Rep. Elise Stefanik wants to change the subject from how she has amplified the same racist theory used by the Buffalo mass shooting suspect to justify targeting Black people for murder. Stefanik released a statement attacking the media in a naked attempt to get the media to back off from covering her own use of great replacement theory rhetoric. We see you, Elise.
The three sentences attributed to Stefanik herself in the statement are a generic expression of sorrow at the racist mass murder in Buffalo on Saturday, followed by an invocation of National Police Week. The ensuing four paragraphs coming from “Alex DeGrasse, Senior Adviser,” rant about “the Left, their Never Trump allies, and the sycophant stenographers in the media” who have dared talk about Stefanik’s own promotion of replacement theory. How dare they! She would never!
Shall we go to the screenshots?
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“Radical Democrats are planning their most aggressive move yet: a PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION. Their plan to grant amnesty to 11 MILLION illegal immigrants will overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington.”
Overthrow our current electorate. Or, you know, replace it.
That ad drew an editorial from the Albany Times Union, slamming the “despicable tactic,” and writing, “If there’s anything that needs replacing in this country—and in the Republican party—it’s the hateful rhetoric that Ms. Stefanik and far too many of her colleagues so shamelessly spew.”
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And it is coming not just from Stefanik and Fox News but from many elected Republicans. Last September, around the time Stefanik was running those ads, Rep. Matt Gaetz tweeted, “@TuckerCarlson is CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America.” Now he’s saying he’s “never spoken of replacement theory in terms of race.” (If you’re saying Tucker Carlson is correct about replacement theory, you’re talking about it in terms of race.)
Rep. Scott Perry, chair of the House Freedom Caucus, said during a House hearing that many people believe “we’re replacing national-born American—native-born Americans—to permanently transform the political landscape of this very nation.” Many people do believe it! Well over 40% of Republicans, specifically, at least somewhat agree that “There is a group of people in this country who are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants who agree with their political views.” Fox News viewers were more likely to agree than CNN or MSNBC viewers, but OAN and Newsmax viewers were far more likely to agree than Fox News viewers.
It goes on: The Washington Post’s Max Boot writes, “A few hours after the Buffalo shooting, Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters (R) posted a video saying: ‘The Democrats want open borders so they can bring in and amnesty **tens of millions** of illegal aliens—that’s their electoral strategy.’ J.D. Vance, the GOP Senate nominee in Ohio (who, like Masters, is bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel), offers an even sicker twist on this demented theory: He says that Democrats are not only opening the borders to create ‘a shift in the democratic makeup of this country’ but that President Biden is deliberating letting fentanyl into the country ‘to kill a bunch of MAGA voters in the middle of the heartland.’”
Monday morning, Stefanik returned to the theme, softening her language and tone just enough to suggest that she’s trying to pretend this is as far as she’s ever gone. But it’s bad enough: “Democrats desperately want wide open borders and mass amnesty for illegals allowing them to vote. Like the vast majority of Americans, Republicans want to secure our borders and protect election integrity.” It’s replacement theory without the explicit invocation of replacement, but the meaning is plenty clear in the context of her past ads and statements. And trying to rewrite your explicit use of a racist theory into something a little fuzzier less than 48 hours after a mass shooting inspired by that theory is at least as disgusting as having used the racist theory to begin with.
The Republican Party—literally, Stefanik is one of its top leaders, and she’s not alone—is actively promoting racist rhetoric that has inspired multiple mass shootings. We have not, as a nation, fully grappled with what that means. It’s time to do that, and the media needs to get its act together on that. At a bare minimum, every time the media quotes a Republican who has used replacement theory rhetoric or appeared at a white nationalist event, those facts need to be right alongside whatever that Republican has to say in that moment. This cannot just be allowed to fade into normalcy.
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