tags: Press Releases

Government Focuses on Threat of White Replacement Theory Driving Racist Violence for an Anti-Democratic Project; Republicans Bury Heads in Sand

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“While some in Congress look to marshal an effort to push back on this immediate threat, GOP leadership apparently believes it is in their best self interest to ignore the problem or amplify it”

Washington, DC – This week, the Senate held two separate Committee hearings that focused on white supermacist domestic extremism. The House voted to condemn the “replacement theory” and is set to hold prime time January 6th hearings starting this evening. The threat from racist lies and violence about “replacement” and “invasions” fuel the anti-democratic, anti-majoritarian Republican project and provide the throughline for Congressional Democrats this week. Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are either burying their heads in the sand or are outright cheering on the violence – with the two notable exceptions of Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

In an op-ed published by Yahoo News, Center for Popular Democracy co-Executive Director DaMareo Cooper draws important linkages between the same white nationalist “replacement” and “invasion” conspiracies that led to the killings in Buffalo and the underlying motivations and beliefs behind the January 6th insurrection.

As Cooper writes in, “How The White Replacement Theory Behind The Buffalo Shooting Also Fueled The January 6 Insurrection:

“The upcoming January 6 Committee hearings will undoubtedly provide ultra right-wing lawmakers and insurrectionists the opportunity to double down on their claims that the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen. But the insurrection wasn’t about election security. It was about a long-held white nationalist paranoia that their country is being ‘stolen’ from them — which is laughable given that this nation was built on stolen land using stolen labor from stolen people.

However, the hearings won’t dig deep into how white replacement theory and white annihilation anxiety inflamed a violent mob to storm the Capitol the day Congress ratified the presidential election results. But it should.

Robert Pape at University of Chicago, one of the expert witnesses from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this week, has also made this connection finding belief in “white replacement” was a main driver for insurrectionists and writing, in his  testimony:

“Violent populism is rising in America. Events like the Buffalo shooting that target minority populations and January 6th that threaten our democracy are not simply a continuation of long-standing trends, but reflect the consequences of extremist ideas moving from the fringe to the mainstream.”

Eric K. Ward, Executive Director at Western States Center, who provided expert testimony at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing today, outlined how these violent anti-democratic ideas have been mainstreamed writing:

“Over the last several years, the antisemitic conspiracy called the “great replacement” theory has surged into the political mainstream. The violence and physical harm spawned by the conspiracy isn’t a bug but a feature.”

Meanwhile Republicans refused to vote to condemn these violent racist lies. Lead by Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), the House voted on a resolution condemning the white supremacist conspiracy theory late last night. As Rep. Bowman wrote on Twitter following the vote:

“We must tackle both gun reform and fight against hate of all kind to truly eradicate these shocking and shattering mass killings. Congress cannot sit by idly and pretend not to see the impact of the Great Replacement Theory in fueling these acts of terrorism. Today, I am proud to stand here and lead the introduction of this resolution that condemns the Great Replacement Theory as a white supremacist conspiracy theory that seeks to murder minorities, Jews, Muslims and immigrants alike.”

Meanwhile, Republicans’ and right wing media attempts to counter-program the January 6 hearings, and journalists who “both sides” and minimize the January 6 attack, mimic the House Republican refusal to take responsibility or denounce “invasion” and “white replacement” conspiracies. Even after Buffalo, Senate Republicans such as Ted Cruz attempted to distract eyeballs away from the threats they helped nurture and mainstream during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the domestic terror threats that led to Buffalo.

Finally, also relevant to the linkage of January 6th and those most invested in nativist, white nationalist conspiracies are figures such as Stewart Rhodes, the founder of the far-right paramilitary Oath Keepers. In addition to his prominent role around the January 6th insurrection, Rhodes warned of migrant “invasion” in 2018, stating:

“That’s the endgame for the Democratic Party, it’s what they want, which is to bring in more voters that they think will vote Democrat. That’s the whole point. And so we have to stop that. It’s an existential threat to the survival of our nation.”

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

The violence we witnessed on January 6, 2021 and the violence we witnessed in Buffalo, El Paso, Charlottesville and at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh are all birthed from the same fears. Led by the highest leadership of the Republican Party and their most popular media figures and absorbed by their most ardent followers, the fear that white Americans are being intentionally replaced by non-white Americans and that the country, and our elections, are being stolen animates violent actions.

This week provides a throughline we cannot afford to ignore. A racist, anti-Semitic and violent “white replacement” lie has moved from the margins to the mainsteam and is racking up a horrifc body count on its path to undermine the fragile American proimise of a multi-racial democracy. While some in Congress look to marshal an effort to push back on this immediate threat, GOP leadership apparently believes it is in their best self interest to ignore the problem or amplify it. Republicans would rather indulge their base’s worst fears and magnify them rather than put country above party and confront the falsehoods and fears head on.