The mass shooting in Buffalo was the work of a lone gunman but not the product of an isolated ideology.
In a manifesto, the suspect detailed how he viewed Black people as “replacers” of white Americans. The massacre at the grocery store on Saturday trained a harsh light on the “great replacement theory,” which the authorities say he used to justify an act of racist violence — and on how that theory has migrated from the far-right fringes of American discourse toward the center of Republican politics.
Republicans across the spectrum were quick to denounce the killings. But fewer party leaders appeared willing to break with the politics of nativism and fear the party has embraced to retain the loyalties of right-wing voters inspired by Donald J. Trump.
One Republican, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, on Monday called out her colleagues for not doing enough to squash the extremist wing of her own party.
“House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism,” Ms. Cheney, the former No. 3 House Republican who was removed from that role over her criticism of Mr. Trump, wrote on Twitter. “History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”House Republican leaders have at times tolerated the extremist views from some in their ranks. Last year, far-right Republican members of Congress circulated plans to create an “America First Caucus,” where the section on immigration talked about the importance of “uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.” The idea was scrapped but those involved continued to make waves for their flirtation with white nationalism.
In February, when Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona participated in a conference organized by Nick Fuentes, a white supremacist, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, called their actions “appalling and wrong,” but he did not formally rebuke or punish them.
Since then, Republicans have used rhetoric that suggests a tacit willingness to try to appeal to elements of the far right. Ahead of November’s midterm elections, Republican candidates have ramped up warnings about the threats being posed to what is cast as real or traditional America. Often unsaid is what that bygone era looks like: white, male-dominated, Judeo-Christian and heterosexual.Issue after issue has been recast as a reason for Republican voters to fear for their culture and values: Transgender rights threaten girls sports. The removal of statues threatens to expunge Confederate history in the South and other white historical figures elsewhere. Critical race theory is portrayed as rewriting American history — and overhauling how it is taught — to emphasize episodes of racism.
Even the recent baby formula shortage has been falsely reimagined as so acute because of giveaways to feed undocumented children.
More than a dozen candidates and outside groups have run ads warning of an immigrant “invasion” in the country or otherwise diluting the power of native-born citizens. Several candidates have falsely said that Democrats are opening the border specifically to let undocumented people in to vote.
“If Joe Biden keeps shipping illegal immigrants into our states, we’re all going to have to learn Spanish,” Gov. Kay Ivey, Republican of Alabama, said in one television ad ahead of her May 24 primary.In another, Ms. Ivey held up her conservative state as a bastion of disappearing values: “When I taught school, we said a prayer, pledged allegiance, and taught the basics,” she said. “Today, the left teaches kids to hate America. But not here. Biden’s critical race theory: racist, wrong and dead as a doornail. Transgender sports: toast.”
Republicans have pushed back aggressively against accusations that their language and actions have perpetuated the kind of racism and xenophobia that appeared to be behind the massacre in Buffalo.
The stoking of fear and grievances was a hallmark of Mr. Trump’s rise, though its roots far predate him. A quarter-century earlier, Pat Buchanan fashioned himself as an “America first” candidate in his right-wing challenge to former President George Bush in 1992, a tagline that Mr. Trump would repurpose. But Mr. Buchanan, who lost the Republican presidential nomination in 1992 and again in 1996, was largely shunned by his party for writing about “immigrant invasions” eroding Western society.
Mr. Trump opened his 2016 presidential campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and soon after he promoted a ban on Muslims entering the country. At the time, many top party officials reacted with outrage.
Now, much of the Republican Party and the conservative media apparatus are speaking with the same nationalistic voice, from Tucker Carlson on Fox News in prime time to even more hard-right alternatives like Newsmax and One America News Network.
Mr. Trump no longer seems to be driving the conversation on the right so much as keeping up with it.
At a rally in western Pennsylvania this month, he railed against the “illegal aliens” he said were pouring “into our homeland.”
“Our country is full, we can’t take it anymore,” he said. “They are trying to destroy our country.”
“Unfortunately, the party is becoming one of resentment and anger as opposed to solutions and common ground,” said Mike DuHaime, a longtime Republican strategist. He did not predict it would hamper Republicans in elections this year but said it would pose a challenge eventually. “Resentment and anger can get you short-term victories but it won’t build a governing coalition to build long-term policy change.”
