Christian Watson Criticizes Critical Race Theory

When Christian Watson, spokesperson for Color Us United, came to Trinity University to talk about critical race theory (CRT), it was evident that the event would be controversial. Color Us United is an organization that advocates for a “race-blind America.”  The audience gathered in Chapman Great Hall was composed of Young Conservatives of Texas (YCT) members, a table of liberal students, and a handful of other students interested in hearing Watson’s take on CRT. When asked how he decided to come to Trinity, he replied, “It wasn’t hard at all. I was invited, and I came.” 

Watson was raised by a liberal single mother, but as he grew older, he was exposed to alternative perspectives and started attending seminars that sparked his interest. When asked how he became interested in critical race theory, Watson explained that as an African American man, he interacted with CRT in his personal life and tended to have conversations about it, which led to “a deeper intellectual interest.”  Watson says he approaches his viewpoints from the perspective of  “philosophy, reason, and debate.”

Watson’s thesis is that the so-called diversity that is popular in America does not reflect true diversity. Today’s idea of diversity is limited to identity, a superficial way to sum up an individual. Judging someone simply on external criteria, as many institutions are prone to do for diversity action programs, ultimately gives an incomplete picture of a nuanced human being. He explained that diversity is naturally all around us, in our skills, abilities, personal beliefs, and interests. “Everyone has unique abilities and certain gifts which they must identify.” The problem is that society tries to push people away from their natural gifts and make them conform to a stereotype of what they’re supposed to be and how they’re supposed to behave. Watson concluded with a statement echoing the transcendentalists of time gone by: “Knowing yourself is the most important tool that you could possibly have in this life.”  

After he finished his lecture, a question and answer session followed. As mentioned before, a group of liberal students came to question him. They asked him about the nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, to which he replied that Biden nominated her based on race alone, rather than qualification, a perfect subversion of how it should be. When questioned about police brutality against African Americans, Watson countered, “What police brutality?” He said that the idea of systematic racism in the police force was a myth contrived by the leftist media and that the police were inherently good people. Another question came up about intentional inclusivity in the workplace, and he said it was absolutely not a good idea; people should be hired based on abilities rather than identity. This all goes back to the concept of the color-blind system Watson promotes, to ultimately treat everyone equally. 

Christian Watson’s key takeaway is to judge people based on their ideas and what they have to offer, rather than based on external criteria, a lesson that the world desperately needs to hear. His personal experience as an African American in a world distorted by critical race theory drives home the true significance of his message. Watson was an excellent speaker, convicted in his beliefs, which he explained clearly and concisely. Christian Watson delivered a refreshing and thought-provoking critique of critical race theory to the Trinity University students who gathered to hear him and his ideas.

Cover photo taken by Ellis Jacoby.

Chinese Infiltration of the Lone Star State

China’s growing influence in the US is noticeable to anyone who doesn’t ignore it, but what is even more concerning is China’s growing influence in our very own state of Texas.

Sun Guangxin, a Chinese billionaire connected to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), planned to build a wind farm on the 15,000 acres he owns in Val Verde County. In total Sun owns more than 144,000 acres of land, all of which is not only near the Texas border, but also Laughlin air force base. 

In June 2021, Governor Abbott signed the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act which prevented Sun, and anyone else connected to countries like China, Russia, Iran, or North Korea, from building critical infrastructure in Texas. However, the law does not do enough to protect Texas from foreign adversaries who use their financial resources to infiltrate Texas’ borders. Despite Abbot blocking Sun from building his wind farm, he still owns the land and could use it for other malignant purposes. 

Texas leads the nation in foreign-owned land with 4.4 million acres, which is more by far than any other state. Six states actually ban foreign ownership of farmland, but Texas still allows it. In Houston, Chinese investors are buying up homes not to live in the US, but to make money off Americans by renting out the properties.

Sun is not the only businessman or business connected to the CCP who is currently operating in Texas. There are many, and each one represents a potential national security risk to not only the Lone Star state, but to the country. 

DJI Technology Co. Ltd, a Hong Kong-based drone manufacturing company, has been under heavy scrutiny recently for the security risks its drones pose due to the company’s closeness to the CCP. China Chengtong Holdings Group Ltd, a state-owned enterprise, described DJI as China’s leading company that “adheres to the standard of Xi Jinping’s socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.”

DJI has sold its wares to many companies, local agencies, and even Federal agencies. During the tail-end of the Trump Administration, Washington made it a priority to mitigate the dangers that Chinese drones pose in the US. The U.S. Commerce Department added DJI to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist in December 2020, and in January 2021 Trump signed an executive order prioritizing their removal from service. 

