Nativism Watch

Nativists in Austin, TX reaffirm grassroots failures and bigotry

Imagine2050 Staff • Apr 01, 2015

On March 27, less than three dozen far-right activists met at the Texas State Capitol for a “Rise Up America Rally.” The event, part of a larger nationwide protest effort organized by Overpasses for America and Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), took place over two days. Each day addressed a particular topic of interest to movements of organized bigotry. “We will have speakers on Friday with the focus on Sharia Law and Saturday focusing on Closing the border,” the event’s official Facebook page declared.

Both of these topics are often used as platforms for the demonization of Muslim and immigrant communities. And it’s our educated guess that plenty of hateful rhetoric was spewed at the rally, given the speakers and organizations involved. With the participation of groups and individuals ranging from a noted anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and representatives from conservative new media outlets to border vigilante groups and key organizations within the organized anti-immigrant movement, last weekend’s rally in Austin exemplifies the willingness of the nativist right to coordinate with extreme outside of the media spotlight in Washington, D.C.

The following groups and individuals participated in last weekend’s event, though they were not able to draw much of a crowd:

  • NumbersUSA: As the primary force mobilizing the anti-immigrant movement’s base, NumbersUSA has positioned itself as one of the country’s most significant anti-immigrant groups since its founding in 1996. The NumbersUSA name and logo appear on a variety of promotional materials for last weekend’s event. The group previously coordinated with Overpasses for America and ALIPAC as a member organization of the National Illegal Immigration Protest Coalition during demonstrations last year.
  • John Guandolo: Guandolo is a disgraced former FBI agent who crisscrosses the country speaking to far-Right groups and asserting that Muslim organizations are actively infiltrating multiple levels of the U.S. government. Earlier this month, Guandolo spoke at an event organized by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney and claimed the purpose of Muslim student groups on college campuses is to “recruit jihadis.” Guandolo also assisted the virulently anti-Muslim organization ACT! for America in creating its dangerous and irresponsible website, “The Thin Blue Line Project,” for law enforcement officials.
  • Brandon Darby: Darby is the Managing Editor of Breitbart Texas. He became a hero to many on the far-Right after working as an informant for the FBI. Over the course of more than a year, Darby worked to manufacture a terrorist plot resulting in the arrest of two activists during the 2008 Republican National Convention. Darby’s work with the federal government attracted the attention of conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart who introduced Darby to a new world of influence within conservative and far-Right circles. In his position at Breitbart News today, Darby maintains close connections to immigration enforcement officials and regularly publishes leaked information regarding enforcement policies.
  • The John Birch Society: Founded in 1958, JBS is one of the country’s oldest progenitors of conspiracy theories on the far-right. During the latter half of the 20th century JBS successfully codified enthocentric and white nationalist beliefs within sectors of political conservatism. In contemporary times, the group and its representatives have lent support to explicitly anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim causes and events. Promotional materials for last weekend’s rally indicate speaker David Carter has been a JBS member since 1961.
  • Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. and the Texas Border Volunteers: These two border vigilante groups grew out of the Minutemen movement in the early 2000s. The movement and its participants have been responsible for countless acts of harassment and horrific violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. Such acts include the brutal murder of a nine-year-old girl and her father by Shawna Forde as well as neo-Nazi minutemen activist JT Ready’s murder of his girlfriend’s family – including a fifteen-month-old girl – before killing himself. Rally speakers David Carter and Dave Heckert were presented as being members of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. and Texas Border Volunteers, respectively.
  • III% United Patriots of Texas: Another sponsor of last weekend’s rally, the Three Percenter movement is a radical subculture within the larger anti-government “Patriot” movement. Self-described Three Percenters believe they continue the legacy of resistance to tyranny established during the American Revolutionary War.
  • Dorrie O’Brien: O’Brien is a notable anti-Muslim activist based in Texas. She has been a Texas state co-director for ACT! for America and is the author of 500+ Islamic Words You Should Know: An Encyclopedia of Islam. ACT! President and Founder Brigitte Gabriel lauded O’Brien’s work during the group’s 2013 national conference. While speaking to a Tea Party group in September 2013, O’Brien characterized all Muslims as extremists because “Islam itself, as far as I’m concerned, is a poisoned well.” One protester’s sign photographed during the rally complemented O’Brien’s virulently anti-Muslim rhetoric. It simply read, “Muslim = Islam = Sharia = Jihad = Satan.”

Last October at Imagine 2050, we created an interactive map evidencing how unsuccessful ALIPAC and Overpasses for America’s previous efforts at mobilizing mass protests across the country were. By nearly any metric, last weekend’s protests were equally underwhelming.

In Austin, Texas, however, they succeeded in one area: eliminating any doubt that their movement is principally motivated by bigotry and populated by extremists.

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