tags: Press Releases

The Silence is Deafening and Deadly: Time to Hold Republicans Accountable for White Nationalist Hate

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Washington, DC – Last weekend, a white supremacist gunman killed 10 people in Buffalo. His online manifesto included full-throated recitations of the white nationalist “white replacement” and “invasion” conspiracy theories that right wing media and Republicans have helped mainstream. Buffalo joins the litany of attacks committed by white nationalists in recent years using “invasion” and “replacement” as a justification, from Charlottesville to the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh to the Walmart in El Paso to the two mosques in New Zealand. 

How many prominent Republicans have denounced both the violent attack and the replacement theory/invasion ideology that motivated it? Just two: Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL). ABC News reported, Senate Minority Leader McConnell “repeatedly avoided denouncing” the white nationalist conspiracies or his GOP colleagues defending them. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has said nothing. Senator Ted Cruz, 12 of his House colleagues from Texas, the third-ranking Republican in the House Elise Stefanik, and Tucker Carlson of Fox News, have all unapologetically doubled or even tripled down.

This insistence that immigrants and people of color are “replacers” and “invaders” comes with a body count. Until it is denounced, expunged, and cauterized from mainstream political discourse, the body count will surely mount. Unsurprisingly, the Department of Homeland Security identifies the top terrorism threat comes from violent right-wing domestic terrorists.  

About the “White Replacement” and “Invasion” White Nationalist Conspiracies  

  • About these vile white nationalist conspiracies: The “white replacement” conspiracy hinges on the belief that Jews and “the Left” are looking to replace white Americans with immigrants and non-white voters to conquer and rule 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. This is an act of war.” 
  • The Buffalo gunman’s white supremacist manifesto made the connection between “white replacement” and “invasion” 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.” As Adam Serwer of The Atlantic wrote this week, “Large sections of the manifesto attributed to the Buffalo shooter were plagiarized from the El Paso shooter’s writings.”

How the GOP Has Mainstreamed “Replacement” and “Invasion”

  • The America’s Voice ad tracking project identified 100 different Republican ads that employed the “invasion” rhetoric over the last year. From the start of this year, Republican candidates and elected officials have employed “invasion” rhetoric over 230 times on Twitter. Read our April 2022 report for more details and examples here.
  • Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third ranking House Republican, is one of worst offenders:
  • NRSC Chair Sen. Rick Scott, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rep. Michael McCaul, Ohio Senate candidate J.D Vance and many more Republicans – including supposedly “mainstream” GOP voices – have similarly helped elevate these white nationalist conspiracies in recent months. 

GOP and Conservative Voices Doubling Down or Staying Silent – Even after Buffalo

  • Rep. Stefanik and other Republicans who helped elevate these vile ideas were neither chastened nor apologetic following Buffalo. In fact, Rep. Stefanik and other enablers doubled down this week and lashed out at critics and observers who highlighted her role in mainstreaming the formerly-fringe ideas.
  • After Buffalo, 30 House Republicans sent a letter to President Biden demanding he “stop the invasion” at our southern border. As the Houston Chronicle noted, “The letter comes just days after the suspected Buffalo shooter wrote in a screed posted online that the country is ‘experiencing an invasion on a level never seen before in history’ … The writings included the word ‘invader’ 10 times, according to Seamus Hughes, deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.” 
  • Earlier in the week, the Chronicle noted: “Ted Cruz doubles down on ‘invasion’ rhetoric espoused by accused Buffalo shooter”: “The suspected shooter had written that the country is ‘experiencing an invasion on a level never seen before in history.’ On Tuesday — three days after the shooting that authorities have said was motivated by racist ideology — Cruz tweeted: ‘Over 2 million illegal aliens streamed across the border last year. This is an invasion we’re seeing because Joe Biden refuses to enforce the law!’”
  • Tucker Carlson, host on Fox News, sneered at his critics and doubled down the first night on the air after the massacre in Buffalo. This is how Oliver Darcy of CNN Business reported it:

“Obviously, Carlson was never going to apologize for or retract his remarks. But he could have chosen to ignore the controversy, move on, and let it die out. Instead, he did the opposite. Carlson opened up his show by first replaying the comments he made last week — comments in which he essentially endorsed the ‘great replacement’ theory. Then he mocked critics who were outraged he had done so…Making a mockery of those with very real concerns about his rhetoric wasn’t enough for Carlson. He then went on to recite the core element of the ‘great replacement’ theory, describing it to his millions of viewers as accurate. ‘Demographic change is the key to the Democratic Party’s political ambitions,’ Carlson said. ‘In order to win and maintain power, Democrats plan to change the population of the country.’ Carlson told his audience that the ‘goal’ is ‘to make you irrelevant.’”

Meanwhile, GOP So-Called “Leaders” like Mitch McConnell are Failing to Denounce Their Colleagues. 

  • This week, Senate Minority Leader McConnell “repeatedly avoided denouncing the white nationalist conspiracies or his GOP colleagues defending them.
  • As Michael Gerson wrote in Washington Post, “GOP leaders ought to banish officials who embrace ‘replacement theory’”: “The perpetrator of this mass murder will not be given impunity. But the racist ideas closely associated with such killing are being granted impunity daily within the Republican Party. The problem is not just that a few loudmouths are saying racist things. It is the general refusal of Republican ‘leaders’ to excommunicate officials who embrace replacement theory. The refusal of Fox News to fire the smiling, public faces of a dangerous, racist ideology.”

Call to Action: A hallmark of a functioning democracy and healthy political parties is that the system is capable of holding leaders accountable for jeopardizing public safety by intentionally spreading racist lies that have been used to justify mass killings. Judging by these basic standards, the Republican Party is falling woefully short. We encourage those with voices and platforms to speak up and call out those who refuse to refute dangerous lies that threaten lives and endanger our multiracial, multiethnic democracy.