The Great Replacement Theory Is Republican Bunk Based On Their Own Behavior After World War II
There's not much good any progressive can say about the Arizona Republican Party. It's a real cesspool of mindless conservatism. There aren't any good candidates they're fielding in a zoo that ranges from entrenched congressional fascists like Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs to truly insane statewide candidates like Kari Lake, the Trump puppet running for governor, Mark Finchem, the Trump puppet running for secretary of state and Blake Masters, the Peter Thiel puppet running for the U.S. Senate. And the state legislature-- 16 Republican state senators and 31 Republican state reps-- is basically a collection of deranged zombies. One stands out as worse than anyone else though: Wendy Rogers, a blatantly racist dog. And even the rest of the Republicans can't stand her. Yesterday the Republican-controlled state Senate voted 24-3 to launch an ethics investigation against her, for promoting divisive lies on social media, this one claiming a FBI agent (Fed Boy is what Nazis like Rogers call federal employees) was responsible for the right-wing racist massacre in Buffalo over the weekend. Rogers and 2 of her colleagues voted against the the resolution. Sensibly, the Senate Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios, wanted to go much further, calling on the Senate to expel Rogers, who was already censured for promoting violence 2 months ago. Rios noted what everyone in the legislature already knows, Rogers is "poisoning the soul of Arizona" but her motion failed.
Writing for the Washington Post this morning, Philip Bump, didn't have Rogers in mind when he pointed out that Republicans and their media allies at Fox and on Hate Talk radio won't apologize for creating and hyping their replacement theory nonsense. He had Elise Stefanik in mind instead, who knows a little something about replacement theory, since she transformed herself from a mainstream moderate to a fascist seemingly overnight to replace Liz Cheney as the third-ranking Republican in the House leadership.
Turning American against American is what Republicans do now. It's their ugliest election strategy yet and it goes way beyond Trump and acolytes like DeSantis and Noem. Stefanik wrote in a fundraising letter "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."
Maybe she's like to replace Tucker Carlson next. After all, he's the one who "first started explicitly hyping the idea that Democrats were intentionally trying to drown the political power of native-born Americans... an idea that overlapped with a bit of racist rhetoric called 'great replacement theory'." Bump asked his readers to consider how useful this line of argument is for Stefanik. "It presumes not only that Democrats are allowing an increase in migration or even illegal migration, but that they are doing so intentionally. Why? Well, obviously because they’re devious and untrustworthy. But because there’s a real American majority-- a powerful group of native-born Americans-- that opposes the Democrats’ agenda. So the devious left has no choice but to 'overthrow' the electorate by escorting as many immigrants as possible into the country and giving them the right to vote."
Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance explained this idea to Carlson in March.
“These people are doing it by design,” he said, including, “ … Democrat politicians who have decided that they cant win reelection in 2022 unless they bring in a large number of new voters to replace the voters that are already here. That’s what this is about.”
“It’s not bad policy, it’s evil,” Vance added.
Again: this is not subtle. The nefarious leftist elites are trying to ruin the country by allowing unchecked immigration. Never mind that they aren’t allowing unchecked immigration or that there’s no way that a law granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants or even immigrants broadly would pass Congress, and there’s clearly no way that’s happening before the midterms in November. But it’s useful rhetoric to amplify fears of immigration, anger at the left and a sense that those on the right are the real owners of American power and culture. And what’s the downside?
Well, the downside is when a guy drives to Buffalo and kills 10 people because he allegedly wants to foment a race war in defense of the embattled White race, at least according to a document that authorities believe the suspect wrote. Tell people that there’s an effort to diminish the power of real Americans by bringing immigrants to the country and some people are going to be able to hear the dog whistle quite clearly.
When the media, including the Washington Post, pointed out that the rhetoric in the document mirrored what had been said by Stefanik and Carlson, Stefanik was indignant. Her official response to the Buffalo shooting, in a statement and a tweet from her office, was sympathetic. She’s “heartbroken,” she is praying for those who lost their lives, etc. Her campaign, however, took a different tack.
“Statement on the Disgraceful, Dishonest, and Dangerous Media Smears,” its news release was titled.
“Any implication or attempt to blame the heinous shooting in Buffalo on the Congresswoman is a new disgusting low for the Left, their Never Trump allies, and the sycophant stenographers in the media,” adviser Alex DeGrasse wrote. “The shooting was an act of evil and the criminal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Stefanik herself offered thoughts from her campaign Twitter account.
It’s great replacement theory-- but leaving open the idea that maybe it’s all a coincidence. (An email sent to Stefanik’s office asking if she accepted or rejected the core tenet of the theory received only the campaign statement above in response.) She’s not saying this is an effort by elites to intentionally replace American voters. She’s just saying, you know, Democrats want to bring in a bunch of immigrants and let them vote. That’s all.
Notice, by the way, that even here Stefanik can’t avoid the Republican subject of the moment. Allowing immigrants to vote is about “protecting election integrity,” the sole object of Donald Trump’s interest over the past 20 months. Given that passing a law to allow immigrants to vote would not be a violation of election integrity in the sense of laws being broken, Stefanik is here simply looping “letting those people vote” in with “that taints our elections.”
