospel of socialism without ever having lived it. I’m going to call it what it is: treasonous.”
Tarrio descended further and further into nonsense as he went on. He claimed that his family had been on the wrong end of a communist firing squad, and somehow that made it ridiculous when “some 500 pounds blue-haired wildebeest tells you how they’re oppressed.” As Case apparently believes that racism is over so long as she has money, Tarrio denies that sexism is a problem because members of his family were murdered by a dictator half a century ago.
Bizarrely, Tarrio read a long passage from Pat Buchanan’s book The Death of the West. The reading reinforced the connections between white nationalism and the group, as the book is basically a long explanation about how Asian, African, and Latin countries are outbreeding white Christians into genocide. The passage is chilling in its historical inaccuracy and blatant racism.
“As fair-minded and mostly Christian folks, they concede that there is truth in the indictment of America's past. Our fathers did participate in slavery. We did practice segregation. Our treatment of the
Indians was not what one should have expected of people to whom the Sermon on the Mount was divine command. But, having internalized a guilt that gnaws at their souls, these Republicans, in their
lifelong quest for absolution, are easy prey for confidence men like [Jesse] Jackson and [Al] Sharpton who run the Big Sting.
The truth? In the story of slavery and the slave trade, Western Man was among the many villains, but Western Man was also the only hero. For the West did not invent slavery, but it alone abolished slavery. Had it not been for the West, African rulers would still be trafficking in the flesh of their kinsmen. Slaves, after all, were the leading cash crop of the friends of Mansa Musa. In Mauritania and Sudan today, slavery has returned, to the deafening silence of intellectuals who have built careers on the moral shakedown of America and the West. America was a segregated society, but in no other nation do people enjoy greater freedom, opportunity, and prosperity than here in the United States.
The time for apologies is past. But if Middle America believes that capitulations and reparations will buy peace in our time, it deludes itself. If there were no more demands, the race racketeers would have to find a new line of work. But as long as the silent majority keeps acceding to their demands, they will keep on making them. Time to just say no.”
Tarrio ended with a toast from the Proud Boys manifesto that dripped with sexism.
“A toast to the greatest civilization on earth and the men who built it,” he said. “And to the housewives who create the community in which we live."
Next up was Joey Gibson. Patriot Prayer doesn’t have the national presence that the Proud Boys do, despite the two groups often being involved in the same events and Gibson’s failed run for the United States Senate from Oregon. Though Patriot Prayer attracts a lot of white supremacists, the organization itself is careful not to espouse such sentiments themselves. However, veteran reporter Robert Evans, who has extensively covered Gibson back to his appearance at the 2016 Republic National Convention, says he thinks "it's fair to call them fascists, and I think they're lying when they claim not to be." Gibson's appearances often serve as dangerous gateways to right-wing extremism.
There was little quote- worthy in his talk, By his own admission Gibson has a $3,000 bounty for anyone who can claim he personally has participated in hate speech, a bounty I suspect will go unclaimed. Partially because Gibson, like his hero Donald Trump, is a notorious welsher who doesn’t pay people what they are owed and partially because Gibson is extremely careful to never be the one saying the awful things.
He’s not a great speaker unless compared to people like Tarrio and Cave who can’t even talk for ten minutes without busting out slurs and juvenile gender cracks. Truth be told, Gibson rarely rises above the level of a street preacher on a borrowed sound system outside of a Planned Parenthood center. His message is purposely vague, allowing various right-wing ideologues to feel he is in agreement with all of them at the same time.
“To push for the communist agenda you need to make people victims,” said Gibson. “You need to make them feel like trash, and that they need to be taken care of. They can’t be independent so they have to beg for help from people above them.”
His speech was long on the empowerment of people through God and a condemnation of the hate and fear that he says the left uses in street battles. He punctuated his point with violent footage from rallies, assuring everyone in attendance that what they were always seeing was the left out of control and violent where he was simply there to speak and exist as an example of free speech and God’s love.
This is a purposeful misdirection. He highlights the various protests at Berkeley that indeed turned violent and some of which his armed instigators were definitely a part of. He mentions how the protests rose against former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, painting it as an attempt to silence a gay Republican from his free speech. The truth is, Yiannopoulos had a reputation for attempting to out trans students on campus in hopes of sending his vast online hate mob against them and that was a primary reason for the response.
That is Gibson’s trick, and he uses it constantly. He’ll laud himself for his tolerance by letting a trans woman speak, neglecting to mention that the one in question, Amber Gwen Cummings, is a noted white nationalist. He trots out his Japanese heritage and the diversity that exists within his group as a shield, but fails to take responsibility for the people from racist conclaves like Daily Stormer and Idenity Evropa that attend most of his rallies. He’ll call for Patriot Prayer to stand down at an event like Unite the Right, but will still provide security for events by the white nationalist group Hell Shaking Street Preachers.
There’s some evidence that things are getting worse inside Patriot Prayer despite Gibson’s constant refrain that he is only there to counter the violent street presence of the left (he operates mostly in the liberal Portland, Oregon, but is based in the more conservative Vancouver). Many of his members wear shirts extolling Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, famous for throwing suspected communists outside of helicopters. I received an email after my first story on the conference offering me a free helicopter ride.
Gibson’s events attract violent, angry people. Jeremy Christian, who went on a racially-motivated knife attack in Portland, was an avid attendee at Patriot Prayer rallies. Gibson stated that he was not responsible and could not control people who came to his events, but it seems like he is not even trying. He finally asked noted neo-Nazi Raul Gonzales, who showed up with swastikas on, to stop coming. However, it appears he did so only because it might “give us a bad name.”
Gibson gets away with this trick because national news tends to take him at his word whereas Oregon news outlets have followed his increasingly violent events over the last two years and see the pattern of mayhem. At events like Texans Against Communism, he is all about God’s love and free speech. In the streets Patriot Prayer is usually a different story.
“They hate when you refuse to use their language.,” said Gibson. “If you go out there and you just be who you are… it’s like Trump. That’s why they hate him. Because he won’t bend the knee. He’s going to do what he believes to be true.”
Gibson told the Houston crowd time and time again that antifa was running wild in the streets without any pushback from the police when there is substantial evidence from text messages that the police are actively aiding Patriot Prayer against counter-protesters. He misdirects and always keeps his own hands clean.
The problem behind the original setting of Texans Against Communism was the air of legitimacy a sanctified gathering of this confederacy was lent by tacit endorsement of Woodlands community leaders. At each attempt for comment representatives were able to deny their connection to white supremacy and be outraged at such a suggestion. That’s what Joey Gibson exists for. Patriot Prayer provides an umbrella that unites these groups who couch “freedom” as virulent opposition to immigration, gender and sex minorities, women, liberalism, and others. Gibson told them that all of that in vague, empowering terms that recast their views as liberty and faith.
You can watch the event in its entirety below.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.