As Republicans in Texas (and around the country) continue their campaigning in the final stretch of the election season, their rhetoric has become increasingly unhinged and shameful. Republican candidate Beth Van Duyne, who is no stranger to appalling and incendiary views, hit a new low yesterday.
Van Duyne, the former mayor of Irving, posted a racist image of a bruised Black woman and the caption: “Decades of woman beating, rapes, illegal drug use, gambling, dog fighting… and all of a sudden the NFL cares about social justice.” Though it’s unclear what Van Duyne was specifically referencing in her post, many Republicans have taken up the Trump mantle of attacking athletes who support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Van Duyne gained national notoriety with anti-Muslim Facebook posts in 2015 after an Internet hoax claimed a Sharia Law Court was operating in Irving. Politifact investigated the claim and ruled it false. Nevertheless, Van Duyne continued her anti-Muslim campaign. In 2016, she was awarded the National Security Patriot Award by ACT For America, which was designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Van Duyne’s profile in conservative media rose as a result of her bigoted campaign against Muslims. She became a favorite of Glenn Beck and his rightwing media group The Blaze. When Donald Trump won in 2016, she was tapped as a Regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
In 2018, Kenny Marchant won his re-election in the 24th congressional district by just three points against an opponent who raised a little more than $100,000. He opted for retirement rather than running for re-election this year. Van Duyne cruised to victory in the Republican primary after she was endorsed by Trump, beating four other candidates.
As a candidate in the general election, Van Duyne repeats the Republican talking points about Democrats: riots, mobs, cities overrun with crime. She also holds campaign events without social distancing or face masks. Although she supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, she cut an ad about fighting for healthcare and preexisting conditions.
In December 2019, Van Duyne joined three other GOP women congressional candidates to form a “conservative squad,” a counter to the 2018 crew of Democrat Reps. Ocasio Cortez, Omar, Pressley and Tlaib. The “conservative squad” has faced challenges. The website for their group expired, and one of the conservative squad members lost her primary earlier this year.
But Van Duyne carries the “conservative squad” goals. When talking about Democrats, she frequently brings up socialism and radicalism. Candace Valenzuela, her Democratic opponent, was recently added to the DCCC Red to Blue program. After that, Van Duyne warned on Twitter: “Don’t be fooled by the lies that you will hear from my opponent over the coming months, she will be beholden to Nancy Pelosi and the socialists’ agenda.”
Van Duyne is a fearmonger. That’s why she posted such a shockingly racist image on her Twitter account. Whether or not attacking the NFL is effective remains to be seen. A few years ago, a Republican attempting such an act would be laughed off the political stage.
Last week, the activism of athletes culminated with a strike in the NBA and the WNBA, and several games were also postponed in MLB and the NHL. In the NFL, a number of players have spoken out as well. Their season is scheduled to start on September 10.
As professional football makes it return later this month, it’s possible we’ll see even more player activism that will provoke additional racist attacks from Van Duyne and other Republicans in Texas. The Baltimore Ravens recorded a video of players and coaches advocating for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the Senate.
The 24th congressional district is ground zero for the changing demographics of Texas. It’s 40 percent minority. Beto O’Rourke won the district in 2018. It’s a perfect encapsulation of an evolving America and Texas.
But Van Duyne has a trusted and true playbook. It’s really the only thing Republicans have at this point. Entering the final two months of the election, expect the rhetoric to devolve even further. As athletes, teams, and leagues, continue to promote racial justice, we shouldn’t be surprised by more racist attacks from candidates like Van Duyne.
Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images