As if the United States needs any more extremists hampering Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) efforts to do their jobs, new groups are scheduled to be there in late January and early February. Using the “Take Our Border Back” (TOBB) moniker, a handful of conservative wannabe influencers are creating a convoy that they say “will span from Virginia Beach, VA to Eagle Pass, TX on February 3, 2024.”
According to their press release on January 12, “The convoy will branch off Feb. 1st in Texas and continue to a location (TBD) in Arizona for a rally on Feb. 3rd. Concurrently, a California rally will take place the morning of Feb. 3rd and then convoy same day from San Ysidro to join up with the Arizona rally, culminating in rallies across three states.”
Using reasoning based on premises that aren’t true and believing far-right misinformation can only mean one of two things. They were either duped or intentionally participating in hate-based propaganda. There is no doubt that racist and xenophobic misinformation about immigration is broad. But the hype created by the far-right and amplified by so-called ‘influencers’ on various social media channels makes it worse than ever.
As they use the same Ku Klux Klan (KKK) talking points David Duke once used, modern bigots have a reach the KKK could only dream of. The propaganda about ‘criminals’ crossing the border came from the Klan. As did the lie that asylum-seekers are bringing drugs in backpacks. Even the fearmongering about ‘military-aged men’ and promoting the racist ‘white replacement’ conspiracy theories are still used today to invoke fear in white people.
While the Take Our Borders Back content says things like, “‘We The People’” are uniting all concerned citizens residing in the United States of America who have a First Amendment right to PEACEFULLY gather and protest,” the bullet points following that statement are quite telling. So, let’s go through them and highlight the dog-whistles being used.
TOBB Bullet Points
The first one seems benign enough. They start by saying, “The goal is simple ~ to shed light on the obvious dangers posed by wide open borders.”
The reality is that the media has done a good enough job hyping it – so much so that more Americans have bought into Latinophobic fanfare than ever. Because, if you notice, no one is complaining about hundreds of thousands of Russian and Ukrainian refugees who are awaiting court dates. Nor are they complaining about the Canadian immigrant who founded the Proud Boys, Gavin McInness. It’s about Latinos – Venezuelans, Cubans, Mexicans, etc.
The next bullet point is an interesting one considering they, like most other bigots, continue to invoke the Constitution. In this instance, they say, “To request all laws of our US Constitution be immediately upheld.”
The statement represents yet more commentary based on disinformation. The Constitution is being upheld – see the Supreme Court ruling against Texas over the razor wire the state placed along the Rio Grande impeding CBP from doing their jobs. There are two key points in the Constitution – the Supremacy Clause and the 14th Amendment – that assure immigration is governed by federal law implemented by Congress and Congress only. But, for the ‘law and order’ crowd, those usually only apply to them and their antics.
This next one is a kicker. They go on to say, “To slow and ultimately stop drug trafficking and human trafficking associated with open borders.”
Here’s the thing, we all know the border isn’t open. Even they know it. However, it’s a talking point that resonates with fragile Latinophobic white men. We also know that CBP’s data, along with that of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) shows that 91% of drug seizures at the border are Americans bringing drugs into the US through points of entry, not migrants. In addition, when it comes to human trafficking, the United States has some of the worst numbers on the planet, and the culprits are almost always someone close to the family. Again, not migrants.
The final bullet point says, “To call for immediate action to secure our borders before irreversible serious consequences befall our nation.”
Again, the border is more secure than ever. The ‘irreversible’ consequences they fear aren’t drugs or human trafficking. It’s the browning of America, as they like to refer to it. The fear is about losing their place in society more so than anything else and at the end of the day, that is a key tenet of white supremacy. There is no denying that no matter how hard you try.
The dog whistles all come together as they wrap up their message. The release says, “All are welcome to participate. Active and retired law enforcement and military, Veterans, elected officials, business owners, ranchers, truckers, bikers, media, and LAW ABIDING, freedom-loving Americans. This convoy reflects the vibrant American spirit. Uniting “We The People” in our resolute stand to send a PEACEFUL, LAWFUL, and clear message to all city, state, and federal politicians and immigration enforcement officials who are enabling tens of thousands of illegal entrants, criminals, and known terrorists from over 160 countries worldwide to cross daily into our country along our southern border!”
It’s clear that they adopted the narrative from former president Donald Trump when he said, “I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump — I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point and then it would be very bad, very bad.”
This press release reeks of Trumpism despite what some of the organizers say. Their entire platform is built on a foundation of lies and xenophobic propaganda made more popular than ever by the former president. Trump used language that was echoed and regurgitated verbatim by mass shooters, hate groups, extremists, and law enforcement. Even now, they repeat his words and expand upon them without any evidence to prove their claims.
