A tragedy in Buffalo stokes the Democrats’ blame-game

Despite what the polls are telling us, inflation, impactful as it is, is not the biggest problem facing us at the moment. Polarization is. It’s turning Americans against each other. It’s turning everything into a political battle. And even the slaughter of innocent grocery store shoppers in Buffalo, N.Y., isn’t off limits — not as far as Democrats facing tough November elections and some of their media allies are concerned.  

The apparent shooter is an 18-year-old white racist who reportedly traveled 200 miles from his home in upstate New York just to kill Black people. “Naturally, this has progressives spewing their rote condemnations of systemic racism, Trump supporters, and Republicans generally — when not railing against the availability of guns,” as the National Review neatly put it.

As if to prove the point, Rolling Stone magazine ran a piece under the headline, “The Buffalo Shooter Isn’t a ‘Lone Wolf.’ He’s a Mainstream Republican.” To which Laura Ingraham, from Fox News on the other side of the divide, unsurprisingly snapped back, “The gonzo journalists at Rolling Stone say no, no, no, no, no, there are accomplices here: The Republicans. …  It’s so lame, because the real accomplices are in the media — the media that are propping up an administration that has brought this country to its knees with policies making American families poorer every single day. And they’ve tried this tack so many times.”

And then there’s the New York Times, which was busy connecting dots — dots that led from Buffalo to Republicans, in general, and to Ingraham’s Fox News colleague Tucker Carlson, in particular. Here’s how an editorial in the Times explains the connection: “Republican politicians, including some of the party’s top leaders, openly espouse versions of a white supremacist conspiracy theory holding that an orchestrated effort is underway to displace white Americans. … On Saturday, a gunman who said he was motivated by a version of this ‘replacement theory’ killed 10 people at a Buffalo grocery store, officials said.” 

As for Carlson’s supposed link to the mass murder, the Times editorial has this to say: “The Fox News host Tucker Carlson, a leading purveyor of replacement theory rhetoric, has promoted the idea that elites are seeking to replace white Americans on more than 400 episodes of his program, according to an analysis by The New York Times.”

I’m no fan of Tucker Carlson or his wild theories. I think he’s often irresponsible with what he says. In 2021, he reportedly said, for example, that liberals are “trying to replace the current electorate with new, more obedient voters from the third world.”  

But even if the shooter in Buffalo believes the same thing, there’s not a shred of evidence that he ever watched a single episode of Carlson’s show or was influenced by anything Carlson ever said. In fact, he allegedly wrote a 180-page, hate-filled manifesto that doesn’t mention Carlson’s name. But Tucker Carlson’s critics would have us somehow believe that he bears some responsibility for what happened at the supermarket in Buffalo?  

And Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) just couldn’t resist politicizing the shooting, as the Wall Street Journal reported in an editorial. “Every time MAGA Republicans or pundits vilify wrongly immigrants and call them invaders,” Schumer said, “every time they falsely claim that millions of undocumented people cast ballots in our elections, and every time loud bigoted voices bemoan the disintegration of an imagined ‘classic’ America, the subtext is clear: these hard-right MAGA Republicans argue that people of color and minority communities are somehow posing a threat—a threat—to the American way of life.” And then he got to the punchline: “This is replacement theory in a nutshell.”

And, as the Journal reminded its readers, because liberal media outlets aren’t interested in such things: “The media’s massacre blame-game also goes only one way. When a deranged Black man ran down white grandmothers at a Waukesha, Wis., holiday parade, the media soon turned away from the awful story. President Biden didn’t show up and claim America is at risk of losing its democracy, as he did in Buffalo on Tuesday.

“When a Bernie Sanders supporter and MSNBC aficionado nearly killed Rep. Steve Scalise at a baseball practice in 2017, no one sensible blamed the anti-Republican rhetoric of Mr. Sanders or MSNBC for the gun violence. No one sensible did this because they realized the men who pulled the trigger or drove the SUV in Waukesha are responsible for their actions.”

We’ve moved on from reasonable disagreements between the right and the left. The very idea seems quaint. We’re now in what feels like a constant state of confrontation where, as I say, everything is a political battle. So, should we really be surprised that partisans are politicizing a horrible tragedy in Buffalo? I’d be surprised if they didn’t. I mean, who wants to let a crisis go to waste, right? 

Bernard Goldberg is an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Substack page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.

Tags Buffalo shootings partisan divide Racism Tucker Carlson white replacement theory

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