Republicans in the Tennessee House of Representatives have shot down a resolution that would have condemned white nationalists and neo-Nazism.
House Joint Resolution 583 was filed by Representative John Ray Clemmons (D-Nashville) in the wake of the Unite the Right rally, where one counter-protester was killed by white nationalist James Alex Fields Jr. The motion stated that “recent tragic events have proven that white nationalism and neo-Nazism remain very real threats to social and racial progress” and asked the house to “strongly denounce and oppose the totalitarian impulses, violent terrorism… and bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis.” It also urged law enforcement to recognize these groups as domestic terrorists.
Clemmons presented the motion to the House State Government Subcommittee on Wednesday, and fellow Nashville Democrat Rep. Darren Jernigan made a motion to hear the proposal. However, there was no second to the motion from any of the committee’s four Republican members. Eventually, Republican chairman Bill Sanderson told Clemmons to introduce another unrelated bill, effectively killing the resolution.
“I’m in utter disbelief about what just happened,” Clemmons told the Tennessean. “I didn’t think there was anything controversial about this resolution.”
“”I would love to try to pass a resolution denouncing white nationalists and neo-Nazis,” Clemmons added. “But if I can’t even get a second in a subcommittee, it evidences this Republican supermajority’s refusal to denounce these hate organizations, for what reason I cannot begin to imagine.”
Last October, white nationalists held two “White Lives Matter” rallies near Nashville, Tennessee, chanting “Closed borders! White nations! Now we start the deportations!.” At the time Republican governor Bill Haslam said that those type of groups were not welcome. “We want to send a really clear message that these folks are not welcome in Tennessee,” he said. “If you’re part of the white supremacist movement you’re not somebody we want in Tennessee.”
His Republican colleagues, however, seem completely unwilling to back up their governor’s statement with any sort of matching legislation. This is even though Trump himself formally condemned white supremacists after the Charlottesville rally — albeit after being pressured from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Among the white nationalists groups that attended the October rally in Tennessee was the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), a group which advocates for a white ethnostate. This week however, the TWP has descended into a farce after its leader, Matthew Heimbach, was arrested on charges of battery following a scuffle related to his affair with his mother-in-law, Jessica Parrott.
According to police report, Heimbach ‘choked out’ his father-in-law, Matthew Parrott, when he confronted Heimbach and Jessica about the affair in their trailer. The asinine nature of the arrest has left TWP sympathizers reeling. “[I’m] done. I’m out. SPLC has won,” he told the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Matt Parrott is out of the game. Y’all have a nice life.”