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office operates four DJI drones as of 2018, according to data compiled by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College. Across Texas 42 police departments use a total of 73 DJI drones.  

In addition to the business sector in Texas, the CCP has also tried to infiltrate our education system. In one of the CCP’s boldest moves in Texas, it attempted to use a Hong Kong foundation to fund the University of Texas’ China Public Policy Center (CPPC). 

The Center opened in Aug. 2018 and was tasked with making “fresh and enduring contributions to the study of China-related policy topics while advancing U.S.-China relations and Texas-China relations.” Former foreign service officer David Firestein, who proposed that the Hong Kong-based foundation China United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) funds the Center, currently leads the CPPC. The CUSEF’s leader is Tung Chee-hwa who is vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a united front organisation. United front groups are the primary agents used by the CCP for foreign influence operations, with hundreds of United Front and United Front linked groups operating in the US.

Luckily Senator Ted Cruz and the White House pressured UT not to accept the funding, but the fact that a major state university was about to fund a Chinese research institution using a CCP front organization’s money shows how much influence China has already seized in the US and in Texas.

Some dramatic acts were taken by the Trump administration to combat Chinese intelligence operations in the US. The Chinese consulate in Houston was a hotbed for spies and the theft of intellectual property by CCP agents before Trump closed it down in July 2020. This action led to frenzied scenes of consulate workers burning huge amounts of classified documents to prevent the US from getting access to them. 

Policymakers in Austin and Washington, DC must make combatting Chinese influence in America a priority, especially as China continues to increase its aggressive threats towards Taiwan, and continues to oppress Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong. Congressman Chip Roy has been vocal about this issue, and his Securing America’s Land from Foreign Interference Act would have prevented members of the CCP from buying US farmland. Even these efforts, had they been successful, would not be enough. Most of the influence China has gained in the US has been indirect through front organizations. The CCP now has allies in every layer of the US echelons of power. We must remain vigilant and on the offensive against the influence they have accrued. 

We welcomed Chinese capital into the US for decades for cheaper and cheaper trinkets made with Chinese labor, all in the hope that as a developed nation it would have to democratize. We bet wrong, and it is time to face that fact and reverse course before it is too late. We must begin decoupling, limiting Chinese investments coming into America, and bring manufacturing back from China to the US. China is now a threat to the US and we must treat it as such. Hopefully the current administration will have the backbone to do so, and we must call on our government to protect American citizens and infrastructure from foreign dangers. 

CCP Delenda Est

Texas Heartbeat Bill Is Here to Stay

In a victory for Pro-Life groups, the Supreme Court of the United States did not strike down Texas’ Heartbeat Act (SB 8) last week. The law limits abortions to before the first heartbeat is detected, which can occur as early as six weeks. While the law allows for abortion in cases when the mother’s life is in danger, it bans nearly all abortions, since 85-90% of abortions in Texas happen after the sixth week of pregnancy.

13 other states have tried to pass similar laws, but all were struck down. The new Texas law is unique because instead of putting the enforcement mechanism in the hands of the state, it instead hands it to private citizens. Anyone can now sue abortition providers if they perform an aborition after a heartbeat is detected. The woman who elects abortion is never under the danger of a lawsuit, only the abortion provider, as the law states “this … may not be construed to authorize the initiation of a cause of action against or the prosecution of a woman on whom an abortion is performed.”

The vote in the Supreme Court was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the court’s three liberal members in dissent. The majority opinion was unsigned, and stated that an injunction would not be issued for the law due to the abortion providers who challenged the law not answering the “complex and novel antecedent procedural questions” the law raised. The majority states that their decision “is not based on any conclusion about the constitutionality of Texas’s law, and in no way limits other procedurally proper challenges to the Texas law.”

Each dissenting justice filed his or her own opinion, either asking for a return to status quo ante (before the law went into effect) and to kick it back down to the lower courts to decide in the case of Roberts, or rejecting the majority’s view on the germaness of the unique procedural mechanism in the law. 

In Texas SB 8 has already caused a reaction from abortion providers. Three of the four major aborbition clinics in San Antonio have ceased providing aborbitions, and across the state others are following suit rather than risk lawsuits. 

The Court’s decision will likely lead other Republican-controlled states to try to pass similar laws, though the Biden Administration is trying to make sure that doesn’t happen. President Biden called the law an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights,” and that the decision required an “immediate response.” The Justice Department launched a lawsuit against Texas on Thurs.,  in an attempt to try and strike down the law, but it remains to be seen how successful it will be after the Supreme Court’s first ruling. 

