Twiiter / DanPatrick
Immigrant bashing has been a key part of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's political brand.
During a Tuesday news conference, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick lashed out at Democrats, the media and businesses for daring to suggest that the restrictive voting bill he's championing amounts to a bid to suppress minority votes.
American Airlines, which publicly announced its opposition
to Patrick-backed Senate Bill 7, was a key target at the presser, the Dallas Morning News reports
. Patrick, a Republican, said a government-relations staffer from the airline called him to say his employer would publicly speak out against the bill but added that it “was not personal.”
“Well let me tell you what, Mr. American Airlines, I take it personally,” Patrick said, according to the Morning News
. “You’re questioning my integrity, and the integrity of the governor and the integrity of the 18 Republicans [senators] who voted for this. When you suggest that we’re trying to suppress the vote, you are in essence, between the lines, calling us racist, and that will not stand.”
For a second, let's leave behind the actual provisions in the bill, which voting-rights groups have repeatedly pointed out
would make it harder for people of color to cast ballots.
That said, there's rich irony in Patrick drawing a line in the sand over insinuations that he's racist. The former right-wing AM radio host has made a career out of inflaming racial tensions. So much so that immigrant bashing is a key component of his political brand.
“The No. 1 problem we are facing is the silent invasion of the border,” Patrick told a golf club gathering in 2006 during his first Texas Senate campaign, the Texas Observer reports
. During that appearance, he accused immigrants of bringing "Third World diseases" into the country, among them tuberculosis, malaria, polio and leprosy.
State Senator Jon Lindsay, Patrick's opponent in the Republican primary, even tried to use his opponent's xenophobia against him, branding the former radio shock jock an "extremist."
It didn't work. Patrick won, and his anti-immigrant vitriol has continued. He's repeatedly characterized border crossings as an "invasion" and undocumented immigrants as violent thugs. During a 2019 Fox News appearance he made the wild claim
that the border fence was the only thing stopping drug lords from decapitating people in the streets of El Paso.
That same year, Patrick even echoed a conspiracy theory popular in White Supremacist circles known as the "Great Replacement," a connection reported on by the Texas Observer
. That racist theory holds that shadowy elites are in favor of open borders because they allow immigrants of color to replace God-fearing whites. (Anybody recall the "Jews will not replace us" chant
at the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia?)
“The reason the deceivers — the Democrats and the mainstream media — have this manufactured cover-up," Patrick told Fox host Laura Ingraham, "is because they want another 10, 15, 20 million [immigrants] to continue to pour in, to where they turn those into votes one day and they control the country and they move our country to the left."
To be sure, during Donald Trump's time in the White House, Patrick emerged as one of the most ardent defenders of the former president's draconian border policies. Some observers noted that the Texas Republican helped pave the way for Trump's nativism.
"Dan Patrick was Donald Trump before Donald Trump was," University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus told CNN
Given that rhetorical track record, it's hard to imagine Patrick being truly scandalized about being labeled a racist. But, if that insinuation truly stung, maybe it's time for the lieutenant governor to take a long, hard look in the mirror.
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