‘Straight Up Racist Fascism’ in Tennessee

by on April 7, 2023 · 30 comments

in Civil Rights

By Jake Johnson /Salon and Common Dreams / April 7, 2023

Progressives in the U.S. Congress reacted with outrage Thursday after the Republican-dominated Tennessee House voted to expel two lawmakers who joined protesters in demanding gun control legislation during a demonstration inside the state Capitol last week.

“This is fascism,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. “Expelling your political opponents for demanding action on gun violence when children are dying is disgusting.”

Rep. Summer Lee, D-Pa., similarly called the expulsion of state Democratic Reps. Justin Jones and Justin Pearson “straight-up fascism in its ugliest, most racist form.” Jones and Pearson are both Black; a vote to expel their colleague Rep. Gloria Johnson, who is white, fell short.

“There is no justification for ousting two legislators who were protesting with and for their constituents,” Lee said in a statement. “That two Black men were expelled for standing up against the murder of children—but not their white counterpart—says it all. People are dying because Republicans want to put politics over the lives of the people they represent. They ask for safety for themselves, but not for school children, and they’ll sacrifice the lives of our loved ones for their lobbyists.”

The students outside the doors of the House floor are chanting in response: “F*CK YOU, FASCISTS.”

“Now is not the time to be on the sidelines,” Lee added. “We better fight back before it’s too late.”

Thursday’s expulsion votes, held as furious demonstrators gathered inside the Capitol to protest the move, came less than two weeks after a mass shooting at a school in Nashville left three young children and three adults dead.

The expulsion resolutions were led by Republican Reps. Bud Hulsey, Gino Bulso, and Andrew Farmer, fervent opponents of gun control. Hulsey and Farmer have voted to further weaken Tennessee’s firearm regulations on a number of occasions in recent years, earning them high marks from the National Rifle Association.

“This is fascism, full stop,” Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., tweeted following Thursday’s votes. “MAGA Republicans are no longer content with inaction on gun violence—instead of thoughts and prayers, they want to silence and expel politicians who speak up to protect children. I vehemently condemn this racist, undemocratic assault on freedom of speech.”

Tennessee Republicans—who likened the peaceful Capitol protests in the wake of the shooting to an “insurrection”—justified the removal of Jones and Pearson as a defense of decorum. Last week, Jones, Pearson, and Johnson took to the podium on the state House floor without recognition to show solidarity with those demanding legislative action in response to the massacre in Nashville—the 129th mass shooting in the U.S. this year.

But the claim that the expulsions were necessary to protect chamber norms was widely rejected as a cover for authoritarian political retribution, particularly given Tennessee Republicans’ past refusal to remove lawmakers accused of sexual misconduct and other wrongdoing.

“For years, one of your colleagues, an admitted child molester, sat in this chamber—no expulsion,” Jones said in a floor speech on Thursday, referring to former Republican state Rep. David Byrd.

Student protestors ended the night with a die-in.

Johnson filed resolutions to expel Byrd in 2019 and 2020, but the GOP-controlled chamber declined to act. Byrd went on to win reelection in 2020.

“We had a former speaker sit in this chamber who is now under federal investigation—no expulsion,” Jones said in his speech. “We have a member still under federal investigation—no expulsion. We had a member pee in another member’s chair, in this chamber—no expulsion. In fact, they’re in leadership, in the governor’s administration.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., joined her fellow House progressives in decrying the Tennessee House’s actions and predicted the expulsions will only galvanize youth activism.

“Republicans may think they won today in Tennessee, but their fascism is only further radicalizing and awakening an earthquake of young people, both in the South and across the nation,” the New York Democrat wrote on social media.

“If you thought youth organizing was strong,” she added, “just wait for what’s coming.”

{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Roy Mitchell April 9, 2023 at 7:37 pm

I was born in OC, grew up there. Moved to the south when I was 18 for work.

I lived 18 years in the south and I’m telling you the confederacy is still there (literally) and it simply wants to murder people. You don’t understand what its like unless you’ve lived down there. They will kill you. They will try to get the cops to do it. Look up what happened during hurricane Katrina (I was there). Look up the Wilmington coup. Those confederate statues ARE NOT OLD. Most were erected during the civil rights movement. It’s not about small government, or heritage or about whatever bullshit your homie from the south tries to tell you.. It’s an ideology of humans as property. They don’t think they’re doing anything wrong when they kill you, because they think they own you.

