Above Image: h/t The Daily Beast.

Wajahat Ali, a columnist for The Daily Beast, writes Republicans Must Answer for ‘Great Replacement Theory’ Violence:


Republicans and the conservative media ecosystem have to answer for the blood on their hands.

Either through innuendo or direct statements, they continue to promote the white supremacist “great replacement theory” which has yet again radicalized a terrorist to commit violence against people of color. And they should be held accountable for their role in it.

We’re still learning more about Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old suspected terrorist who killed 10 people in a racially motivated attack in Buffalo. However, it’s clear from his alleged manifesto that “great replacement theory,” which is now a mainstream GOP talking point, continues to radicalize men to commit violence. And yet some Republican leaders and conservative pundits continue to promote this hate for sake of votes, profit, and ratings.

Enough is enough. Until Republican leaders and conservative media stars explicitly renounce this white supremacist conspiracy, condemn it, and disassociate from its peddlers, it’s fair to conclude they are entirely complicit with its message.

Journalists and reporters must repeatedly hound Republican officials with follow up questions about this national security threat. Recall that Democrats and President Joe Biden still are asked about “defunding the police,” even though it is not a mainstream DNC position, or about critical race theory (CRT) panic even after it was revealed to be a bad-faith trojan horse created by right-wing activists to incite racial panic and anxiety.

Leading up to the election, any journalist worth their weight must doggedly ask every Republican elected official the following questions:

      • “Do you believe in the replacement theory?”
      • “Do you condemn the replacement theory, or do you support the ideology that has inspired numerous mass terrorists?”
      • “If you do condemn it, then why are you and your colleagues repeating it?”

In the past few years, these terrorists, all radicalized by the same conspiracy, have attacked Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, and others. This time, it was Black people whom the terrorist blamed for weakening and replacing his people. How do we know? Because he clearly and methodically detailed his poisoned ideology in his alleged manifesto.

In case there was any doubt—or if my media colleagues decide to yet again whitewash the actions of yet another white supremacist terrorist as being a “lone wolf” or infantilize him as a troubled, young man—he describes himself as a white nationalist, fascist, neo-Nazi, and an anti-Semite. He describes his attack as an act of terrorism, which he rationalizes as a “partisan action against an occupying force.”

In a Q and A with himself, he says he decided to attack “to show to the replacers that as long as the White man lives, our land will never be theirs and they [will] never be safe from us.” He succeeded in shooting 13 people, killing 10, including 86-year-old Ruth Winfield, a grandmother who was simply living her life, bothering no one, and shopping at the grocery store.

But for adherents of the replacement theory, Ruth was the enemy who must be eliminated. They believe that Jews are the head of a nefarious, international cabal who are deliberately using Blacks, Muslims, immigrants of color, feminists, and LGBTQ+ to infiltrate, weaken and eventually replace “Western” civilization—which is a euphemism for white people.

At the beginning of his alleged manifesto, Gendron writes, “​​If there’s one thing I want you to get from these writings, it’s that White birth rates must change. Every day the White population becomes fewer in number. To maintain a population the people must achieve a birth rate that reaches replacement fertility levels, in the western world that is about 2.06 births per woman.”

That might as well have been a quote from Tucker Carlson during one of his many rants about white Americans being diluted, weakened, and replaced by people of color. Just pause for a second and reflect on that.

Carlson, one of the most influential conservative voices, hosts the highest-rated cable news show which repeats the replacement theory—the main conspiracy that fueled the Buffalo terrorist. If you think that’s hyperbolic, don’t take my word for it. Just listen to white nationalists themselves who have repeatedly praised Carlson for echoing their message for them. The neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer loves Carlson, and its founder, Andrew Anglin, has said, “Tucker Carlson is literally our greatest ally.”

The replacement theory, which has inspired and radicalized numerous mass shooters, according to a poll by Associated Press and NORC is now believed by nearly half of Republican voters. Half!

A majority of Republican voters also believe in the Big Lie that Trump won the 2020 election. Increasingly, many also believe the QAnon conspiracy theory, which the FBI deemed a national security threat with the potential of radicalizing both individuals and groups to violence.

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A logical question is where did so many otherwise rational and sane people hear these once-fringe conspiracy theories and talking points? How are they being radicalized?

We need to look no further than Fox News, right-wing media, and Republican politicians. In an exhaustive review of Carlson’s influential show, The New York Times concluded that Carlson riles up white grievance and victimhood by actively promoting the replacement theory and xenophobia, often lamenting demographics.

Carlson responded to the piece by tweeting a photo of himself holding the newspaper with a huge, shit-eating grin. He basked in it. He wore it as a “badge of honor.” That is how Steve Bannon recommends the right-wing respond to accusations of racism. “Let them call you a racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists,” Bannon advised right-wing French politicians in 2018. “Because every day, we get stronger, and they get weaker.” In a Playboy interview in the same year, Carlson said, “I don’t doubt [white supremacists] exist. But the idea that white nationalism is a mainstream position is absurd…I’m pretty moderate by temperament.”

Thanks, in part, to Carlson, white nationalism is now a “moderate,” mainstream GOP position.

The replacement theory has not only been promoted by the usual fringe cranks in the GOP— Reps. Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene, but also Rep. Elise Stefanik, the third highest-ranking Republican leader. After the Buffalo shooting, Rep. Stefanik tweeted, “Very saddened to hear the tragic news of fellow NYers in Buffalo. We are praying for the entire community and law enforcement at this time.”

Was Rep. Stefanik sad when she bought Facebook ads last year promoting the replacement theory? Why did she deliberately mainstream a white supremacist conspiracy even after she knew it radicalized Robert Bowers, the terrorist who killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue because he wanted to punish Jews for helping the “invaders?” Why did Rep. Stefanik promote the hateful conspiracy even though she knew it radicalized Brenton Tarrant, the Christchurch terrorist who killed more than 50 Muslims, and who served as the direct inspiration for the Buffalo terrorist? In fact, does Rep. Stefanik feel sad for deliberately promoting the QAnon conspiracy earlier this week when she tweeted that her Democratic colleagues aligned with “pedo-grifters?”

They might not take direct orders from the “mainstream”—but these terrorists emerge from the same ideological infrastructure of the modern GOP. Although these Republican hatemongers and elected officials don’t pull the trigger, they are providing the ideological bullets.

They are also radicalizing a generation of white men who believe they are the real victims, and as such, they have to use violence to save themselves from the “invaders.”

The question I have for the majority is the following: what are we going to do about this? How many more livestreams of mass shootings, hateful online manifestos, and grieving relatives do we need to see on TV before the majority, especially media colleagues, stand up and ask the right-wing to answer for their role in this stochastic terrorism?

Ask them again and again whether they support these toxic, evil lies. Don’t let them off the hook. No amount of shame is too much.