For example, one of the things I’ve debunked many times is the ‘terrorists are coming’ narrative. Not only did I disprove this with the help of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (State), but at Capitol Press, we asked Senators if they’d seen any information to confirm this is true (they have access to data and documentation we don’t have access to) and they said, “no,” they had not seen any evidence of such claims.
Republican Senators couldn’t say they’ve seen any evidence either.
If people like this were to pay attention to the data instead of listening to the hyperbole spread by fringe podcasts and far-right ‘reporters’ with GoPros inventing narratives, they wouldn’t have anything to whine about. No one denies we need immigration reform but they don’t want to hear that because the conservative narrative says that reforms would equal amnesty for millions and nothing else. And if they fear so-called ‘white extinction,’ they certainly don’t want that.
Organizers like Scotty Saks aren’t interested in hearing the truth. He has a show on local radio in the San Diego area called Sovereign Radio and without creating an environment of fear he probably wouldn’t be on the air. Fear-mongering pays really well in the US through donations, merchandise sales, and funding via various organizations through Donor Advised Funds. Saks’ far-right content is broadcast on local airwaves on KCBQ where they also broadcast Dennis Prager of the propaganda outlet Prager U.
Kim Yeater of the Take Your Power Back Show podcast is another TOBB organizer who is not interested in truth. Her podcast revolves around narratives like ‘secret backroom deals’ that are speculative and provide no evidence. Worth noting that Yeater highlights General Michael Flynn (famous for promoting QAnon) as one of her only sponsors. Her most recent episode discusses getting ‘ready to take our border back and our country back’.
Mark Istratoff is listed by several far-right commentators on social media as an organizer of the TOBB convoy. He boasts about being a media executive producer and is a former real estate broker in California. He regularly makes appearances on Yeater’s podcast and spreads some of the same baseless claims derived from fear and paranoia that have many historical similarities that have been known to drive most racial and ethnic animus.
Noel Roberts, who goes by Patriot_Mom007 on Twitter, according to the host of Red Pill Politics on Rumble, is listed as an organizer in various podcasts and social media posts. They regularly post propagandized videos on social media that stoke fear that can also inevitably lead to the violence we see all too often against nonwhite groups in the US. They too do not seem to care about facts or truth because they’re so deeply invested in their extremist personas.
Robert Agee, aka Banners4Freedom, is also listed as an organizer of the convoy. He and his wife are known in Texas for raising $160,000 for a billboard claiming 913,266 people were injured by COVID-19 vaccines as of December 2021. While misinformation efforts like these are easily debunked, the damage they do in spreading fear-based lies is undeniable.
The commonality in all these wannabe Rush Limbaughs, much like their colleagues, is the selfish interest in becoming the next ‘successful’ conservative influencers. Like the hate groups and extremists before them, they ignore the same organizations they defend against calls for accountability in law enforcement – including Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Yes, the same Blue Lives Matter crowd seems to think that the oppressive CBP and ICE have suddenly become President Biden supporters and can’t be trusted. Even Texas Governor Greg Abbott has turned on federal law enforcement at the US-Mexico border. The governor’s actions only serve to exacerbate the extremist thinking among the far-right. He’s created so much chaos that even Democrats in office are turning on migrants based on the same lies.
This group of people, like most conservatives in the US today, won’t discuss the $13.6 billion in funding President Biden has set aside for the border. Most don’t even know about it. That money is part of the national security supplemental funding package that also includes billions of dollars for the wars in Ukraine and Israel. Senate Republicans are refusing to vote on it unless Democrats also agree to take away migrant rights.
Republicans have been vocal about their unwillingness to give Biden a win on immigration in any way. While most advocates don’t consider anything Biden is proposing a ‘win,’ Republicans seem to fear their base might see it that way. The president’s strategy of trying to win over conservatives has continuously failed due in large part to the ever-growing willful ignorance being adopted by far-right thinkers.
In the Trump era, it’s about being loud, not being right.
The TOBB convoy will add to the existing groups that have been operating at the US-Mexico border with the blessings of local sheriffs and mayors. TOBB will join Patriots for America, Arizona Border Recon, Women Fighting for America, and a ton of so-called journalists with GoPros to continue escalating the propaganda and hateful rhetoric against immigrants and the growing negative sentiment towards CBP, DHS, and ICE.
And while they claim to be peaceful, as we all know, it only takes one.
Read the TOBB Press Release
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