Updated: May 20, 2022
Politicians and rightwing media personalities who espouse the "great replacement theory", must be held responsible for the mindset that sent the teenage Buffalo, NY Tops Friendly Market killer on his bloody rampage resulting in the murder of 10 Black people and injury of three others.
In my view, while on the sidelines, they are accomplices to mass murder.
The baseless conspiracy theory contends, among other things, that liberals and Jews are attempting to replace White Americans with non-White immigrants who would be more likely to support Democrats than the Republican Party, through lax immigration laws. It's been promoted in various forms by myriad Republicans, from Donald Trump all the way down to the pits of hell, the residence of Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY), the third ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.
The 18-year-old shooting suspect, Payton Gendron, cited the tenets of that theory in an online document revealing his intention to carry out his attack in Buffalo because many Black people reside there. Eleven of the 13 people shot at the store were Black. Here's a pic of the Bushmaster .223 caliber model XM15 rifle used in the shooting, emblazoned with hate-filled messages:
But Gendron, obviously an impressionable hate-filled White supremacist, is not alone in embracing that vile theory. In a poll released last week, The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 1 in 3 Americans believe an effort is underway to replace U.S.-born Americans with immigrants to help win elections.
They've been egged on by the likes of Trump, Stefanik and Fox News' Tucker Carlson, among others, who use this emotional fear mongering for their own political purposes -- regardless of the potential tragic impact of those lies.
In the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump railed against immigration and weaponized
White grievances as a means of winning the election. And, he warned of the coming wave of immigrants who would take over U.S. elections.
"I think this will be the last election that the Republicans have a chance of winning," Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody, "because you're going to have people flowing across the border, you're going to have illegal immigrants coming in, and they're going to be legalized, and they're going to be able to vote and once that all happens you can forget it."
Then, after losing the 2020 presidential election, pushing his "Big Lie," Trump said there were "illegal immigrant voters" in the election, which, of course, is not true.
Stefanik, who has tried to attach herself to Trump and his "Make America Great Again" agenda, has not used used the words "great replacement theory" publicly, but she has espoused the ideology that it embraces.
In a series of Facebook ads published in September 2021, her campaign charged that Democrats were allowing undocumented immigrants into the United States in a deliberate plan to outnumber and overcome Republican voters.
“Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION,” reads one of the ads, which shows a reflection of migrants in sunglasses Biden is wearing. “Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”
Then, there is Tucker Carlson:
“Now, I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” he said last year. “But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true.”
In a video posted on Fox News’ YouTube account in September, Carlson said President Biden was encouraging immigration “to change the racial mix of the country, … to reduce the political power of people whose ancestors lived here, and dramatically increase the proportion of Americans newly arrived from the Third World.”
Impressionable, hatefilled White supremacists like Payton Gendron hear those words and those of leaders like Trump and Stefanik and their fears that their white world is being threatened are reinforced, and they are moved to act. And, with easy access to AR 15s and other such weapons, like the "Bushmaster .223 caliber model XM15 rifle used by Gendron, they attack. And innocent people die.
Of course the gun rights advocates, led by the National Rifle Association, are also culpable. In one disgusting example, the Horry County Republican Party raffled off an AR-15 signed by Trump favorites Gen. Michael Flynn at a recent party fundraising shindig.
Carlson's remarks prompted the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to call for Tucker's firing, noting that racists have used the theory to justify the killing of 51 people in mosques in New Zealand in 2019, and the killing of 23 mostly Hispanic shoppers in a Walmart in El Paso the same year.
Of the Buffalo shooting, Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and national director, issued this statement, which read in part:
"This was yet another predictable attack by an avowed white supremacist who imbibed hateful conspiracy theories online and then turned to violent action, this time targeting mostly Black victims. We cannot remain complacent in the face of this continuing and serious national security threat. More must be done – now – to push back against the racist and antisemitic violence propounded by the far right.
“This shooting is a deadly reminder of the dangers of white supremacy, and the need to call out these hateful views at every opportunity. We need our elected leaders at all levels to have the political will to pass meaningful legislation that will hold anyone involved in spreading white supremacist conspiracy theories to account and to stop potentially violent terrorists before they commit a crime."
Greenblatt is right, and those being held accountable should include irresponsible, conspiracy theory spewing political leaders and media personalities, who must be considered as accomplices to mass murder.
Because that's exactly what they are.