I am a Texas State Guardsman. The Texas Military Forces motto of “Duty. Honor. Texas.” is more than just words to me. I joined freely in 2014, as a 37-year-old father of three, and seven years later, I still feel that the Guard is made up of the most outstanding Texans. But on Saturday, May 22, 2021, my unshakable pride in the Guard was rattled.

During our monthly drill, we were ordered into an auditorium at Camp Mabry and indoctrinated with themes of cultural Marxism and critical race theory that characterize the same DOD “extremism” training that has been forced upon all federal troops since the January 6 rally for President Trump in Washington, D.C. Unlike the federal training, our training occurred with a room full of Texas general officers, including Major General Robert Bodisch, the commanding general (CG) of the Texas State Guard.

Texas is somewhat unique in that the Texas Military Forces is made up of no less than three branches: the Army National Guard, the Air National Guard, and the Texas State Guard. The reporting structure is complex, but the bottom line is that the State Guard only reports to the governor of Texas and cannot be federalized. The Department of Defense is not in our reporting structure, and Washington, D.C. has no role in the command of our state military forces.

Reporting to the governor is not the only unique thing about the State Guard. Holding to tradition, the Guard is still made up of families from all over the state: fathers and daughters, brothers and cousins, all serving side by side. Indeed, it is what the United States military used to be: a proud, organized militia made up of families serving their homes and neighbors.

Ultimately, what I witnessed on May 22 was a case of leadership boldly weaponizing the chain of command to indoctrinate a left-wing political agenda of cultural Marxism, critical race theory, and moral relativism upon military forces of the State of Texas. I rose to forcefully remind the officers that they were misusing the chain of command to indoctrinate their political beliefs.

The training was given by one senior NCO (non-commissioned officer) and several lawyers, and it was preceded by a short reminder of the oath of office given by the CG. The reason given pertained to the “attack” on the Capitol that led to the genesis of the prescribed training and included the order of Biden’s secretary of defense to perform the mandatory training. Specifically, troops were told that there was a list of extremist organizations and that soldiers with “extreme” views would be investigated. Troops were encouraged to report others whom they felt held “extreme” views.

During the question-and-answer dialog, we learned that although it wasn’t clear who had the list of extremist organizations, the NRA was known to be on the list. Troops were reminded that membership in the NRA would not necessarily be extreme, but fundraising or recruiting members certainly would be. Specific examples were given of extremists who had been rooted out of the military in the past, and all of the examples presented to the class were of white, presumably “right-wing” extremists who had done something overtly illegal.

Also cited as extreme was any belief or opinion of an independent Texas. Students were counseled to quickly remove any “SECEDE” or “TEXIT” bumper stickers from their cars. Clearly, the instructors and general officers seated in the front row had forgotten that Rep. Steve Toth, who is a major in the Texas State Guard, co-authored HB 1359, the Texas Independence Referendum Act (or “TEXIT” bill). This bill had many authors and co-authors, including Reps. Kyle Biedermann, James White, Jeff Cason, Bryan Slaton, and Phil Stephenson.

Polls show that a majority of Republicans and more than 30 percent of Democrats support Texas independence. Two major 2022 gubernatorial candidates have stated that Texans should have the right to vote on independence. The chairman of the Texas Republican Party, Lt. Col. Allen West, who is also in the Texas State Guard, has stated on record that Texans should have the right to vote on independence, per HB 1359 and the Republican Party platform.

How can popularly held, mainstream views be considered “extreme”? The answer is that these views are extreme to bureaucrats from Washington, D.C. I can tell you from experience that the idea of Texas independence is not extreme in the Lone Star State. In the fall of 2020, I ran for Senate District 30. In less than a month, my family and friends knocked on around 4,000 doors. I became extremely familiar with the values of the 14 rural counties northwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. I met a lot of amazing Texans. A few of them are now my closest friends. One was even my opponent in the SD 30 race, a salon owner named Shelley Luther. I learned many things from Shelley and her husband, Tim, not the least of which is that standing firm for your convictions is not easy or safe, but it is necessary. In the end, we have to live with ourselves. Principles matter.

Even back in September 2020, I had many Texans ask me if I supported the idea that Texas should govern itself. This was before the presidential election. On this point, a quick internet search will reveal that the DOD training this TXSG training was based upon cited that a clear sign of extremism is if the solider ever used “#StopTheSteal” on social media.

Once the question-and-answer session of our training began, I stood and asked whether Gov. Abbott was aware that this training was being administered to non-federal Texas Guardsmen. After all, when it was revealed that the Biden administration was vetting troops based upon the same standards of “extremism” taught in this class, Texas Gov.Greg Abbott recalled the Texas National Guard from Washington, D.C., saying that the vetting of the National Guard was the “most offensive thing I’ve ever heard.” After some confusion, the instructor began to suggest an answer, and there was an audible command: “Don’t answer that.” Ultimately, I was promised an answer after the matter was investigated.

I stood again and reminded the instructors that Article 1, Section 24 of the Texas Bill of Rights states that the “military shall be at all times subordinate to the civil authority.” I asked what civil authority had ordered this training. One thing was clear: the Texas Adjutant General, Major General Tracy R. Norris, ordered Texas State Guard Major General Robert Bodisch to conduct the DOD training, but no civil authority was offered. It should also be noted that while the Texas State Guard is a state agency, no other state agency has been asked to take “extremist” training.

Students questioned what characterized speech as “hate speech” or “extreme speech.” The answer given was that everybody knows what is right and wrong—the maxim, “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist is wrong,” said the instructor. You are either doing the right thing or the wrong thing, and everyone knows the difference. I beg to differ; there is virtually no agreement on the finer nuances of right and wrong betwixt Democrats and Republicans. If you don’t agree, I counsel you to run for office and talk to people.

The spirit of Texas is summed up in its preamble, that we seek the “general, great, and essential principles of liberty” and that “equality under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of sex, race, color, creed, or national origin.” The law judges us by our actions, not by our thoughts. The “extremist” training I witnessed stood in direct opposition to the principles espoused by the founding fathers of Texas.

It is interesting to note that the Second Continental Congress of the 13 colonies was not seeking independence but fair representation. They closed each session with, “God save the King!” until the moment the letter from King George arrived to brand them all as extremists and traitors.

May God bless Texas.

This is a commentary published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to submission@texasscorecard.com.