The Darsch Report: July 26 to August 1

Bexar County Mental Health

On Mon. July 26, Bexar County officials announced that a pilot program that brings mental health professionals together with Bexar County sheriff’s deputies will expand less than a year after its formation.

    In October, the Bexar County Commissioner’s Office allocated $1.5 million toward the Specialized Multidisciplinary Alternate Response Team (SMART). Under SMART, dispatchers who identify a mental health call send a clinician and trained paramedic to the scene. Deputies will respond to the scene if they’re needed, but the goal is to keep people suffering from mental health crises out of jail.

Initially, the group was operating on a limited basis, but they will now operate for longer hours after refining the process.

    Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar stated that the program has “surpassed expectations” and that “working with our other partners, it just fell together.”

The full briefing can be watched here.

Texas Bans Mask Mandates

    On Thurs., July 29, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed an executive order prohibiting local governments and state agencies from mandating vaccines, saying that protection against the virus should be a matter of personal responsibility, not forced by a government mandate.

    “To further ensure that no governmental entity can mandate masks, the following requirement shall continue to apply: No governmental entity, including a county, city, school district, and public health authority, and no governmental official may require any person to wear a face-covering or to mandate that other person wear a covering,” the executive order read.

    Local government entities that institute mask mandates may be fined up to $1,000.

    The order also specifies that government entities cannot “compel any individual to receive a COVID-19 vaccine administered under an emergency use authorization.”

Governmental agencies, public entities, and private entities that receive public funding cannot require people to provide proof of vaccination as a condition of receiving services.

The order, however, does not stop nursing homes or living facilities from requiring residents to be inoculated.

Abbott defended the move in a statement, arguing, “Today’s executive order will provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State’s continued fight against COVID-19. The new Executive Order emphasizes that the path forward relies on personal responsibility rather than government mandates.”

Biden, Congress Allow Eviction Moratorium to Lapse

A nationwide moratorium on residential evictions expired on Saturday, July 31, after a last-minute effort by the Biden administration to win an extension failed, putting hundreds of thousands of tenants at risk of losing shelter, while tens of billions in federal funding intended to pay their back rent sit untapped.

    Unable to fight the Supreme Court on further extending the moratorium, the Biden Administration gave the responsibility to Congress on Thursday. However, after an unsuccessful rally by Democrats on Friday, the House of Representatives went into Recess and could not draft any quick legislation.

    The Senate, meanwhile, has been focusing its efforts on finishing the bipartisan infrastructure plan.

    Efforts to bring relief to renters and homeowners have been further struggling. To date, only $3 billion of the $47 billion Emergency Rental Assistance program has been disbursed.

“Really, we only learned about this yesterday,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who had publicly and privately urged senior Biden Administration officials to deal with the problem themselves.

Many Democrats are still voicing anger and frustration, though, with Democratic leadership.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Sunday, Aug. 1, that Democrats have to “call a spade a spade” after the deadline expired.

“We cannot in good faith blame the Republican Party when House Democrats have a majority,” Ocasio-Cortez said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), the chair of the Financial Services Committee, said Saturday on CNN: “We thought that the White House was in charge.”

“We are only hours away from a fully preventable housing crisis,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a floor speech in a rare Saturday session as senators labored over an infrastructure package.

“We have the tools, and we have the funding,” Warren said. “What we need is the time.”

US Economy

The stock market did not do well over the past week. The Dow Jones decreased to 34,935.47 on Friday, decreasing by -126.08 points, or -0.36 percent over its July 23 close of 35,061.55. The S&P 500 increased by -16.53 points or -0.37 percent on Friday. In addition, the Nasdaq decreased on Friday by -1.11 percent.

DOJ vs. Texas

    The U.S. Justice Department, on Friday, July 30, filed a lawsuit against Texas and Gov. Greg Abbott over an order the Republican governor signed barring ground transportation of migrants who could be carrying COVID-19.  

In a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Western District in El Paso, the Justice Department said Abbott’s order interferes with the federal government’s ability to deal with immigration.

“In our constitutional system, a State has no right to regulate the federal government’s operations,” the DOJ argued in a motion asking the judge to block Abbott’s order, adding “this restriction on the transportation of noncitizens would severely disrupt federal immigration operations.”

Governor Abbott argued that the order was necessary to counter the rise in illegal immigration under the Biden administration and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 across the US Southern border, going so far as to accuse the Biden administration of being complicit in the spread of COVID-19 across the southern border.

“The Biden administration is knowingly admitting hundreds of thousands of unauthorized migrants, many of whom the federal government knows full well have COVID-19,” Abbott said in response to Garland’s lawsuit. 

