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What the hell is going on in Texas?

The state’s new abortion ban is only the latest example in 2021 of a slide into far-right extremism.

What the hell is going on in Texas?
[Source images: Grooveland Designs/Unsplash; bamlou/Getty Images]
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Back in February, Texas looked like hell had frozen over. The second-largest state in the nation experienced a power failure in the dead of winter, depriving citizens of electricity, heat, and potable water. Over 200 Texans died during the fiasco, and at least 450 of them suffered carbon monoxide poisoning as a result of desperate efforts to keep warm. This gravely unfortunate episode revealed the critical flaws in Texas’s deregulated energy grid, and the human cost of the idea of freedom.

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In the months since that power failure, and one senator’s embarrassing attempt to flee from it, the state has gone to great lengths to further assert its supposed inherent liberties. And just like the power grid failure, each of these efforts comes at the expense of the state’s citizens.

All year long, like in most other majority-Republican states, Texas politicians have been working toward passing bills that put dramatic restrictions on the voting process. The only-occasionally-spoken-out-loud idea is that Democrats stole the 2020 election, and so Republicans are only utilizing their freedom to protect themselves. Otherwise, the push to empower partisan poll watchers and ban COVID-era voting options would just be a reaction to the most secure election in American history.

If Texas politicians were really against augmenting the traditional voting process to accommodate a pandemic, though, one might think they’d be more vigilant about, you know, ending the pandemic. Instead, Governor Greg Abbott, who recently tested positive for COVID himself, has taken every step possible to ban vaccine and mask mandates, including a recent executive order, which runs counter to the state’s constitution. The idea of being free from wearing masks or having to take vaccines in a pandemic is so appealing in Texas, it seems to require banning business owners and school superintendents from disagreeing on the issue.

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Elsewhere in the state’s schools, Critical Race Theory, or at least the conservative interpretation of it, has become such a boogeyman of the culture wars, it inspired immediate legislative action. Apparently, any lesson plan that includes the history of racism in America infringes on the freedom to remember history in a way that is more flattering to white people. Many teachers in Texas are against the anti-CRT bill, but are powerless to do anything about it. Now, the state has just suspended its first Black principal over accusations of promoting CRT, sparing the students from, uh, mistakenly learning that America has a deep history of racism.

Finally, Texas just passed a bill banning abortion after six weeks, a time period during which some women might not even be aware they are pregnant. It’s the most extreme abortion law in the country, hinging on a provision that offers a $10,000 bounty on anyone who helps another person obtain an abortion in the state. Opposition to abortion, both in Texas and America more broadly, stems from a belief in religious freedom; specifically, a religion that considers abortion to be immoral. But this freedom, of course, comes at the expense of everyone in the state who does not believe abortion to be immoral.

Texas is now a beacon of regulation for the sake of deregulation, and oppression in the name of freedom. What the hell is going on down there?