tags: Press Releases

“Words of Hate Can Bring About Acts of Hate” – Powerful Op-eds Condemn Dangerous and Reckless Mainstreaming of White Nationalist Rhetoric

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Washington, DC – Two op-eds highlight the link between hateful white nationalist rhetoric and hateful violent acts. A powerful Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed by Miri Rabinowitz, who was widowed by the Tree of Life synagogue mass-shooting in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018, adds a devastating personal lens to examine the connection between dangerous rhetoric and acts of violence. Meanwhile, an op-ed by Florida political observer Thomas Kennedy spotlights the GOP’s nativist messaging barrage, including their role in mainstreaming the dangerous conspiracies that caused the violence in Pittsburgh, as well as in El Paso, Buffalo and elsewhere.

America’s Voice has been closely tracking the GOP’s escalating messaging, especially as they echo hateful white nationalist rhetoric. A recent report from America’s Voice found 546 pieces of political messaging from Republicans that employ lies around ‘white replacement’ and a ‘migrant invasion’ in the 2022 cycle.

According to Zachary Mueller, America’s Voice Political Director,  “In hopes of winning the midterm elections, Republican candidates and leadership have echoed the same white nationalist conspiracies that have repeatedly inspired hateful violence. We have been closely tracking this trend, and while we implore candidates not to use hateful rhetoric as part of their campaigns, we must be honest about the GOP’s political messaging this cycle. We know the rhetoric will have dangerous downstream consequences, so American communities should brace for more violence encouraged by the relentless and dangerous messages coming from Republicans.”

See below for excerpts and links to the op-eds.

Miri Rabinowitz’s op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette explores, “Mastriano and Gab: Words of hate can bring about acts of hate” and connects the killings at Tree of Life with both the larger current moment in Pennsylvania and across the nation:

“I am the widow of one of the 11 worshippers massacred during the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue on Oct. 27, 2018. Just hours before the carnage at my synagogue began, the Tree of Life attacker posted “screw your optics, I’m going in” on Gab, a social media platform that is a haven for white supremacists, extremists and antisemites.

The shooter was a prominent and verified user of Gab, consistently posting neo-Nazi propaganda and repeatedly calling for violence against Jewish people. He referred to the Jewish people as the “children of Satan.”

These words of hate quickly turned into the deadliest attack on Jewish people in U.S. history — and Gab played a key role.

When it was revealed that the GOP gubernatorial candidate, Doug Mastriano, paid thousands of dollars in “consulting fees” to Gab, I was shocked and disgusted. However, when it was revealed that this money was actually being used to recruit extremists and antisemites to his campaign, I knew I had to speak out.

Each mass shooting that targets immigrants, communities of color or religious minorities has the same root cause — white supremacy — and each of these tragedies triggers painful memories of that awful day and its aftermath.

This violence does not emerge out of nowhere. In part, it is fueled by elected officials who enact racist policies and by those who turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to this moral evil.

Let’s be clear: Words of hate can bring about acts of hate.

We must hold our leaders accountable. We must demand that our elected officials speak out and act against white supremacy. And we must vote for leaders who will condemn violence, dangerous rhetoric and white supremacy — rather than encourage it.”

Thomas Kennedy’s op-ed in Occupy Democrats, “Republican anti-immigrant messaging is out of control,” looks at how GOP talking points directly feed into the violence we see today.

“For the last year or so, I have been tracking horrible anti-immigrant and xenophobic attacks from Republican politicians in Florida. As someone who grew up undocumented, I am not a stranger to this type of rhetoric. I remember watching ghouls like former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo go on Lou Dobbs’ old CNN show to spout nonsense about immigrants bringing diseases into this country. 

Nothing, however, compares to the current level of unhinged nativist rhetoric being disseminated by Republicans. The weaponization of anti-immigrant rhetoric by the GOP is at the center of their strategy to undermine the Biden administration and defeat Democrats in the midterm elections this year.

To achieve this, they have unleashed a salvo of anti-immigrant messaging to rain down upon voters from the usual right-wing media outlets. Well over 850 anti-immigrant ads across the country were commissioned by Florida GOP candidates. A good portion of these ads fixate on the racist “great replacement theory” by employing the rhetoric of a migrant invasion that is not actually taking place and that only serves to monger fear among their target constituents.

This is the same language employed by the white nationalist gunmen who murdered innocent people in Pittsburgh, El Paso, and Buffalo, claiming that a dangerous “other” is invading the United States to replace the existing white population. Despite seeing the real-life devastating consequences of their irresponsible rhetoric, GOP candidates continue to double down and, in some cases, have increased their use of it.

How widespread is this hateful messaging among Republican candidates and their organizations? America’s Voice ad tracking project has identified over 100 different Republican ads employing the “invasion” language, over 100 different Republican ads fear-mongering about “amnesty”, a term weaponized to have one believe immigrants will quickly become U.S. citizens and vote against white American interests, and over 70 different ads employing both anti-immigrant themes and fears about election integrity.

[…] The GOP’s immigration buzzwords like “migrant invasion,” “caravan,” and “fentanyl” have also found their way into mainstream outlets. Since 2021, mainstream media has featured over 1,077 mentions of “fentanyl” within the context of immigration, over 1,395 mentions of “migrant caravan,” and over  975 mentions of immigration “invasion” rhetoric. 

Is it any wonder that a third of Americans believe in some version of the “great replacement theory” and that we now see these xenophobic themes materialize in both mass killings and immigration policy proposals?”