Chanting "White lives matter," "You will not replace us" and "Jews will not replace us," several hundred white nationalists and white supremacists carrying torches march in Charlottesville on Aug. 11, 2017, during the Unite the Right Rally. Photo for The Washington Post by Evelyn HocksteinEvelyn Hoc
Back in 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Va., carrying torches and chanting, "You will not replace us" and "Jews will not replace us." Decent Americans recoiled at the undeniable echo of Nazi Germany.That rhetoric has been resonating ever since in the right wing, repackaged lately in what's known as "replacement theory," espoused by conservative media figures like Fox News' Tucker Carlson. And it has seeped into the mainstream political discourse in the Capital Region, where Rep. Elise Stefanik has adapted this despicable tactic for campaign ads.
Ms. Stefanik isn't so brazen as to use the slogans themselves; rather, she couches the hate in alarmist anti-immigrant rhetoric that's become standard fare for the party of Donald Trump. And she doesn't quite attack immigrants directly; instead, she alleges that Democrats are looking to grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants in order to gain a permanent liberal majority, or, as she calls it, a "permanent election insurrection." Quite a choice of words, of course, considering that the country is still suffering the aftershocks of the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington by supporters of Mr. Trump who tried to overturn Democrat Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election.The Harvard-educated Ms. Stefanik surely knows the sordid history and context of this. The idea of stoking racial, ethnic, and religious tribalism among voters dates back to this country's earliest days. At various times, politicians have warned that Catholics, Jews, or Muslims were out to change the "culture," or that Irish, Italian, Asian or eastern European immigrants would take the jobs — to "replace" white, Protestant Americans. Mr. Trump made attacking Mexicans and Muslims a hallmark of his 2016 campaign, his presidency, and his current rants from the political sidelines.
Racist demagogues in Europe, too, have been milking fears about the influx of immigrants and refugees from the Middle East in their suggestion of a covert plot to "conquer" Europe. It was standard fare for years on U.S. talk radio before Mr. Trump and Fox News brought it into the primetime mainstream.
These fear-based political tactics ignore U.S. history and some important realities of our society and economy. America flourished because immigrants contributed to its labor force and its culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Today, according to the American Immigration Council, they make up over a third of the farming, fishing, and forestry workforce, and one-fourth of those working in computer and math sciences. Over four million immigrants work in the health care and social service industry. In many cases, they are doing jobs American citizens don't want to do.
The idea of America as a melting pot is not some idealistic fiction of the left; it is part of the foundation of this nation's greatness. It is in this country's best interests to bring those millions of people who are here illegally but living honest, productive lives out of the shadows and give them a path to citizenship — an idea even some Republican lawmakers once supported before Mr. Trump and his ilk poisoned the debate.
If there's anything that needs replacing in this country — and in the Republican party — it's the hateful rhetoric that Ms. Stefanik and far too many of her colleagues so shamelessly spew.
Times Union Editorial Board, September 17, 2021.
September 19, 2021
Elise Stefanik is a Republican Congresswoman from NY District 21. She came to the public's attention in her support of Donald Trump during both his impeachments.
Later in 2021, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy chose Stefanik to be #3 in GOP leadership to replace Congresswoman Liz Cheney, who supported Trump's second impeachment and recognized the the January 6th attack on the Capitol was an insurrection inspired by Trump.
Voices4America Post Script. Rachel Maddow- Blistering hometown editorial against Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik. Me -#StefanikLowestOfLo