He also said he would not back down because his “duty remains to the people of Texas, and [he has] no intention of abdicating that.”

San Antonio Urgent Care Reaching Capacity

In San Antonio, both hospitals and local clinics are feeling the effects of increasing COVID-19 cases, with some local urgent care clinics reaching near capacity.

    “We are up about 30% in terms of patient visits from the last week of June, first week of July,” said Dr. David Gude, Texas MedClinic chief operating officer, and practicing physician.

Gude said they are seeing more COVID-19 patients, more COVID-19 testing, and even an increase in vaccinations.

The wait times on their website show just how busy they are.

“We’ve never let go of social distancing. So we either get people into an exam room, or if we’re full, we may ask them to wait in the car, or we may ask them to come back in an hour so,” Gude said.

Gude said staff members are also feeling the pressure. According to Gude, one staff member recently told him it felt like he is “going through the stages of grief right now.”

“He can’t believe that we’re back at the point that we were at. We were just at this point a few months ago and certainly last year,” Gude said.

IRS Grants Tax-Exempt Status to Christians Engaged

On July 7, 2021, Christians Engaged released a statement that the IRS had reversed its decision not to grant the organization 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. On May 18, 2021, the IRS denied Christians Engaged nonprofit status because “the bible [sic] teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.” 

Christians Engaged is an organization that “provides nonpartisan religious and civic education, focusing on encouraging and educating Christians to be civically engaged as a part of their religious practice,” according to a statement released by First Liberty, which appealed to the IRS on behalf of Christians Engaged. 

501(c)(3) organizations are required not to be affiliated with any political party or overtly political. They cannot urge their members to support or oppose legislation, nor can they use a substantial portion of their funds for lobbying purposes. 501(c)(3) organizations also cannot endorse or publicly oppose any political candidate. However, according to the IRS guidelines, 501(c)(3), nonprofits can take a stand on divisive issues, so long as they do not use their stance on particular issues to endorse or oppose candidates.

In May, Christians Engaged was denied 501(c)(3) status because it allegedly “instruct[s] individuals on issues that are prominent in political campaigns and instruct them in what the Bible says about the issue and how they should vote. These issues include the sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, and biblical justice,” according to a letter sent to Christians Engaged from the IRS. The IRS claimed that these issues are “associated with political party platforms.” Thus Christians Engaged is ineligible for nonprofit tax status. 

However, the IRS reversed its decision in July after First Liberty appealed on behalf of Christians Engaged. 

In a statement thanking First Liberty and various congressmen and senators who supported Christians Engaged, founder Bunni Pounds said that “This is a victory not only for Christians Engaged but for every Christian organization around America that teaches the Bible and cares about the future of our great nation.”

Constitutional Carry Passes Texas House

On April 15 at 5:46 pm, Constitutional Carry passed the Texas House of Representatives. After nearly eight hours of debate, HB 1927 by Matt Schafer passed in a record vote of 84 to 56. The vote was mostly along party lines, though some Democrats voted in favor. The bill has yet to pass in the Senate.

HB 1927 creates what is known as “Constitutional carry” or “permitless carry” by allowing gun owners over the age of 21, who are not otherwise prohibited, to carry the weapons they are already legally allowed to own. Constitutional carry is based on the part of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution stating that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Opponents of the bill claim that it is far too extreme and that it would cause more shootings by allowing potentially unstable individuals to carry firearms.

House members proposed and discussed 21 amendments on the bill, with proponents attempting to perfect the bill while opponents tried to weaken it. Democrats in the House raised over a dozen points of order on these amendments in a coordinated attempt to delay the passage of the bill. A point of order is a claim that someone has broken a rule of the House, and it requires house business to pause so the matter can be investigated.

Chip Roy: Texas’s Rising Star

With the 2020 election coming to a close and the 2021 Texas legislative session beginning, conservatives have begun reflecting on the past year’s election results. One thing is clear: Chip Roy is something special. Representing the 21st congressional district, considered a toss-up going into election night, he easily won by seven points even while his competitor Wendy Davis outspent him $10.3 million to $5 million. Chip Roy was able to win a changing, increasingly suburban district that Republicans have struggled to stay relevant in. A fiscal and social conservative hawk, he was able to articulate a conservative message that appealed to swing voters. Of a boring, tame, and weak Texas congressional delegation, he is the shining star for conservatives. 

This begs the question: what is next for Congressman Chip Roy? With a law degree from the University of Texas, his conservative voting record, and previous experience in the Attorney General’s office, he is a strong candidate to replace Ken Paxton — who has shown himself to be a legal (and moral) liability to the conservative movement as a revolving door into and out of the courtroom. 

