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Combating the Nativist Narrative – Weekly Summary of May 15, 2023

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Week of May 15, 2023


  • Zero-sum politics with migrants set against schools and veterans: This week, right-wing outlets ran a headline story about 20 houseless veterans who were allegedly kicked out of a hotel to make space for asylum seekers in upstate New York. But the story wasn’t true. It was an internally choreographed fiction to peddle the nativist attack. Though, don’t hold your breath for retractions from the numerous right-wing outfits that breathlessly ran with the story or the elected Republicans who cynically amplified it. And in a similar vein, there was juxtaposed concern about temporarily housing migrants in public school facilities as the school year comes to a close.  While parents’ outrage may be organic and real from the perceived threat from the “other,” political leaders and media outfits have a role to play in calming these troubling tendencies. When this sentiment is inflamed, it has historically and predictably led to very dark and ugly places. However, several Republicans and right-wing media have sought to fan the flames for their own cynical pursuit of power and profit. There is a lot of room here in this story to encourage our better angels and condemn those with power who are exploiting a challenging situation with divisive politics. 
  • Echoing the Buffalo mass murderer or remaining silent on the anniversary:  Over the last weekend, many remembered the horrific white nationalist domestic terror attack at a Buffalo, New York supermarket that took the lives of 10 of our fellow Americans. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the Republican party leadership, who were silent on the one-year anniversary of the tragedy. Worse, several elected Republicans spent the weekend peddling the very rhetoric and conspiracy theories that motivated the mass murderer. Not only is this deeply disrespectful, it creates a real threat to public safety.  As Amy Spitalnick, the incoming CEO of Jewish Council for Public Affairs, testified in a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Tuesday, when “white supremacist views like the Great Replacement theory, talking about things like an invasion” are “normalized and mainstreamed” and are “espoused by elected officials and candidates, what that does is then give license to the violent extremists like those who marched on Charlottesville or shot up the synagogue in Pittsburgh or, the Walmart in El Paso or the supermarket in Buffalo who in their manifestos use that very same great replacement theory to justify the murder of Jewish people, black people, immigrants, and so many others.”
  • Battleground Republicans pretend they voted for something other than the extreme HR2: Republican House members in tough battleground districts and those who hold themselves out as so-called sensible moderates on the immigration issue instead delivered critical support for HR 2 and gave a win to the extremists and obstructionists in their party. Either afraid of the extremism in the anti-immigration bill or somehow unaware of its contents, these battleground Republicans issued several statements that  read as if they passed a moderate proposal that paves the way for future reforms. The distance between what battleground members are willing to vote for and what they want their constituents to believe they support is quite revealing of the vulnerability Republicans face with their nativist narrative outside their committed base. (Check out our analysis here.) 


  • AZ-09 – This week’s report from TPM identified two staffers in Rep. Paul Gosar’s office (R-AZ), his Digital Director, and an intern who are active white supremacists aligned with Nick Fuentes. This is just the latest in the flow of hate pouring out of Gosar’s office. Speaker McCarthy and his Republican colleagues are so far silent on the white supremacy of their fellow Republicans. (America’s Voice created a TikTok to highlight this story, which you can check out here.)
  • TX-15 – Democrat Michelle Vallejo announced she would seek a rematch against Republican Monica De La Cruz for this battleground border district. Not skipping a beat, the CLF is already hitting Vallejo with the nativist narrative. “In the midst of a border crisis, the radical liberal – who previously lost by 8 points – stood by extreme policies like supporting a ‘no borders’ movement and even hosting a ‘border resistance’ event,” read the CLF press release this week. As Daily Kos reported Vallejo didn’t receive much in the way of outside support for this important district with “the two biggest GOP House outside groups deployed $2.3 million while their Democratic counterparts spent almost nothing” in this race last year. 
  • The American Action Network (AAN), the big money superPAC aligned with congressional Republican leadership, dropped three cut-and-paste ads this week targeting Mary Peltola (AK-AL), Gabe Vasquez  (NM-02), and Emilia Sykes (OH-13) for allegedly being soft on crime and highlighting a protest sign calling for the abolition of ICE. Clearly lacking a new message, we have seen ads almost exactly like this for the past several cycles. While their efficacy is questionable at best, we will likely see ads like this all the way through November 2024.