When the town of Friendswood, Texas announced on Facebook that local hero Haley Carter would be the grand marshal of the town’s famous 4th of July parade, the post was peppered with enthusiastic comments. Carter, who was in the Marines and is a retired professional football player, was exactly the type of person locals wanted to see leading the parade.
Then came the right-wing culture warriors.
Conservative radio host Jesse Kelly tweeted the same day Friendswood had appointed a “gun grabber” who is “into pick-up” and “trans activism” to lead the parade. Kelly is originally from Ohio, ran a failed congressional campaign in Arizona, and now hosts her radio show from nearby Houston. “Communists are also in blood red areas,” he wrote.
Soon, enthusiastic Facebook comments were accompanied by screenshots of Kelly’s tweets about Carter, some of which included a photo of her young son. She started receiving threats.
On paper, Carter seems like the kind of person conservatives who claim to love the military would support.
She attended the US Naval Academy and completed two tours of Iraq after graduating in 2006. She played in the National Women’s Soccer League for the Houston Dash and served as an assistant coach for the Women’s National Soccer Team. Afghanistan. She holds an MBA and a law degree.
But Carter is also a strong supporter of gun reform in her home state of Texas. She is the chair of the Mayor’s Commission Against Gun Violence in Houston, and following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, she wrote a letter demanding that Texas leaders act on gun reform. She also regularly takes her son to drag events and once surprised him with a trip to Las Vegas to meet his favorite drag queen.
Just two days after being announced as grand marshal, Carter officially stepped down from her role. No one will replace her.
The city told HuffPost that Carter had “voluntarily resigned after receiving threats of violence against herself and her family. (When contacted by HuffPost this week, Carter said she was traveling and was unable to comment.)
“If right-wing reactionaries are prepared to threaten violence in a parade, how far will they go?”
The July 4 parade in Friendswood, a town of about 35,000 about 25 miles from Houston, has been a tradition for 130 years. The 4th of July steering committee, made up of community members appointed by the city council, chooses the grand marshal.
Carter was chosen because she is a native and has a long service record, City told HuffPost.
“Haley embodies everything that the typical American vacation represents. Freedom. Independence. Love of country. In other words, the perfect Fourth of July Grand Marshal,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. said in a press release. “Sadly, some have threatened violence against Haley and her family because of her strength, her belief in equality and her leadership in trying to reduce gun violence here in Houston.”
Theoretically, if you were so offended by kids seeing drag queens, you just couldn’t take your own kid to drag shows. But that’s not enough for people like Kelly and the hordes of people who follow her example.
The Friendswood Parade is important to the townspeople, but it’s not exactly a national referendum. Haley Carter being the grand marshal of an Independence Day parade shouldn’t be a controversial nomination. And if right-wing reactionaries are willing to threaten violence in a parade, how far will they go?
This is all part of an alarming new trend. Conservatives harass unemployed people, like white parents who kicked a black woman out of two education jobs or the teacher from Oklahoma who quit after parents objected to his TikTok to support LGBTQ kids.
Carter was harassed for participating in the parade, but there were no consequences for the people who launched the attacks. In reality, Kelly bragged about his successful hate campaign.
“If you’re looking for someone to blame, Mr. Mayor, know that I did this.” he said in response to a tweet from Turner. “I prevented your communist friend from representing a large community. Welcome to the New Right.
The Huffington Gt