Drive around the Piedmont and you’ll start to see negros head road, Jefferson Davis road, etc. New signs, not old. New developments paying homage to slavers. People will ask you which way the wind is blowing, answer south and they’ll immediately begin to divulge their race war plans. They call the civil war the war of Northern aggression, yet the south fired on Ft. Sumpter, the souths constitution demanded slavery. The southern generals weren’t punished after the war. Slaver families still own all that land. For fucks sake Martha Mitchell wrote a pro slavery blow job (gone with the wind) and people to this very day love that ridiculous garbage. You all saw a confederate flag stroll through the capitol on 6 January. This is all very much alive in the minds of an admittedly small segment of USA, BUT it wont go away because people, especially around here, don’t understand what it is. I see idiots in ocean beach with confederate flags from time to time. It should be pointed out that these people were slavers, murderous traitors. A lazy, stupid, violent society that existed off the blood and sweat of human property. It is worse than anything in the west. I will look you in the eye and tell you that the legacy of slavery in the modern south is the an absolute cancer on our society and we as Americans will never have a nice thing as long as this ideology persists.


Chris April 10, 2023 at 9:04 am

Growing up in the South Bay area of LA (Palos Verdes and Torrance) in the 70s I remember Lynyrd Skynyrd being very popular, especially after the plane crash that pretty much ended them. All over the place people were wearing t-shirts and belt buckles of the band standing in front of a Confederate flag. In fact they always had one behind them on stage when they performed. Probably many other Southern rock bands did as well. In those days, no one really gave it much thought, at least where I grew up they didn’t. The only reason I never wore any clothing advertising them was because by the late 70s going into the 80s my music tastes were more along punk and it’s various offshoots. I can’t say if the band held racist beliefs or not but giving them the benefit of the doubt I will assume not. Right or wrong, attitudes about that flag were very different. This is not to say it’s ok because it wasn’t, but it was what it was.

On another note, why did you stay in the South for so long?


Frank Gormlie April 10, 2023 at 9:58 am

Roy, thanks so much for your keen observations about the south.


UNWASHEDwalmartTHONG April 9, 2023 at 9:34 pm

Once upon a time when I was a baby, I lived in Daytona Beach, Florida & attended Daytona Beach Community College. One day somewhere around
1977 a guy on campus invited me to a get together at a bar close to a crossroads outside of town. It was a mid-week KKK meeting. He said, “You’ll fit right in!”
I moved out of that cracker state in January 1978 & made it to San Diego in a 1971 Volkswagen Square back.


Chris April 10, 2023 at 9:06 am

I here Gainesville is a pretty hip place. After all, it is where The Fest (best punk rock festival in existence) is held every October.


Vern April 10, 2023 at 7:09 pm

Punk died in 1980.


Chris April 10, 2023 at 7:30 pm



Roy Mitchell April 10, 2023 at 10:15 am

You know the saying once you leave California you can never come back. I went out there for work, stayed for school, and early professional career, but the entire time I was trying to come back. There just wasn’t the right opportunity. It’s very difficult, I could’ve returned of course and leaned on family and friends, but I just waited for the right opportunity to return with the ability to stay for good, so to speak. When I left in 04′ I was making 20 dollars an hour working in a bearing warehouse in costa mesa. Great for a high school kid but I knew that wouldn’t cut it down the road. I feel lucky as all that sort of decent paying labor has dried up these days.

Ronnie Van Zandt would ask around for people to join the kkk, so the story goes. The whole “attitudes around the flag were different” is entirely the strategy used to attract the youth amd uninformed. One minute it’s just good ole southern rock, next thing you know you’re sitting around plotting something. Remember Nixons southern strategy, this is the same shit. The sad thing is the south has a lot of beauty and it’s all good people, but they have no power, or it’s illusory. The real power is with the good old boy network. Think the Murdaugh murders, or any of the worse things you hear coming out of the region and ask yourself how in the fuck something like that can possibly happen without someone saying something about it. The sheriffs, the DA, the politicians, they all look out for one another. Its the same story as anywhere else except they dont want power or money. They want a return to the practice of owning humans. Really just take a trip down south and go off the beaten path a bit, you’ll see it. It’s also a bit different from here in that the population is much lower. You might have a small town thats been hollowed out by meth (big problem in the south) so its population is maybe a few thousand people at most. More likely high hundreds. Think Kinston, NC or Johnson city, TN. The sheriff is god, and the politicians have the same power as a Californian city of tens or even hundreds of thousands, as far as influencing things at the state level. It’s crazy.


