Buffalo shooting: Anti-racism expert condemns ‘great replacement’ plot pushed by Tucker Carlson and GOP
As reports continue to pour in of the Buffalo gunman’s embrace of white nationalist rhetoric in a lengthy manifesto that detailed his plans and reasoning for carrying out Saturday’s horrific attack, many are pointing the finger at prominent figures right-wingers who espouse similar views as helping such racism become mainstream.
Saturday’s shooting left 10 dead and others injured in a predominantly black neighborhood after an 18-year-old suspect allegedly opened fire with intent to kill as many black people as possible. It was just the latest in a long line of attacks inspired by far-right rhetoric regarding issues of race and immigration.
In a manifesto verified by multiple news outlets as belonging to the shooting suspect, the 18-year-old clearly ties his goals to reversing a trend that has been coined by white supremacist conspiracy theorists as the “doom theory.” white replacement”. In short, the conspiracy spreads the false belief that Democrats are trying to supplant white Americans with Hispanic immigrants and other people of color in an effort to dramatically change America’s voting population.
Experts have long pointed out that the theory has inspired numerous far-right attacks, including the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand in 2019 – in which 51 people were killed – as well as the shooting at a center commercial in El Paso, Texas, later. year that saw 23 people lose their lives.
Now the theory is once again firmly at the center of the discourse, as the alleged Buffalo shooter is said to have explained how he was radicalized both by far-right forums like 4chan and other white supremacist websites, as well as by the manifesto posted online by Brenton. Harrison Tarrant, the man convicted of the shooting in New Zealand.
While the Buffalo suspect appears to have explained he became radicalized online, the actual words of prominent conservative figures are being re-examined in the wake of the shooting.
At the top of this list of purveyors of similar theories is Tucker Carlson, the Fox News prime-time host who, according to The New York Times addressed the issue of demographic “replacement”, in his own words, over hundreds of episodes totaling over 50 hours of content.
“I know the left and all the little Twitter gatekeepers literally go hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement’, if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters who are voting now, with new people. , more obedient third world voters. But they get hysterical because that’s what’s really happening. Let’s just say it: it’s true,” he said in an explicit example from an episode of his issue in September.
Many left-leaning commentators as well as reporters who cover the far-right were calling on Fox to respond to Carlson’s comments.
The network has repeatedly defended its primetime star, and a network spokesperson on Sunday highlighted the host’s past condemnation of “political violence” on his show.
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But hate and misinformation experts agree that the rhetoric that Carlson and other Republican-aligned figures have adopted is helping to bring these racist beliefs closer to the mainstream.
Among others in the conservative political sphere who have recently come under similar criticism are House Republican Caucus Chair Elise Stefanik, as well as Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters, who shared a clip of himself decrying supposed plans by Democrats to bring in “tens of millions” of undocumented immigrants in a bid to grant them the right to vote just hours after the Buffalo shootings.
Others on the far right have been flirting with white nationalist figures and rhetoric for even longer. Earlier this year, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene came under fire for attending a conference hosted by a white nationalist, Nick Fuentes, who is a leading proponent of the replacement theory, and other members of Congress. like Paul Gosar attended his and other similar events in the past as well.
An expert on black identity and anti-racism, Dr Matthew Oware of the University of Richmond, said The Independent that the rhetoric propagated by Mr. Carlson and others is based on “fantasy” and the exploitation of pain in society for their own gain or to explain society’s ills.
“Until we find ways to address the pain that individuals feel in our society (and other societies), we will continue to see acts of racialized, religious, homophobic and misogynistic violence around the world. I think we need to ask hurt people why they feel hurt and why they move their anger onto specific types of populations,” Dr. Oware said in an interview.
On Carlson, Dr. Oware noted that the Fox News host was capitalizing on a much older anger that also existed throughout the Obama presidency.
“The racism he is talking about existed before him and has been present in American society for some time. When Barack Obama was president, Dylann Roof (another young white man) killed several black people in a church in South Carolina,” said he explained. “Racist anger existed before Carlson. Tucker is just capitalizing on that.”
Many disagree on how to handle the increasingly widespread rhetoric from the far right. Some, including the liberal group Media Matters, have lobbied for Carlson to be kicked off the airwaves or for Fox News itself to lose ad money from companies unwilling to associate themselves with such messages.
Dr Oware countered that deplatforming was not the answer: “I strongly believe that Tucker Carlson should NOT be kicked off his show or that his rhetoric should be censored in any way. It’s racist, xenophobic and odious, that’s for sure. But it should be challenged in every possible way, not smothered. Stupid ideas should be undermined with factual evidence, not simply dismissed or shouted at.
“Tucker’s ideas should be engaged as much as possible, so that he (and others) know that his rhetoric will always prove wrong,” he continued.
Others, like the Anti-Defamation League, have taken the exact opposite response and are calling on Democrats to pass legislation aimed at curbing white supremacist beliefs on the airwaves and online.
“This was another predictable attack from an avowed white supremacist who imbibed hateful conspiracy theories online and then turned to violent action, this time primarily targeting black victims. We cannot remain complacent in the face of this continuing and serious threat to national security. More needs to be done – now – to push back against the racist and anti-Semitic violence advocated by the far right,” ADL President Jonathan Greenblatt said on Sunday.
He added: “We need our elected leaders at all levels to have the political will to pass meaningful legislation that will hold anyone involved in spreading white supremacy conspiracy theories to account and arrest the perpetrators. potentially violent terrorists before they commit a crime.”
Carlson remains the most-watched cable host in America, including among young people. Fox in general also remains atop rival networks CNN and MSNBC in the ratings wars, even as their rivals are increasingly vocal about the right-wing leanings of the network’s opinion leaders.
On Sunday, CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter did not speak directly to the network he frequently criticizes, but on Twitter he pointed out, via retweets, that the right-wing cable channel had refused to mention the shooter’s manifesto on his MediaBuzz show as well as Carlson’s Twitter post. from May 1 laughing at Time investigates his use of rhetoric that could be seen as an explicit embrace of “white replacement theory”.
The network previously suspended another host, Jeanine Pirro, in 2019 for comments questioning the patriotism of a black and Muslim MP, Ilhan Omar.