tags: , , Press Releases

Dangerous Nativist Conspiracies Being Pushed By Right Wing Media and Republican Officials

Share This:

Douglas Rivlin: “There’s no longer a divide between the ugly and dangerous misinformation in the fever swamps of the right wing media and the Republican Party as an institution. They own it all.”

Washington, DC – This week brings several reminders how right wing xenophobic conspiracy theories can have real world consequences. They underscore that the unhinged misinformation isn’t limited to the anti-immigrant fringe or right wing media talking heads. Instead, the nativist conspiracies are also being espoused and encouraged by Republican candidates and elected officials, without regard to real world consequences:

  • The National Butterfly Center, a nature sanctuary located along the border in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, has announced it will close indefinitely following Pizzagate-style right wing conspiracy theories. As the Los Angeles Times explains: “For the last few years, the center has also become the target of harassment from right-wing extremists because of a conspiracy theory that claims it is being used for child trafficking … On Friday, the Daily Beast reported that fringe [Virginia GOP] congressional candidate Kimberly Lowe and another woman claiming to be with the Secret Service showed up unannounced and got involved in an altercation with [Butterfly Center executive director Mariana] Treviño Wright and her son.”
  • Republicans and right wing embrace “migrant ghost flights” falsehood. As Glenn Kessler, fact checker for the Washington Post, writes:  “Ghost flights! Secret flights with ‘underage migrants’ in the dead of night! Buses packed with adult ‘illegal aliens!’ If you are not a regular watcher of Fox News or a reader of the New York Post, Breitbart or the Daily Mail, you might be puzzled by the references above. There’s been virtually no coverage of this supposed news by mainstream media outlets. But there’s been a constant drumbeat of concern in right-wing media, highlighted often by GOP candidates running for governor in Pennsylvania and New York.” Kessler highlights a letter from Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a member of GOP House Leadership, leaning into the “ghost flight” fiction. See this explainer from Aaron Reichlin-Melnick of the American Immigration Council on why this is the normal operation of the U.S. immigration system on display and not unique to Biden.
  • Misinformation over H2-A nursery workers leads to a potentially dangerous situation near Orlando-area hotel. Earlier this week, we highlighted how the local Fox station in Orlando “was inundated with calls and emails to investigate a viral video spreading online,” showing a group of Hispanic men entering a local hotel that Republican congressional candidate Laura Loomer and right wing anti-immigrant activists were convinced were part of these “ghost flights” (in fact, they were workers with approved H2-A temporary visas who had been contracted legally by a local nursery). The facts did not stop dozens of people from holding a protest outside the hotel). 

The Orlando hotel incident, which thankfully did not turn violent, and the butterfly sanctuary altercation are examples of how xenophobia-drenched misinformation and conspiracy theories pushed by Republican candidates and party leadership can have real world consequences. In other places, such as El Paso and Pittsburgh, xenophobic misinformation, conspiracies, and dehumanizing rhetoric has taken a deadly turn.

According to Douglas Rivlin, Director of Communication for America’s Voice:

Only the GOP could make butterflies a menace to our nation. 

We know where this conspiracy stuff leads. Crazy and dangerous theories have moved from the fringe into the mainstream of the Republican party. From all indications, the leaders of the Republican Party feel that threatening or committing violence is normal. A rightwinger shot up a pizza parlor around the corner from where I grew up in Washington, convinced a human trafficking ring directed by Hillary Clinton operated in its basement. Rightwingers murdered scores of people in Pittsburgh and El Paso, convinced that immigrants and refugees were being imported into America to replace white Americans. Rightwingers launched a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol, convinced by baseless conspiracy theories about a free and fair election that Republican leaders insisted was stolen.

Increasingly, unhinged and race-based anti-immigrant conspiracies are being deployed by right wing media and activists as well as Republican candidates and campaigns. Feeding and amplifying these conspiracy theories is seen as a tool of voter mobilization at the highest levels of Republican leadership. There’s no longer a divide between the ugly and dangerous misinformation in the fever swamps of the right wing media and the Republican Party as an institution. They own it all.

  • See here for a recent AV roundup of GOP anti-immigrant ads and statements on display just the past few weeks.
  • Check out ongoing examples of Republicans’ anti-immigrant ads at the America’s Voice GOP Ad Tracker: http://gopadtracker.com/