Sorry not Sorry April 10, 2023 at 10:23 am

Thanks Roy, now I’m picturing Todd Gloria with a John Deere hat, plaid shirt and a piece of straw hanging out of his mouth.


Chris April 10, 2023 at 11:22 am

Well when I said attitudes were different, I didn’t just mean in the south as fas as people defending it as “southern pride”. I was stating in terms of the general attitude in this country at the time, which is a fact. Again I’m not saying it was ok, but the fact is the confederate flag just didn’t create the outrage that it does now (and has for the past couple decades). Perhaps it was because many were unaware of it’s true meaning or just indifferent to the point of not drawing any connection it had to racism and why we had a civil war. I honestly can’t say, but I don’t recall anyone being outraged by that flag being present in movies, tv shows, and musical artists. Obviously now would be a whole different story. Even 20 years ago would be much different than the 70s.
As for Ronnie Van Zant, I never heard anything about that. We all know he and his band mates slammed Neil Young in Sweethome Alabama” for his song “Southern Man”, but Neil Young himself (being the Canadian that he is) came to the conclusion he has made a sweeping generalization about people from the south and actually apologized. Tho the whole story of LS’s song is a bit complicated:https://www.npr.org/2018/12/17/676863591/sweet-home-alabama-lynyrd-skynyrd-southern-discomfort-american-anthem


Roy Mitchell April 10, 2023 at 10:44 am

It’s really best to think of California as am entirely different country. I’m not saying I want that, I’m pro union and I’ve taken my licks for saying as much in the wrong places. The fact is the problems faced by Californians are of an entirely different substance than what southerners face. It’s apples to oranges.

Imagine if Todd Gloria wanted to change the voting ID to a family bible showing your family tree, that’s the kind of shit I’m talking about. It’s hard to conceptualize if you’ve never lived in it, it’s a completely different animal.


Sorry not Sorry April 10, 2023 at 10:53 am

I have lived in it Roy. Spent several years in Alabama. With all due respect, I believe you are over-generalizing things quite a bit. But you, like me, are entitled to your opinion.


Roy Mitchell April 10, 2023 at 11:05 am

Well I’m curious what you think I’m over generalizing? I’m open to being corrected, but I haven’t posted anything that isn’t factual. I didn’t come u withp the idea of a family bible as valid ID, sundown towns, the southern strategy, the 3/5ths compromise, the war of northern aggression, confederete statues as a response to civil rights, the only successful coup of an american government in US history. None of this is generalization, it’s modern history that is conveniently not in textbooks. Yesterday was the anniversary of winning the civil war, curiously we dont hear a peep about it. I dare say I’m not generalizing a thing. I’ve been through Mobile on several occasions and I can’t say that the state of things there is “equality”.


Chris April 10, 2023 at 11:34 am

I haven’t lived in the south so I can’t give any personal account, but is it just possible that not all parts of the south are the same? Or that some areas of it are worse/better than others?
For as long as you’ve lived there I’m sure it’s safe to assume met and knew many good people.
I did 20 years in the Navy and still work for them in Civil service. I mention that because I’ve met all kinds of people from all over the country and the globe. Many from the south. I’ve known plenty of POC from there and some actually thought the racism here in California was worse because of it being more subtle/hidden whereas in the south it was at least up front and in your face.


Geoff Page April 10, 2023 at 12:18 pm

I ran into the same thing in college. An African American I knew at Michigan State grew up in the South and told me he planned to move back when he graduated. One of his main reasons was the same, that there was just as much racism in Michigan as there was in the south but people went to great lengths to hide it. It seemed dishonest and hypocritical to him. I spent a lot of time in the South and I knew what he meant.


Chris April 10, 2023 at 3:14 pm

I’d give a “like” reaction if the rag had such a feature.


Geoff Page April 10, 2023 at 3:24 pm



Roy Mitchell April 10, 2023 at 12:01 pm

Right, I think we’re arguing at cross purposes. The people in the south are great. I loved it there, etc etc. The in your face vs. subtle racism thing is just like europe too, for what it’s worth.

