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The Dangerous Embrace or Insidious Silence: the GOP Puts a Target on the Backs of Immigrants

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 As More Republicans Openly Espouse the White Nationalist Replacement Theory, Mainstream GOP Response is Either a Dangerous Embrace or an Insidious Silence


At a Trump rally in Mesa, Arizona, on October 9, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene took the stage to boost the Republican candidates running in the battleground state. In front of thousands of supporters, Taylor Greene peddled an unambiguous rendition of the white replacement lie:  

“Biden’s five million illegal aliens are on the verge of replacing you. Replacing your jobs. And replacing your kids in school. Coming from all over the world, they’re also replacing your culture.”

A statement that is indistinguishable from deadly white nationalists who have killed dozens of Americans in acts of terrorism over the last few years. In Charlottesville in 2017. In Pittsburgh in 2018. In El Paso in 2019. At the Capitol in 2021. And in Buffalo in May of this year. 

Taylor Greene’s presence at the Arizona rally and her explicit white nationalism was not an accident. She is not a fringe member Republicans are trying to distance themselves from, but someone they want to charge up their base. It would be wrong to dismiss her dangerous conspiracy-laden radicalism as a sideshow. The GOP sees Taylor Greene as their future, elevating her racism on one hand while pretending that she doesn’t represent the party when campaigning outside of their base.

As Lisa Mascaro noted in a piece titled “Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene rises from GOP fringe to front” for the Associated Press following Taylor Greene’s replacement comments:  

“Once shunned as a political pariah for her extremist rhetoric, the Georgia congresswoman who spent her first term in the House stripped of institutional power by Democrats is being celebrated by Republicans and welcomed into the GOP fold. If Republicans win the House majority in the November election, Greene is poised to become an influential player shaping the GOP agenda, an agitator with clout.”

While Taylor Greene elevates deadly racist lies about immigrants at a rally to boost turnout for Arizona Republicans, those same Republican candidates are deafeningly silent. 

In the hotly contested battleground in Arizona’s Sixth Congressional District, Republican Juan Ciscomani hasn’t said a thing to distance himself from the rally just north of the district where some speakers explicitly named Ciscomani as a candidate those in attendance should help support.  

The top-of-the-ticket Republican slate of candidates, Abe Hamadeh (Attorney General), Kari Lake (Governor), and Blake Masters (Senate) all took the stage after Taylor Greene’s explicit white nationalist comments and failed to condemn or distance themselves from these statements. Far from distancing herself from the white nationalism of Taylor Greene, Lake took the stage and reiterated her promise to declare migrants and asylum seekers an “invasion.” This rhetoric that is inexorably tied to the replacement theory and the racist mass murderers who have killed Americans all over the country. Lake has made this absurd and deadly conspiracy theory the centerpiece of her campaign. Masters and Hamadeh have also amplified this white nationalist fiction in their television commercials and throughout their campaigns. 

Taylor Greene and Lake are not outliers. America’s Voice GOP message tracking project has found well over 600 examples of Republican candidates and elected officials echoing replacement and invasion conspiracies, including the third-ranking House Republican, Elise Stefanik, and Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Nor is the cowardice to condemn the open white nationalism in their party isn’t limited to  Arizona Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to condemn the replacement theory.  

Republicans’ silence in the face of full-throated embrace by their colleagues of the same white nationalist lies espoused by several domestic terrorists is not just a gross failure of leadership, it is active complicity in the deadly downstream consequences of that racist rhetoric, including encouraging more white nationalist domestic terrorism and laying the groundwork for destabilizing American democracy through the myth there is an organized force of illegitimate votes cast by non-white ‘replacers.’ 

These are not idle concerns. The consequences of these racist lies are tragically all too present. The stakes are too high and the dangers too great to ignore the Republicans’ embrace of “replacement” and “invasion” conspiracies. Every Republican candidate who refuses to forcibly and publicly denounce this embrace also owns them.