tags: Press Releases

The Ecosystem of Extremism, Violence and Hate Helped Fuel Racist White Nationalist Killings in Buffalo

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Zachary Mueller: “Republican leaders have been peddling hate, activating nativism and legitimizing white nationalism, and it comes with a mounting body count.”

Washington, DC – Yesterday, an 18-year old white supremacist gunman dressed in tactical gear and wielding an assault weapon, shot 13 people at a Buffalo supermarket, killing 10. Eleven of those shot were Black. The killer’s online manifesto includes a full-throated recitation of the Great Replacement Theory. It echoes the language employed by leading Republicans midterm campaigns. 

At other points in his white supremacist manifesto, the gunman asserts that America is in the midst of an “invasion on a level never seen before in history. Millions of people pouring across our borders” – similar to the “invasion” language and framing of dozens of Republican candidates and elected officials (see a snapshot of examples here).

Last Tuesday, America’s Voice issued a statement that started as follows: 

“A new AP-NORC poll finds that 3-in-10 Americans believe some version of the white nationalist ‘great replacement theory.’ This pernicious and racist lie has its origins in the eugenics movement and is frequently associated with anti-Semitism. It falsely claims that there is an intentional and coordinated plot to undermine democracy by replacing the voting power of whites through an invasion of non-white immigrants from the global south. 

This conspiracy theory, which used to be limited to the racist fringes of the Internet, has repeatedly inspired deadly mass violence. It first received broader notice after violent torch-wielding racists marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 chanting “Jews will not replace us,” a weekend that ended in the murder of Heather Heyer. But as America’s Voice has previously noted, this once-fringe and deadly conspiracy theory is now a central organizing principle of the GOP’s midterm strategy. It is being mainstreamed by the loudest voices in right wing media, led by Tucker Carlson, and echoed by an alarming range of Republican elected officials and candidates.

Some of these Republican allies and enablers of white nationalism focus on a related white nationalist conspiracy, hyping a supposed “invasion” of immigrants of color. The America’s Voice ad tracking project has identified 100 different Republican ads that employ the ‘invasion’ rhetoric over the last year…” 

Just two weeks ago, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told a House committee that, “Domestic violent extremism poses the greatest terrorism related threat to our homeland” and America’s Voice issued a related roundup of Republican voices from that week who instead of working to tamp down incendiary rhetoric that had a track record of inspiring domestic extremism were instead helping to mainstream it. 

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

Our hearts go out to the families in Buffalo reeling from yesterday’s shootings. Yet as we mourn the lives lost, we find ourselves wrestling with a palpable anger centered on the fact that the shootings were so sadly predictable. The white supremacist gunman, whose name we refuse to state, was responsible for yesterday’s massacre. But make no mistake about the throughline between his unhinged actions and vile beliefs and the ongoing mainstreaming of white nationalism and the ‘replacement’ and ‘invasion’ rhetoric from right wing media and the Republican Party.

Buffalo joins the litany of terrorist attacks committed by white nationalists in Charlottesville, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, at a synagogue in Poway, and a Walmart in El Paso. We have no illusions that yesterday’s killings will change the course of the Republican Party and the rightwing media ecosystem any more than those previous attacks did. We have no expectations that those responsible for mainstreaming hate and fear will seriously wrestle with how their dehumanizing rhetoric may have contributed to these attacks.

But it is time for decent people from across the political spectrum to stand up and denounce the dozens of GOP leaders and right-wing commentators who have stoked these dangerous and irresponsible conspiracy theories. This must stop. These politicians Rep. Elise Stefanik, Sen. Rick Scott, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rep. Michael McCaul, Ohio Senate candidate J.D Vance and many more, must be held to account. Their words create the climate in which these deadly terrorist attacks occur. Republican leaders have been peddling hate, activating nativism and legitimizing white nationalism, and it comes with a mounting body count.