Texas GOP Leaders Won’t Criticize Antisemites, Nazis

What does “tolerate” mean?

Matt Rinaldi speaks at the Texas Republican executive committee (Screenshot via Texas Republican Party)

The Texas Republican Party can’t even bring itself to denounce Nazis anymore.

On Dec. 2, the State Republican Executive Committee voted 32-29 to reject the inclusion of language in a resolution supporting Israel that read, “the Republican Party will have no association whatsoever with any individual or organization that is known to espouse anti-Semitism, pro-Nazi sympathies, or Holocaust denial.”

Texas Republican Party Chair Matt Rinaldi argued against including the language during a tense debate before the vote, questioning what it means to “tolerate” Nazis and antisemites. “If a group allows them to speak, if a group allows them to exist,” Rinaldi said, referring to his own party, “what, what – what is ‘tolerate’? Um, I don’t know that.”

Several Republicans agreed that "tolerate" is a difficult word to define. Others pushed back. “I think we all know what tolerate means,” said committee member Christin Bentley. “If you’re tolerating something – like antisemitism, Holocaust denial, Nazis, white supremacism – the action that you take is to look away…. It may be emotional and a hard decision to make. But when you tolerate something, you’re ignoring it and you are choosing to look away.”

Others suggested that rejecting antisemitism and white supremacy has Leftist overtones and that by approving the language Republicans would be doing the work of their enemies. “To add this additional language is very hurtful as you go down the road,” said Dan Tully. “It could put you on a slippery slope.”

The origin of the debate over how closely to partner with antisemites and fascists dates to a secret meeting captured by the Texas Tribune’s Robert Downen. On Oct. 6, Downen staked out the headquarters of far right Republican strategist Jonathan Stickland and learned that he had met for six hours with Nick Fuentes, an admirer of Adolf Hitler who has called for a holy war against Jews. The subsequent uproar polarized Texas Republicans and brought unwelcome attention to Tim Dunn, Stickland’s boss and a preeminent donor to Republican causes.

The SREC vote was extreme enough to bring together two unlikely bedfellows: Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who have bitterly criticized one another for six months now. “Despicable,” Phelan said in a statement. “The Texas GOP/SREC can’t even bring themselves to denounce neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers or cut ties with their top donor [Tim Dunn] who brought them to the dance.” Patrick said the failure to approve the language was totally unacceptable. “This language should have been adopted, because I know that is our position as a Party,” he said. “I am confident that the SREC will correct this at their next meeting.”

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