His conservative voting record makes him a conservative dark horse to take on Governor Greg Abbott, who is more and more at war with his party’s conservative base. Greg Abbott, originally embraced by Texas conservatives for suing President Obama, has gone on to infuriate conservatives by endorsing moderates in the 2020 Republican Primary Runoff. Additionally, Abbott has flip-flopped on his stance on the coronavirus pandemic, initially supporting similar lockdown measures being pushed by the left and Democratic governors like Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo, and now is saying he does not plan on enforcing another statewide lockdown.

Abbott’s flip-flopping stance contrasts with Chip Roy, who has been a staunch supporter of reopening the economy and making sure lockdowns and mandates do not exceed their constitutional parameters or unnecessarily harm the economy and local businesses. With the current virus, we need leaders who will not exceed their own powers and make sure that actions taken during disasters like this do not cause more harm than good.

Winning either of these races would also bring younger and fresher faces to either position. If elected, Chip Roy, 48 years old, would not only be the first Gen Xer to hold the Attorney Generalship or Governorship in Texas, but would also be a decade or more younger than the incumbents.

Texans right now are looking for a conservative leader that can take them through this next decade. A leader with a fresh pair of eyes to tackle the upcoming issues and that will not buckle when put under pressure or exceed their constitutional authority when given the opportunity. Having proven himself as an attorney, a Congressman, and a firm believer in the United States and Texan constitutions, Chip Roy is that leader.

Wendy Davis: A Danger to Texas

We in CD-21 cannot afford to have someone like Wendy Davis represent us. She does not represent Texan values, and she would fight only for her personal progressive agenda.

On Nov. 3, residents of the 21st congressional district in Texas will make the choice between re-electing the incumbent, conservative Republican Chip Roy, and progressive Democrat Wendy Davis. Congressman Roy is an extraordinary conservative, one whom I have supported and admired since before his nomination in the 2018 primaries. I believe it is imperative that we re-elect Roy so that he can continue to fight for our fading liberty. As much as I think it is important to articulate why Roy is an asset, it is imperative that I explain why it would be extremely dangerous for Texas to send Davis to Washington in his place. 

Wendy Davis might be a familiar name to Texans who have paid attention to state-level politics in the past several years. Davis was a member of the Fort Worth city council from 1999-2008. After that, she held the Texas Senate seat in SD-10 from 2009-2015. Despite being involved in policy-making for fifteen years, she is really only known for two things in her political career, both of which are failures. 

Her first claim to fame occurred while she was a member of the Texas Senate. In 2013, SB5 was introduced to the Senate floor. SB5 would ban abortion after 20 weeks of gestation (which is very close to the point of viability outside of the womb). It also would require that abortion facilities maintain the same medical standards as other surgical health care facilities, and that they have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. Davis so badly wanted to keep legal the killing of viable babies that she filibustered for eleven straight hours in front of the Texas Senate, famously wearing pink tennis shoes and a catheter so she could urinate herself on the floor of the Texas Senate.

Davis broke the rules of the filibuster multiple times, so Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst called for a vote to end her filibuster so the legislature could vote on SB5. However, the crowd in the gallery and outside the chamber raised such a ruckus for two extra hours (also in violation of the rules) that the vote on the bill was successfully delayed beyond the end of the special legislative session. However, then-governor Rick Perry called a second special session where SB5 was reintroduced as HB2, and it passed less than a month after Davis’ filibuster. Despite the ultimate failure of her efforts, Davis garnered national fame for this singular act, and earned and the nickname “Abortion Barbie.”

Her second time in the spotlight was her failed gubernatorial campaign in 2014, in which all of her perceived legitimacy came from the celebrity she gained from her filibuster. She succeeded in getting the nomination of the democratic party but was beat by Greg Abbott, who was then the Texas Attorney General. Davis garnered a mere 38.9% of the vote to Abbott’s 59.3%

Davis has been out of politics for the last five years since her loss. In that time, she has busied herself by founding a nonprofit organization called Deeds Not Words. This organization seeks to get radical legislation on gender issues passed by using female members of Generation Z as its footsoldiers. The organization’s website, which uses terms like “womxn,” “menstrual equality,” and “FEMZ agenda,” makes it clear that that Deeds Not Words centers around sex-related issues. The organization holds progressive social beliefs, such as the ideas that gender is not absolute, that voter ID laws are oppressive, and that masculinity is toxic. As a perfect example of how far off the rails abortion advocacy has gone, Deeds Not Words seeks to get rid of the famed notion that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Although the organization claims that it “won’t stop until all Texans have the ability to make their own reproductive choices,” nothing has been posted in the “news” section of the site in over a year, indicating the group is not currently making waves, and little else has been posted since March.

