Week of May 8, 2023
THREE OPPOSITION MESSAGES FROM THE WEEK
- ‘The Sky is Falling’- the Racist Hysteria Over Title 42: The clock struck midnight on May 11, and the United States is still standing, but the retractions of the hysteria won’t be forthcoming. This week, Fox ran a doomsday countdown clock throughout the week, displaying it on their big board and the side chyron. Predictably, FOX News and other right-wing outlets were perched on the border, waiting for the equally predictable increase in families desperately seeking asylum. But many were seemingly disappointed that the lack of chaos they predicted. And while there are undeniable challenges and much to criticize about the response, it is equally undeniable that dehumanization and white nationalist conspiracy theory framing is both untrue and deeply dangerous. The opposition will run with this story and these images over the next weeks and months to support the nativist narrative, with the clips running B-roll soon to make it to strategic racist political ads. Check out our Three Key Points To Keep In Mind As Title 42 Winds Down for more resources and guidance
- Inciting More White Nationalist Violence: This week, Republicans employed the white nationalist great replacement conspiracy theory with vigor. We have tracked at least 28 members of Congress that amplified the deadly racist fiction this week alone. This rhetoric came in the form of fearmongering about the end of Title 42 and promoting HR2. It came in the backdrop of repeated warnings for DHS about violent domestic extremist threats around the end of Title 42, what appeared to be racist-motivated mass murders in Texas over the weekend, and the upcoming one-year anniversary of the terrorist attack in Buffalo. Republicans actively court more mass racist political violence with their dehumanizing language. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), all but explicitly called for political violence while elevating white nationalist conspiracy theories that have been directly connected to multiple deadly domestic terrorist attacks. Gosar shared a graphic with a quote that asserted, “America is under a planned and sustained invasion – we must act accordingly.”
- Republicans Pass the Child Deportation Act (H.R.2) with Party Line Vote: Republicans passed an extreme, cruel, and unworkable fundraising stunt with HR2. Likely DOA in the Senate the GOP’s legislative vision would add more chaos and dysfunction to an already broken immigration system rather than advancing serious and popular solutions. It would gut asylum, increase child and family detention, and create a show-me-your-papers scenario in the midst of future natural disaster relief efforts. And revealing the Majority’s driving motivation Rep. McClintock of California initiated the debate, by invoking the white nationalist great replacement conspiracy theory, followed by at least 6 other Members who did the same. (Read our more detailed take on H.R. 2, here.)
- President: CNN’s Donald Trump town hall was an unhinged affair from start to finish, but there are three things to note on our issue. (1) After the moderator continued to press on Trump’s election denial, Trump tried to pivot out of the topic with an “open borders” line, a signal that nativism is still where he feels in safe territory. (2) In response to a question about Title 42, Trump unsurprisingly turned to doomsday predictions saying, “Tomorrow will be a day of infamy… our country is being destroyed.” (3) And in a deeply concerning move, Trump falsely asserted that family separation was an effective deterrence policy and suggested restarting the horrific program if he gets back to the White House.
- Florida – Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB1718 Florida’s version of show-me-your-papers into law this week. While DeSantis is clearly convinced harming the state’s economy is worth the political points he wins from a radicalized MAGA base for demagoguing and bullying immigrant communities, time will tell the long-term efficacy of this sort of destructive politics. Notably, Rep. María Elvira Salazar (FL-27) voted for HR2 and did not raise significant public concern over SB1718. While Salazar isn’t the most vulnerable member in terms of sheer partisan lean, her support and silence on major pieces of xenophobic legislation could be vulnerabilities and not likely assets her ‘24 will be keen to highlight.
- Battleground House Members: We are still a ways away from the 2024 election, but the GOP’s nine-seat majority has 18 members in districts Biden won in 2020, and this week’s HR2 vote is indicative of the sort of extremism they will likely continue to empower over the next 18 months. While one vote is unlikely to be the death knell of any campaign battleground House Republicans like David Valadao (CA-22), Juan Ciscomani (AZ-06), Mike Lawler (NY-17), Monica de la Cruz (TX-15), Marc Molinaro (NY-19 ), Tom Kean (NJ-07), Jen Kiggans (VA-02), Don Bacon (NE-02), and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05) voted this week for an extreme anti-immigrant bill that is as counterproductive as it is cruel, legislation that their colleagues promoted with white nationalists conspiracy theories.
WEEKLY STATS OF NATIVIST NARRATIVE
- Of the 400 GOP Twitter accounts we track, this week, they sent:
- 803 original tweets peddling anti-immigrant attacks mentioning “border”
- 115 original tweets about “open borders,” with Marjorie Taylor Greene tweet having the most reach with 1.2M Views, 3,624 Retweets, and 10.2K Likes.
- 76 original tweets that used “Biden Border Crisis” with Ted Cruz tweet having the most reach with 137.7K Views, 1,331 Retweets, and 4,489 Likes.
- 69 original tweets that mentioned both “fentanyl” and “border” with Byron Donalds tweet having the most reach with 892.6K views, 5,149 Retweets and 28.2K Likes.