Three days after a terrible mass shooting in Buffalo, Democratic lawmakers went after GOP leadership, saying Republicans accepted the racial conspiracy theory that the alleged killer believed.
“It is anti-Semitic, bigoted, and harmful. It’s a foundation of the current GOP,” said Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.).
Clark was alluding to the “replacement theory,” a conspiracy theory that nonwhites are being introduced to the U.S. to replace white voters and lessen their authority.
Our hearts are with Buffalo as it reels from this massacre. How does the GOP continue to allow this? Are they immune to our anguish? Will they renounce white supremacy & those in their party who embrace it? Will they finally act to keep guns away from dangerous criminals?
— Katherine Clark (@RepKClark) May 16, 2022
This notion, prevalent in white supremacist groups, was at the center of a racist rant made online by Payton Gendron, 18.
He is suspected of shooting 13 people, 10 of them dead, at a store in a largely black area.
The Replacement Theory
Republican leaders have been mute on the replacement concept, even as certain members of their party flirted with or supported the concept American culture is now at risk of minority domination.
Politicians who promote nativism don’t accept the consequences when the message is taken too far, Democrats charged Tuesday.
“They won’t call it out. There’s no apology. They won’t give up,” Clark said. “Right now, white supremacy and white nationalism are driving them toward their goal. They are not going to change their minds.”
Republicans refute all claims that their language inspired white supremacists or led to the Buffalo attack.
“We have never endorsed white supremacy,” declared California Republican Kevin McCarthy. “What occurred in New York is horrible; everyone should be there to help. The suspect is evil.”
Republicans have accused Democrats of politicking the Buffalo massacre. Per McCarthy, “to create a game of politics out of this shows how small they are.”
President Biden visited Buffalo and the shooting victims on Tuesday. During a lecture, he called white supremacy a “poison.”
Biden claimed he chose to oppose Trump in 2020 after Republicans backpedaled in his response to violence at a white supremacist event in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017.
A vehicle murdered a counter-protester a day after that march.
Rep. Katherine Clark on CNN calls Trump's New Zealand statement "very lukewarm" and says that his inability to denounce white supremacy "makes him complicit in it."
"This president shows us over and over who he is by failing to denounce white supremacy."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 19, 2019
Though opinions vary, Trump’s influence over the GOP continues.
Vice-chair of the Democratic Caucus, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.), claimed Trump’s tilt to the right damaged public faith in national institutions and mainstreamed white nationalism. “Great replacement” is trending, he said.
The parties are constantly jockeying for political benefit on Capitol Hill, especially at election time when both chambers might change to GOP control.
The tone of the debate after the Buffalo shooting was extraordinary, even for a partisan Congress.
Politicizing the Narrative
Other GOP leaders repeated McCarthy’s message, warning against “politicizing” the tragedy.
“It was wicked.” Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), the third-ranking House Republican, said perpetrators should face maximum punishment. “This tragedy shouldn’t be politicized.”
Since Saturday’s massacre, Stefanik has come under increasing scrutiny over campaign commercials she uploaded last year, claiming Democrats were battling to keep power by providing “amnesty” to millions of undocumented immigrants.
Stefanik’s administration disputed that her objection to granting illegal immigrants citizenship is racially motivated. Alex DeGrasse said the media fabricated the link.
“Congresswoman Stefanik has never pushed for or expressed a racist viewpoint or statement,” DeGrasse added.
Democrats say certain Republicans’ rhetoric leads to racist violence like the Buffalo shooting.