But let’s get back to Davis’ current bid for the congressional seat in Texas’ CD-21, currently held by Congressman Chip Roy. Davis has a lot of money behind her, and she has been using much of that money to disingenuously attack Roy. If only disingenuous attacks on her rival candidate were the beginning of Davis’ historical misuse of campaign funds. During her run for governor in 2014, Davis was (rightly) accused of using campaign funds to pay for lavish living expenses in Austin. This practice is not necessarily illegal, but it is pretty scummy.

Davis also has ads of her own. In these ads, she performatively throws around the word “family” every chance she gets. “I’m running for our children and grandchildren, so they can live and love and fight for change themselves,” claims Davis in a self-promotional video she humbly titled “Amazing.” This statement is obviously ironic and somewhat darkly comical, considering that her stance on abortion means that she does not in fact want children to “live and love and fight for change themselves.” She wants parents to be able to kill their fully formed children. 

Clearly, as progressives often do, Wendy Davis is putting on a face to appeal to Texan values so she can sneak her harmful radical policies through. She avoids talking about policy, knowing that she would lose were she to tell the truth about what she wants to do to our state. Place Davis side-by-side with Roy, as was done in their debate, and you will notice how she tends to talk about lofty ideas rather than telling us how she plans on practically enacting change or paying for all the things she wants. She has shown many of her intentions, but she hides them for the most part, knowing that if Texans were aware that she is a proponent of abortion until birth she would never get elected. We in CD-21 cannot afford to have someone like her represent us. Wendy Davis does not represent Texan values, and she would fight only for her personal progressive agenda.

Bell-Metereau for SBOE? I Think Not

Bell-Metereau is an unqualified candidate for the State Board of Education in Texas.

This election cycle, Rebecca Bell-Metereau is the Democratic Candidate for the State Board of Education. Despite her candidacy, Bell-Metereau is unsuitable to the position for which she is running. In 2010 she helped run a smear campaign against her opponent Ken Mercer, which resulted in a lawsuit and settlement made by Bell-Metereau. She and Judy Jennings created a video “A True Tale From Texas,” which, according to Bell-Metereau’s apology to Mercer, “created a false impression about David Barton…to discredit our Republican Party political opponents on the State Board of Education, and those on whom they relied, by depicting their positions politically extreme and detrimental to education.” 

In the video, Jennings and Bell-Metereau stated that Barton was known for speaking at white supremacist rallies and implied that he himself is a white supremacist. This statement is false. Barton, nor any of his associates on the State Board of Education are associated with or supportive of white supremacists. 

Unfortunately, this isn’t even the beginning of why Bell-Metereau is an unsuitable candidate for the State Board of Education. In 2019, Bell-Metereau, a professor of English at Texas State University, had a question in a class quiz asking whether President Trump’s “America First” campaign platform is comparable to the principle platforms of the Ku Klux Klan. This question was a part of a quiz in response to “BlacKkKlansmen,” which is a movie about the true story of a Colorado detective who goes undercover to expose the KKK. 

In a statement to The University Star, Bell-Metereau claimed that the “quiz is simply based on the information from Politifact to see if [the students] could read an article and understand what it is saying. All I want them to do [is] be able to use fact-checking sources to determine for themselves what is true and what is not true in a film that is a biopic.” Bell-Metereau went on to say to Campus Reform in a statement that “President Trump[‘s] slogan is KKK principle” is a partially correct answer to the question.

Despite this, Bell-Metereau told The University Star that she “rarely shares her personal opinions and will instead provide facts to her students so they can make their own decisions.” Her actions and test-writing show another story. In what way is it non-biased to ask students in a quiz (for which they will receive a grade, which may affect their overall grade in the class) to say that their current president’s platform is the same as one of the principles of the KKK if they want to get the question correct? Even if this is a biased way of explaining such a thing? There are far better ways to teach students about fact-checking sources.

Bell-Metereau is an unqualified candidate for the State Board of Education. She has shown herself to be incapable of separating her political biases when teaching her own classes and has had a lawsuit filed against her for wrongfully calling a Republican opponent of hers a white supremacist in order to sway voters. She is not the kind of candidate Texas needs to oversee school curricula in our public schools. I am not formally endorsing any other candidate for the State Board of Education, but I firmly believe that Rebecca Bell-Metereau is not the best candidate, or even a good candidate. 

Illustration by Bella Peters.

An Interview with Dr. David Crockett

“It is a complicated history, but the values that it has become soaked in, in terms of how the culture perceives it, I think are certainly worthy values to try to emulate.”

