By Jaanvi Kaur and Aryal Aglugub
BUFFALO, NY– Last weekend, attention turned to the motive of a white man who killed 10 people at a local supermarket here, using a semi-automatic-style rifle in a predominately Black neighborhood.
The “great replacement” theory describes the elite conspiracy of changing the demographics of America with a focus on replacing and disempowering white people—and their influence—with people of color, immigrants and Muslims.
Critics say that Republicans will probably intensify their racist expressions to prey on the fears of supporters and energize them for the midterm elections. This in total will increase the rate of more Buffalo-style violence.
“It’s good for raising money and good for agitating the base that is already stressed and strapped by inflation and economic concerns and other social changes that they don’t like,” said Michael Steele, the first African American chairman of the Republican National Committee. “It’s exploitive and it’s going to result in more harm to African Americans and other minority communities.”
The shooter, Payton Gendron, 18, was charged with first-degree murder without bail after the incident at a Tops Friendly Markets outlet. Investigators on the case are studying Gendron’s postings that he made online which include a 180-page manifesto outlining the replacement theory.
After visiting the crime scene on Tuesday, President Biden warned of “a hate that through the media and politics, the internet, has radicalized angry, alienated, lost and isolated individuals into falsely believing that they will be replaced—that’s the word, ‘replaced’—by the ‘other’ people who don’t look like them and who are, therefore, in a perverse ideology that they possess and being fed, lesser beings.”
President Biden stated that he condemns “those who spread the lie for power, political gain, and for-profit” and described silence as “complicity.” However, most Republicans remain silent on the issue.
On Tuesday, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, was asked about the replacement theory but failed to provide a direct reply.
Steele stated that “I don’t see them changing course. It works for their purposes. The leadership has not come out and condemned it. They refuse to acknowledge any link or nexus between that and the obvious evidence of that connection presented by the killer in Buffalo and so they try to continue to turn a blind eye to it.”
In the U.S., there has been a rise in hate crimes and domestic terrorism. In El Paso, Texas, a white man gunned down 23 people, claiming to be engaged to stop “the Hispanic invasion of Texas.’
In Pittsburgh, a man who killed 11 worshippers at a synagogue accused the Jewish community of allowing immigrant “invaders” into the country.
Over the recent years, Republicans at congressional hearings and during election campaigns have articulated many iterations of the theory, trying to avoid overt racism or antisemitism. They have been magnified by the right-wing media and have been given the main focus during the presidency of Donald Trump.
The Republican chairwoman in the House of Representatives, Elise Stefanik, has been faulted due to a Facebook ad posted last September that alleged that Democrats have been trying to “overthrow our current electorate” by allowing people who do not have U.S. citizenships to vote.
Stefanik and her office hold to their statement that they don’t have any connection to replacement theory.
Senator of Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, has defined the replacement theory as “the Democrat grand plan.’ During a recent radio interview he stated “I’ve got to believe they want to change the makeup of the electorate.”
An opinion poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research this week concluded one in three Americans carry the opinion that there is an effort to give immigrants voting power over US-born Americans for electoral gain.
From Ohio, JD Vance, who is Trump endorsed, told Fox News that the left is “fundamentally trying to change this country through illegal immigration.” Blake Masters, an Arizonian Senate candidate, has also alleged Democrats of allowing immigrants into the U.S. “to change the demographics of our country.”
“It’s exploitative and it’s going to result in more harm to African Americans and other minority communities,” says Michael Steele.
This notion has already been a contested issue molded by Trump, who is notorious for promising to build a border wall, vilified undocumented immigrants, and additionally hired “alt-right” figures, including Steve Bannon. Trump’s famous slogan “Make America Great Again” (Maga), implies that America should revert to simpler, whiter times.
Democratic congressman and vice-chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Mark Takano, states, “They need to take ownership of the fact that Trumpism is a cancer. Maga Republicans are a cancer on this republic.
“It is an already energized portion of the base and for them to pour water on this fire seems to them like a huge loss. It will be a huge loss of many of them to stamp it out. But they have to have faith that they will arise out of those ashes, that it’s not worth the power they think they will attain by allowing themselves to take advantage of this very potent fire,” said Takano.
On the steps of Capitol Hill, a press conference was held where leading Democrats called for their Republican colleagues to speak against the replacement theory before it creates more deadly attacks.
Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Joyce Beatty, outlines the replacement theory as “a key plank of the Republican platform,” adding: “Time and time again, domestic terrorists are using the great replacement theory to justify their crimes.”
Beatty added, “Right here on Capitol Hill, we hear our Republican colleagues echoing versions of this theory. We must confront it. Let me say it in very clear terms: the Republican leadership is not innocent and, whether they use a dob whistle or a bullhorn, they do not get a pass.”
Infamous Fox News’s host, Tucker Carlson, has been the biggest instigator of this theory. In a study with five years’ worth of data from Carlson’s show by the New York Times, the newspaper finds that there were 400 instances of Tucker talking about Democratic politicians and others attempting to force the change of the demographic through immigration.
Adviser to the Democratic National Committee and former senior adviser for Republicans on the House oversight committee, Kurt Bardella, states, “Any time you devote airtime to espouse these extreme viewpoints you are lending it legitimacy and normalizing it and telling you audience that this is an acceptable viewpoint that deserves to be aired in the public domain. That’s exactly what Fox News has done and they have blood on their hands.”