Mainstream Republicans have repeatedly suggested that lax enforcement of the border is somehow part of a longer-term Democratic strategy. In Missouri, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, a Senate candidate, said on Glenn Beck’s program last month that Democrats were “fundamentally trying to change this country through their illegal immigration policy.”
Other Republicans have been more specific, suggesting Democrats have political aims.
In Wisconsin, Senator Ron Johnson, who is up for re-election this fall, said last year that “you have to ask yourself why” the Biden administration wanted, as he put it, open borders. “Is it really,” he postulated, “they want to remake the demographics of America to insure their — that they stay in power forever?” (On Monday evening, he tweeted: “Pushing the lie that criticizing this admin’s policies in any way supports ‘replacement theory’ is another example of the corporate media working overtime to cover up the Biden admin’s failures.”)And in Ohio, the Senate candidate J.D. Vance pre-empted potential accusations of racism. “Are you a racist? Do you hate Mexicans?” he asked in his campaign’s opening television ad. Later in the spot, he spoke about how loose border policies were there to ensure “more Democrat voters pouring into this country.”
This strategy reclaiming the racist label — and recasting oneself as the victim — has also been used by Blake Masters, a Senate candidate in Arizona, who is backed by the same billionaire, Peter Thiel, as Mr. Vance.
“If you connect the dots as a candidate for office and say, look, obviously the Democrats, they hope to just change the demographics of our country,” Mr. Masters said in a podcast interview last month. “They hope to import an entirely new electorate and they call you a racist and a bigot.”
Political scientists and historians say the harsher, more dehumanizing language stirring fear of demographic change has became more pervasive and salient among Republican voters as pro-business Republicans who were once vocally in favor of immigration have become fewer among their ranks and Republican leaders have declined to push back against the more extreme political language.
The great replacement theory has its origins in France, where it was popularized by a book of the same title published in 2012 by the novelist and critic Renaud Camus. Mr. Camus chiefly argued that demographic shifts in majority white, Christian countries in Europe threaten “ethnic and civilizational substitution.”
By 2017, white supremacist groups embraced Mr. Camus’ ideas, employing antisemitic conspiracy theories. They adopted a new slogan — alternately “Jews will not replace us” or “You will not replace us” — chanted at rallies, most infamously at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., that August, where a white nationalist killed a counterprotester. White supremacists who committed mass killings in Christchurch, New Zealand, and El Paso, Tex., in 2019 both referred to the theory in their respective manifestoes.
“These conspiracies are at the core of the Republican Party right now and I don’t think it’s partisan to say that,” said Amy Spitalnick, the executive director of Integrity First for America, which won a lawsuit against the organizers of the 2017 Charlottesville rally.
Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, who represents a district in Northern New York and who replaced Ms. Cheney last year as the No. 3 House Republican, ran an online ad last fall about how “amnesty” to the undocumented would “overthrow our current electorate.”
Her office put out a statement on Monday accusing the news media of “disgraceful, dishonest and dangerous” smears in linking her rhetoric to the Buffalo attack in any way.
“The shooting was an act of evil,” said her spokesman, Alex DeGrasse, who added in a statement about “illegals” that she “has never advocated for any racist position or made a racist statement.”
Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican, said on Monday that “it’s unfortunate that there are sites out there where these people go and get these crazy ideas in their head and act on it.” When asked about his colleagues who have repeated elements of replacement theory, he added: “Nobody should be giving voice to or support in any way to some of these things.”
New York Times, May 17, 2022
May 17, 2022
Voices4America Post Script. Share this! A Must Read. The violence in Buffalo belongs to the GOP! This article quotes many, many Republican candidates and officials who embrace the rage and fear of the #RepublicanRaplacementTheory. Primaries today - Idaho, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania. #VoteBlue2022
from the New York Times today:
The Buffalo Shooting Was Not a Random Act of Violence.
“Republican politicians, including some of the party’s top leaders, openly espouse versions of a white supremacist conspiracy theory holding that an orchestrated effort is underway to displace white Americans. A recently published poll found that almost half of Republicans believe that immigrants are being brought to the United States as part of such an effort.”