Do you think it’s important to remember the Battle of the Alamo?

Yeah, I mean, it’s important on a variety of levels. It’s important because we should remember our history. It’s important for Texans for sure to learn their history because it’s obviously a major event in the state’s history. You know, why we are what we are today. So, in that sense, there’s a lot of mythology about the Alamo. And the fact that there’s mythology about it, or the fact that people have certain perceptions of it in terms of why you would remember it: courage, valor, self-sacrifice, stuff like that. Even if history is more complicated, the general understanding of what happened serves the purposes of civic virtue and binding citizens together with some common understanding of our heritage. It is a complicated history, but the values that it has become soaked in, in terms of how the culture perceives it, I think are certainly worthy values to try to emulate.

How do you feel about the restoration plan for the Alamo?

I notice that Proposition Seven on the Republican ballot has something to do with preserving the Alamo as it is with no changes, which I think is nuts. It’s crazy. And why this becomes a liberal-conservative issue just boggles my mind. It’s this testament to how everything becomes tainted by these partisan perceptions. 

So, I will admit, I like going to battlefields. I have an interest in military history. And when I go to a battlefield, I like it when the battlefield is as close to what it was like back then as possible. 

I have done numerous tours of the Alamo with friends and family members. I took Charles Krauthammer on a tour of the Alamo. I took Milo Yiannopoulos on a tour of the Alamo. I took Chip Roy on a tour of the Alamo. So, every once in a while someone comes here and Crockett’s the guy to take him on a tour of the Alamo. And I always have to explain stuff to them because when you go down there, it’s rather underwhelming. People who know it and love it, of course, wouldn’t say that. But if you’re driving by there as an out of town visitor and you see this adobe fixture, you think ‘So, okay, it all happened in that building?’ 

Virtually nothing happened in that building! People just have a completely disoriented sense of what happened, the space involved, the challenge for the defenders… Just facts of the battle itself. 

If I had my way, I would remove the federal buildings on the north side, the buildings on the left side, I’d move that cenotaph and try to recreate the walls as close as we can. Now, I can’t do that. We’re not going to destroy the federal buildings. And I’m not saying we should get rid of the buildings on the west side. I think we should get rid of the obscene businesses that are there, because it taints what should be an important battlefield. So, I’d give them a lot of money to move somewhere else and whether you destroy the buildings and do something else or preserve the buildings and make it a museum—there are all sorts of things you can do—but I have no problem with major renovations. 

By the time we have the bicentennial of the battle of the Alamo in 2036, people will be down there and they’ll see how big this Alamo plaza was and how impossible it was for 200 people with single-shot flint locks to defend themselves against 5,000 trained Mexican soldiers. And you’d have sensible stuff in that area to try to orient people, instead of trying to explain ‘Oh, where this road is is this thing, and that little bit over there is where the cannon was.’ I don’t mind doing that because it’s kind of fun to orient people. It just becomes underwhelming for a lot of visitors. 

There’s nothing about the businesses across the street that are sacred. The cenotaph is fine, but there’s nothing sacred about the location. It’s not where they burned all the bodies, and it’s not a tomb or where any remains are kept. So, if you move it 500 feet down outside the Alamo grounds as a sort of entryway to the Alamo, I think that’s perfectly fine. 

Get that plaza back where people can walk up there and realize, ‘Oh, this is where the walls were, there would have been a well right here’ and things like that. So you can have all sorts of signs and stuff to educate people about what was going on. 

I actually am a big fan of the plan. Now, if it becomes politicized in stupid politically correct ways, then I would probably be annoyed. My father thinks that nothing should be done and he doesn’t want anything other than the Battle of the Alamo to be represented there. I have no problem with the history of the Alamo as a mission being depicted, everything from when it was founded in the 1700s up through the Battle of the Alamo to the fight to preserve the Alamo structure that took place at the turn of the 20th century. So, there are all sorts of ways you can do that without taking away from what happened on March the 6th, 1836. I am actually not opposed to lots of radical work being done. I’m kind of passionate about it.

Now, that all seems long-term. Is there anything you think should be done right now for the grounds of the Alamo to preserve it and educate people on the history?

They’ve done a little bit of that. So along the long barracks they have these little steel dioramas that depict what the Alamo looked like at different phases. So that kind of thing is nice and educational. They have those pictographs that give you a vision of what the Alamo would have looked like in 1836 if you were standing right there. That kind of stuff they have spread out in different locations, so that’s a start. 