It is, in fact, irresponsible to suggest that the shooter in Buffalo was influenced by Stefanik’s campaign ad; I suspect very few teenagers have heard of Stefanik, much less are the targets of fundraising pitches from her campaign. But she still gave-- gives-- oxygen to the idea in a way that helps normalize its adoption and spread its reach.
The most important point here is that Stefanik will not walk away from the rhetoric she used last September. Politicians have long been loath to own up to their errors, as are most humans. But there was at one time an expectation that elected leaders would do the right, difficult thing in acknowledging their mistakes. That’s no longer the case.
As Ezra Klein, then of Vox, wrote in 2016, Trump’s political gift was that he expressed no shame about what he did. For all of the incendiary and false things he said, for all of the indiscretions he committed, there were almost no occasions on which he apologized or admitted wrongdoing. He simply returned fire, attacking the media or his critics or his accusers. In one memorable passage from Bob Woodward’s book Fear, he writes about the advice Trump gave a friend accused of sexual impropriety.
“If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead,” Trump said. Instead, he suggested, “you’ve got to deny, deny, deny.”
As president, that overlapped with his insistence on “counterpunching,” saying that the media reporting on his mistakes and dishonesty were the enemies of the people and that, by targeting him, they were targeting conservative Americans broadly. Over time, media criticism became a mark of success on the right, a sign you could offer to your base that you had the right enemies. That Stefanik’s response to reports about her echoing great replacement theory was purportedly about “Disgraceful, Dishonest, and Dangerous Media Smears” says it all.
This is why Trump attacked the press, of course. He wanted the press to be seen as oppositional to his politics and therefore simply another partisan pawn. And Republicans have since embraced it. Scott Pruitt, who resigned from Trump’s Cabinet following a string of scandals, is now seeking election to the Senate by touting how the media was out to get him. After the New York Times ran a lengthy series exposing Tucker Carlson’s rhetoric-- including on great replacement theory-- Carlson was giddy.
Deny, deny, deny. Lump the media in with critics on the left. Never acknowledge that you erred but, instead, argue that you are being unfairly accused of having erred because of bias. By now, it’s rote-- even when the question is whether you stand by an argument that was allegedly deployed by a man accused of killing 10 people at a grocery store.
In 2016, Trump ran in explicit opposition to immigration, even at one point making an argument that the Democrats wanted to bring in uncountable numbers of immigrants who would vote for their party. He refused to admit his errors or his lies. And then he won. And then he retained enormous popularity with the base.
And lessons were imparted.
AP reporter Steve Peoples wrote this morning that while the “great replacement” conspiracy theory once once confined to the outer fringes of the GOP-- the QAnon nuts like Boebert and Traitor Greene-- now vaguely mainstream Republicans are running on it... although I would have to question if running on this nonsense negates the proposition that candidates like Stefanik (NY), JD Vance (OH), Blake Masters (AZ), Eric Schmitt (MO) can be considered mainstream. Liz Cheney, he noted, "blamed her own party on Monday for enabling 'white nationalism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse,' Cheney tweeted. GOP 'leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.'" Unfortunately it's become standard GOP dogma, "a mainstream view on the political right."
Peoples pointed to polling that shows a third of Americans believe an effort is underway to replace U.S.-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gain." Funny, Republicans actually did that after World War II, bringing Eastern European Nazis to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and other states to try to balance Jewish-Democratic electoral influence.
Fox News’ most popular personality, Tucker Carlson, has been one of the theory’s biggest proponents. A study of five years’ worth of Carlson’s show by The New York Times found 400 instances in which he talked about Democratic politicians and others seeking to force demographic change through immigration.
But so far, at least, less attention has been focused on Republican candidates preparing to face voters in the coming weeks and months who have, in some cases, promoted the theory again and again.
In interviews with conservative national television and radio over the last year, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has called replacement theory “the Democrat grand plan.”
“I’ve got to believe they want to change the makeup of the electorate,” he told a Minneapolis-area conservative radio host last month.
The Johnson campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
In Missouri, at least two Republicans vying for the Republican Senate nomination have made similar statements more recently.
While touring the U.S.-Mexico border last month, former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said that immigrants crossing over illegally were “flooding into all of the 50 states, and that includes Missouri.”
“What’s also very clear is that Joe Biden’s policies are an assault on the entire idea of America,” Greitens said. “He’s wiping out the distinction between citizens and non-citizens, and he’s doing it on purpose.”
A week later, Schmitt, Greitens’ Republican rival, claimed that tens of millions of immigrants were crossing into the U.S. illegally because of Biden’s policies. He said Democrats were intentionally encouraging illegal immigration for their own benefit.
“They are fundamentally trying to change this country through their illegal immigration policy,” Schmitt told conservative commentator Glenn Beck.
...In Arizona, Masters has warned throughout his campaign of a Democratic plot to transform the U.S. electorate.
“Obviously, the Democrats, they hope to just change the demographics of our country,” Masters told the Patriot Edition podcast late last month. “They hope to import an entirely new electorate. Then they call you a racist and a bigot.”
In Ohio, Vance has already secured a place on the November ballot. He won Trump’s endorsement after embracing many of the former president’s hardline views, including those related to immigration.