tags: Press Releases

“We Can’t Stand By and Stand Silent” in Face of Dangerous GOP and Right Wing Nativism and Scapegoating

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Washington, DC – While Republicans are mired in their ongoing dysfunction and drama, most notably with the ongoing House Speaker debacle, one of the few points of consensus and unity in right wing circles is their relentless anti-immigrant focus and related incendiary messaging. As we have been monitoring, the radical policy proposals and incendiary nativist rhetoric emanating from Republicans and right wing media is getting worse and more extreme, with real and dangerous downstream consequences that puts American lives at risk.

Jazmine Ulloa explored these themes in the New York Times this week, noting:

“Not long after Hamas terrorists killed and kidnapped hundreds of Israelis this month, a wave of Republicans — on the presidential campaign trail, in state and congressional races and in the far-right corners of conservative media — reached for a familiar playbook: tying the issue to the nation’s southern border … While Republicans are otherwise reckoning with deep divisions, the remarkable unity on this front underscores the degree to which the 2,000-mile dividing line between the United States and Mexico remains a potent political symbol for the party. 

…Historians and political analysts warned that much of the heated language on immigration plays into far right and sometimes explicitly racist tropes that fuel fear with the potential for violence. Two white supremacist shooting suspects in the last five years, Robert Bowers in Pittsburgh and Patrick Crusius in El Paso, Texas, cited ‘invaders’ and a ‘Hispanic invasion’ in the lead-up to their crimes.”

The murder of six-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume and the attempted murder of his mother in their home by a man engrossed in this sort of bigoted conspiratorial rhetoric is the latest horrific reminder that the embrace of this rhetoric by political leaders has deadly downstream consequences. 

As always, Donald Trump has been among the most virulent offenders, both stoking fears and mainstreaming lies about terrorists pouring over the southern border and even calling for mass-deportations via an endorsement of the infamous Eisenhower-era “Operation Wetback.” As Maca Casado, the Biden campaign’s Hispanic media director, told The Hill about the implications of Trump’s policy and rhetoric, “Invoking the horrors of the mass deportation of Mexican Americans following a deadly terrorist attack in Israel doesn’t make Americans safer, but it does fan the flames of xenophobia toward immigrants and makes people in this country less safe.”

Of course, Trump is far from the only offender. Among the other right wing messengers spreading dangerous rhetoric and extreme nativist nonsense include:

  • Lora Ries, the Heritage Foundation’s Director, Border Security and Immigration Center said in a video this week: “To import a population of Palestinians would be certain suicide for Americans” (see AV Political Director Zachary Mueller’s reaction tweet here).
  • Rep. Andy Ogles (R-TN) “We MUST stop Biden from importing terrorists!” wrote about his call to ban any Palestinian refugee from being resettled in the U.S.
  • Ron DeSantis superPAC: The superPAC aligned with the DeSantis campaign released an ad this week disparaging GOP rival Nikki Haley’s remarks that, “We should care about the Palestinian citizens and America has always been sympathetic to the fact that you can separate civilians from terrorists.” The ad included a clip of DeSantis’ promise to back a radical, total exclusion policy. Haley quickly clarified that she, too, was supportive of ethnic refugee bans, saying, “I’ve always said we shouldn’t take any Gazan refugees into the U.S.”  
  • Sen. Roger Marshall, Ryan Zinke (R-MT), House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Ron DeSantis, NE Gov. Charles Herbster, Rep.Mike Collins, Rep Nick Langworthy, all used the great replacement conspiracy theory or “invasion” rhetoric this week.   
  • Sen. Marsha Blackburn: “The atrocity that took place in Israel on October 7th is a reminder that our country is not immune from a similar attack happening on our own soil. We must stop terrorists from infiltrating our southern border.”
  • Sen. Ted Cruz: “Since taking office, Biden has funded terrorism and deliberately left our border wide open. The risk of a serious terrorist attack in the United States is right now greater than it has been at any time since September 11, 2001.”

According to Vanessa Cárdenas, America’s Voice Executive Director: 

“Republican and right wing messengers’ favorite political cudgel remains immigrants, refugees, and the southern border. On nearly every issue, their proposed ‘solution’ is to shift the focus to the border and blame immigrants. Meanwhile, they won’t lift a finger to actually work on the real modernization our broken immigration system needs. Instead, at best, we get relentless disinformation and political attacks coupled with unceasing obstruction. At worst, they actively court racist political violence with white nationalist ‘replacement’ rhetoric that has deadly consequences for the American people. There are real and dangerous consequences that emanate from mainstreaming hate, stoking divides, and blaming ‘the other.’ As President Biden aptly stated last night, ‘We can’t stand by and stand silent when this happens.’”

Per the reference, President Biden’s prime time speech last night included a powerful denunciation of rising hate and division: 

“…here at home we have to be honest with ourselves. In recent years, too much hate has given too much oxygen, fueling racism, a rise in antisemitism, Islamic-phobia, right here in America. It’s also intensified in the wake of recent events that led to the horrific threats and attacks that both shock us and break our hearts.

…Just last week, a mother was brutally stabbed. A little boy here in the United States, a little boy who just turned 6 years old, was murdered in their home outside of Chicago. His name was Wadea. Wadea, a proud American, a proud Palestinian American family.

We can’t stand by and stand silent when this happens. We must without equivocation denounce antisemitism. We must also without equivocation denounce Islamophobia. And to all you hurting, those of you who are hurting, I want you to know I see you. You belong. And I want to say this to you: You’re all America. You’re all America.”