Press: Buffalo massacre: Part of the blame lies here

The horror of 10 African-Americans gunned down at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., last Saturday was made even worse by the outright racism behind it. In a 180-page document posted by the shooter on social media before the massacre, he repeatedly espouses the manifestly absurd “great replacement theory” that Democrats and/or Jews, in their support for immigrants and people of color, are actually conspiring to take power away from white people. 

After his arrest, the young mass murderer — a self-confessed fascist, white supremacist and anti-Semite — told authorities he was deliberately targeting African-Americans because they are “replacers.” In fact, he drove three hours from his home in Conklin, N.Y., because the Tops Supermarket is in a ZIP code that “has the highest black percentage that is close enough to where I live.” 

As shocking as it is to hear an 18-year-old spout such racist nonsense, we should not be surprised. He’s heard the same ugly theory from right-wing talk radio, from Fox News, and some Republican members of Congress.  

Last year Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa) used a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing to spread the bogus great replacement theory. “For many Americans, what seems to be happening or what they believe right now is happening is what appears to them is we’re replacing national-born Americans, native-born Americans, to permanently transform the landscape of this very nation.” 

Perry’s not alone. In March, Reps. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) appeared in Orlando at a meeting of the America First Political Conference, an avowed white supremacist organization headed by white nationalist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes. According to Judd Legum’s Popular Information newsletter, other leading Republicans to publicly embrace the great replacement theory include Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, Ohio Senate candidate J. D. Vance, Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and third-ranking House Republican leader Elise Stefanik (N.Y.). 

Fear that white people are deliberately having their power ripped away from them is also a constant theme of Fox News commentators Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Jeanine Pirro. And all of them echo former President Trump, who famously reacted to white nationalists marching through Charlottesville chanting “the Jews shall not replace us,” by insisting there were “very fine people” on both sides. 

Read The 1619 Project. The fear that “racially-superior” whites are losing power to “racially-inferior” people of color  has been a trope of white supremacists since this country’s formation. But it’s now out of the fringes and into the mainstream, thanks to Trump, Fox News, and Republicans in Congress.  

The problem, of course, as we’ve learned so many times before, is that words have consequences. There are unbalanced people out there who will hear that crackpot theory, swallow it whole, and determine to do something about it themselves. That was the avowed purpose of the gunman who shot and killed 51 people at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019. In his own manifesto, the Buffalo killer admits he was “inspired” by the Christchurch gunman to carry out his own copy-cat mass murder.  

Blame for the Buffalo killings belongs primarily to the man who pulled the trigger. But blame also belongs to those who poured the poison in his ear and to those who support lax gun laws that allow anybody to purchase a weapon of mass destruction.  

For now, the only replacement theory we need is to replace all politicians who irresponsibly preach the great replacement theory. 

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is the author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.” 

Tags Blake Masters buffalo massacre Dan Patrick Elise Stefanik GOP Matt Gaetz Racism racist Rhetoric Ron Johnson Scott Perry Trump

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