tags: Press Releases

Secretary Mayorkas Affirms White Nationalist “Invasion” Rhetoric “Fuels” Threat of Violent Domestic Extremism

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Washington, DC – The most notable component of yesterday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing, featuring the testimony of DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, was not House Republicans’ predictable pre-baked attacks and falsehoods (many of which we previewed here).

Instead, it was multiple House Democrats and Secretary Mayorkas highlighting the link between political rhetoric that mainstreams white nationalist conspiracies, such as “invasion” and “replacement,” and real world violence linked to these lies and perpetrated by domestic white nationalists. The most revealing example was during Rep. Hank Johnson’s (D-GA) questioning of Secretary Mayorkas:

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA): “When elected officials repeat great replacement rhetoric, including the language of invasion, are they putting a target on the backs of immigrants and people of color?”

Secretary Mayorkas: “It certainly fuels the threat landscape we encounter.”

As a reminder, domestic extremists – predominantly right wing violent extremists – pose the greatest lethal terrorism threat to the U.S. per our government’s own assessments. Yet, Republicans have been mainstreaming white nationalist conspiracies that have been cited by these domestic extremists themselves. Updated analysis from America’s Voice released yesterday identified 90 examples of Republican Members of the 118th Congress amplifying dangerous white nationalist conspiracy theories in their official capacity, including 11 Members of the House Judiciary Committee alone. This despite the links between these conspiracies and deadly acts of violence in places such as El Paso, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo.

  • As Jerry Nadler’s (D-NY) opening remarks asserted: “We can draw a straight line from the hateful rhetoric we hear from some congressional Republicans to that horrific tragedy [the El Paso shooting in 2019]. Our words matter.”
  • Meanwhile, after recapping the “apocalyptic fantasy” that MAGA Republicans are describing regarding the state of our border and the supposed threat posed by migrants and asylum seekers, Johnson also noted, “In reality, the greatest threat facing our homeland is white nationalist ideology that lies beneath such rhetoric.”

Unfortunately, we also saw fresh examples of Republicans mainstreaming these conspiracies yesterday:

  • Troy Nehls (R-TX): At the House Judiciary Committee hearing, Rep. Nehls endorsed a dog-whistle version of the great replacement conspiracy theory, articulating the core lie that there is a conspiracy by liberals to usurp American democracy and replace white people, stating “Mr. Mayorkas, there is a reason why you and Joe Biden have allowed 5.5 million people to cross our southern border; this is about votes and elections.”
  • Eli Crane (R-AZ): At a separate House Homeland Security Committee hearing yesterday, Rep. Crane asserted, “we have this complete invasion at our southern border.” As Secretary Mayorkas pointed out earlier in the day, this exact rhetoric “fuels the threat landscape we encounter.”

According to Zachary Mueller, Political Director of America’s Voice:

“The exchange between Rep. Hank Johnson and Secretary Mayorkas affirmed what we have been warning about for years: when elected leaders amplify white nationalist conspiracy theories of the far right, they create a climate that encourages the horrific acts of domestic terrorism we have witnessed in Pittsburgh, El Paso, and Buffalo. This threat is ongoing and as some House Republicans simultaneously demonstrated, they seem committed to making the problem worse, actively putting a target on the backs of Americans because of the color of their skin, the accent they speak with or the religion they practice. Far too many Republican members of Congress are using the power and legitimacy of the congressional dais to promote this deadly hate, while there is deafening silence from their Republican colleagues. As Secretary Mayorkas confirmed, the words of some House Republicans are a threat to public safety.”

Read the America’s Voice backgrounder with updated statistics and examples of GOP usage of white nationalist conspiracies here.