My specific argument is that the political and economic powers in the south (nobody we’ve known or met in our outsiders experience) desires to return to an agrarian slave owning society. This produces a different set of antagonisms amongst the population than what we here in California experience.

What I’d call California or Western US politics appears to want money. Northeastern or yankee politics can be seen as a desire for power and influence.

Southern politics is all about stripping human rights to return to chattel slavery. This was identified by Nixons people and codified as the southern strategy. I’m not making any of this up, it’s not a generalization.


Roy Mitchell April 10, 2023 at 4:15 pm

I’ll finish by requesting anyone curious about the legitimacy of my statements perform a cursory investigation of the southern strategy. I realize my statements about regional political ambitions do contain generalizations and even my own analysis, but the southern strategy is a real thing and we’re living with its legacy.

Sorry for clogging up the comments


Chris April 10, 2023 at 4:16 pm

If there one good thing that’s come out or Tennessee it’s these guys. Nine Pound Hammer is a punk rock band comprised of real trailer park Southern rednecks. I was at this very show at The Redwood (LA) last weekend. You might find the back of my head in the audience lol. If you don’t like this, you don’t have a pulse. Very similar to an OB band transplanted DDO Alabama of which I forgot the name. https://www.youtube.com/live/3ax-qBvmC-c?feature=share


Chris April 10, 2023 at 4:23 pm

The Screamin Yeehaws. That’s the OB (by way of Alabama) that these guys will remind you of.


Jan Michael Sauer April 10, 2023 at 9:00 pm

One thing that has changed throughout The South in the last 20 to 30 years is most of the major cities have slowly turned from pink to various shades of blue . At least there is that Positive .


Geoff Page April 11, 2023 at 2:09 pm

You are correct about the changes in the cities. The problem is that the cities are becoming islands in a sea of red. Some Southerners will say things like “Austin isn’t Texas or Atlanta isn’t Georgia. You get outside the major cities in Florida and you better have a confederate flag on you vehicle.


Chris April 11, 2023 at 3:22 pm

It is said the most “southern” part of Florida in in the north. I’d like to visit here sometime:


Vern April 11, 2023 at 7:41 pm

SD is the Florida of California.


Geoff Page April 11, 2023 at 9:34 pm

Gotta disagree with you there Vern. Lakeside maybe ,not San Diego.


JayBird April 13, 2023 at 1:49 am

Whether true or not – everybody knows the old trope about “Klan-Tee”…


Frank Gormlie April 13, 2023 at 10:09 am

The second of two Black Democrats expelled from the Republican-led Tennessee House will return to the Legislature after a Memphis commission voted to reinstate him Wednesday, nearly a week after his banishment for supporting gun control protesters propelled him into the national spotlight.


sealintheSelkirks April 21, 2023 at 12:07 am

Targeting Black Veterans
Lynching in America

And of course this current bit of news from Oklahoma and it isn’t any surprise of course if one knows the history of that state. Can we say TULSA?

The only time I ever lived in a southern state was Fall into Winter of 1977 visiting family in Virginia Beach (for surf trips to Hatteras) who had moved there from San Diego. The inherent culture of hatred and racism that I heard in restaurants, bars, on the beach and streets, at parties, shocked the shit out of me. They were still fighting the War for Slavery that they started and lost.

Well, here we are. Part II, eh?

Being a life-long history reader I’ve always wonder if the biggest mistake the North made at the end of the War for Slavery was not hanging for treason every slavery-supporting politician and military officer left alive and doing what Germany did with Fascism; outlawing it. Should have confiscated and re-distributed every plantation to the slaves that worked them.

Sort of how I’m feeling about the number of slave-states politicians involved in the Trump Coup that are STILL in federal office pushing for a “national divorce’ and other items on the Confederate ideological wish list…and their political ideological counterparts all across this ‘tossed salad’ of a country in other states.
The rot is deep. Remember the words on that Oklahoma tape…



Jan Michael Sauer April 21, 2023 at 6:22 pm

Agree. As a student of history, you probably agree that one, Thaddeus Stevens should have been listened to at the end and following The Civil War. Also, the exception in The Thirteenth Amendment making slavery legal for those convicted of crimes was a HUGE MISTAKE that The Southern States quickly took advantage of. We still feel the ramifications of that error to this day.


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