Until you actually make the move to do something with the plaza itself, move the cenotaph and get the hucksters off of there, I guess I would have no problem with regrading the whole property to make sure that there aren’t steps there. So if that means lowering the whole property a few inches that’s fine. If we stop vehicular traffic, I have no problem with that. I’m a little bit agnostic about exactly what should be done. I’m willing to be briefed on that. But I do think that lots of interesting things could be done without ruining anything. 

I mean, the cenotaph has been there since the 1930’s, so I guess we had no cenotaph for a hundred years. And it’s not like bad things happened because of it. The idea that there’s something holy and sacred and untouchable about these things, I think, is just silly. I have never been to Gettysburg, but my understanding is that the Gettysburg Battlefield is really, really good on this idea. You go there and you see what it looked like in 1863. So, I look forward to going to Gettysburg someday. But that’s the kind of thing I like. 

You know, I went to Verdun when I was in Germany. We went to the battlefield at Hastings and Bannockburn when I was up in Scotland. I like seeing the land and walking the land where these things happen. It’s very difficult to do that without any sense of understanding unless you have someone like me saying, ‘See the Ripley’s? Believe it or not, that’s where Travis’ headquarters was.’

So, there are other things like the Woolworth Building down there on the corner is where they had some Civil Rights sit-ins back in the day. I have no problem keeping that structure there as part of the larger history of Alamo Plaza and telling that story too. It’s a good thing.”

You mentioned the politicization of the restoration plan. Can you say a bit more about the politicization of the Alamo’s history?

I don’t know where it started, but I suspect what has happened is that people in the state who are conservative distrust people they believe are liberal, for obvious reasons. Especially as polarization gets worse, we cease to think of our partisan opponent as our opponents and instead see them as our enemy. They’re bad, they’re probably morally bad or even evil. We think what they want to do is also bad. 

The fact that mayors in San Antonio have typically been center-left—certainly Ron Nirenburg is—means that conservatives in the city are predisposed to distrusting anything that comes out of that group of people. And so, that taints anything that’s recommended. 

So people see elites working on an Alamo project to do some big things down there, and they think, ‘You’re moving the cenotaph because you don’t want to recognize the sacrifice of Texans. And you think that all white males are imperialistic, just the patriarchy, and all that kind of stuff. And they’re white-washing history and trying to make it more politically correct by having less of a focus on Jefferson and more of a focus on Cesar Chavez.’ You know, that kind of stuff. 

Some people have interpreted these things because it comes from political leaders. Even though the mayorship in San Antonio is not a partisan position—they don’t run as Democrats and Republicans. But everyone knows that Ron Nirenberg is a Democrat. And so, they simply assume that if you want to do light-rail that’s wrong because that’s Democrats. Or the land-bridge where I live out where the land bridge is going to go over between two halves of the Hardberger Park. It’s a big $25 million operation. Most of my friends are opposed to the land ridge because they’re conservative and think it’s a waste of money. I like the land bridge myself because I think it’s kind of cool and half of it was raised by Phil Hardberger, so that’s fine. But I think that’s what’s going on. People who are predisposed to distrust anything that comes out of city hall because most of them are ‘lefties.’ And people that want to do something to Alamo Plaza probably can’t be trusted because, rather than focus on the battle, they’ll focus on what we did to Native Americans or who we had as slaves, or that all the people who defended the Alamo wanted to have slaves in the Republic of Texas. So, it’s impossible to have a sane conversation when discourse degenerates to that point. 

I actually got called on the phone several weeks ago by someone who was working with an organization trying to stop any of this from happening. So, I just had some fun with him, saying that I actually approve of doing some things in Alamo Plaza. He gave me the standard lines about destroying the cenotaph, or damaging it, or this and that and the other. Finally, he just had to hang up because obviously he wasn’t going to get anywhere with me. Part of this, I think, is knee-jerk fear-mongering, and as a conservative who takes second place to no one in terms of my conservativeness, I don’t understand why that has to be that way. It’s possible to do some really interesting things down there, and to honor completely the sacrifice my namesake made and other people without it being some sort of ‘Liberal Agenda.’ 

I think polarization and the cynicism about politics and the automatic distrust of anyone from the other side feeds some of this. Of course, this means that elected leaders, who are more often than not somewhat cowardly by nature—especially members of the House, who get every two years. And so it’s very easy to have a vote on something that they’re not going to like. And so if a Republican member of the House from San Antonio were to support what they’re doing, I’m sure they would draw a primary challenge. So it probably shouldn’t be a big surprise at the pressure on members of Congress who have a say in what’s going on, or at least have an opinion about what’s going on in San Antonio. They tend to be in favor of this ‘the sky is falling and it hit us on the head’ kind of argument. But I’m not.