tags: Press Releases

Despite Evidence, Rep. Stefanik Denies Role in Mainstreaming “Invasion” and “Great Replacement” Conspiracy Theories

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Washington, DC – Following the white supremacist killings in Buffalo, we highlighted how the gunman’s online manifesto included Great Replacement Theory and “invasion” language that echoed those of Republican candidates and elected officials, and called them out for helping to mainstream these vile conspiracies. Others in the media made similar connections, including a Washington Post article specifically calling out the third-ranking House Republican, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), for her embrace of such language.

In response, Rep. Stefanik issued a defensive statement that was a blanket denial, refusing to admit any role in mainstreaming such conspiracies and attempting to blame the media and “the Left” for “false reporting.” 

We’ll let you be the judge – below we offer a reminder of the white nationalist conspiracies spouted by the gunman and touted by mainstream Republicans and offer examples and links to their usage by Rep. Stefanik as well as other supposedly “mainstream” Republicans, including National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chair Senator Rick Scott and dozens of other Republicans around the country.

Why “Replacement” and “Invasion” White Nationalist Conspiracies are Related

The “replacement” conspiracy hinges on the belief that Jews and “the Left” are looking to replace white Americans with immigrants and non-white voters to take over and transform the country. The “invasion” conspiracy, more commonly-touted by Republicans, is directly linked to replacement theory and the same white nationalist worldview and asserts that those coming to our southern border to request asylum constitute an “invasion.” The subtext is not subtle: “the dangerous other is invading us so they can replace us.” 

In fact, the Buffalo gunman’s white supremacist manifesto made the connection explicit. Alongside the full-throated embrace of “replacement theory,” the gunman asserted that America is in the midst of an “invasion on a level never seen before in history. Millions of people pouring across our borders.” This is similar to the “invasion” language and framing of dozens of Republican candidates and elected officials

Rep. Elise Stefanik: Examples of “Replacement” and “Invasion” Usage

  • August and September 2021: Touting replacement theory to more than 1 million Facebook users: As we highlighted last September, Rep. Stefanik ran a series of Facebook ads in August and September 2021 that warned more than 1 million Facebook users that Democrats were planning to create a “PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION”; touting that Democrats’ “plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate”; asserting that Democrats were attempting to “flood our voter rolls.” 
  • April and May 2022: Touting “invasion” rhetoric on Steve Bannon’s podcast, on House floor, and at GOP presser: In April, Rep. Stefanik appeared on the Steve Bannon podcast and said, “it is an invasion…you do not have a country if you do not have secure borders.” Later in April, she said on the House floor, “this has been an invasion” of our southern border.  In May, she appeared at a House GOP press conference and stated, “…and make no mistake, this is an invasion.”

NRSC Chair Senator Rick Scott and Other Republicans Embracing “Invasion” Framing

  • February 2022: Senator Scott uses “invasion” framing at CPAC in a keynote: In February 2022 at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference, Senator Scott stated in his keynote address, “Build the damn wall and name it after Trump,” and warned of a “dangerous invasion at the border, drugs, and criminals marching in every day.” 
  • March 2022 TV ad: Senator Scott asserts “the border’s being invaded.” See the ad here at America’s Voice’s GOP ad tracker.
  • Just in the past year, the America’s Voice ad tracking project has identified 100 different Republican ads that employ the “invasion” rhetoric. 
  • Take a look at a single congressional oversight hearing of DHS on April 28 for a snapshot of how pervasive Republicans’ use is:

The following is a statement from Zachary Mueller, America’s Voice Political Director:

White nationalism, and violence inspired by racist conspiracy theories, are huge threats to our multiracial democracy. The Republican Party, including those in leadership positions, are helping to mainstream and promote this hate. 

Unfortunately, Rep. Stefanik’s blanket denial and defensiveness about her role in fueling these dangerous lies is a reminder that instead of being chastened, Republicans will refuse to admit that they are helping to mainstream noxious ideas once restricted to the online fringes. We don’t expect the GOP to seriously wrestle with how their dehumanizing rhetoric and mainstreaming of “replacement” and “invasion” ideas may contribute to violence, but we do expect decent people from across the political spectrum to stand up and denounce the dozens of GOP leaders who have stoked these dangerous and irresponsible conspiracy theories. There must be political accountability for those who put us all at risk by using their positions of elected power to spread racist and deadly lies. This must stop.