While news continues to come about the Buffalo attacker’s embrace of white nationalist rhetoric in a lengthy manifesto detailing the Buffalo attacker’s plans and rationale to carry out Saturday’s horrific attack, many are pointing to figures on the right adopting similar viewpoints to help this type of racism become mainstream. .
On Saturday, in a mostly Black neighborhood, 10 people were killed and others injured after an 18-year-old suspect opened fire, allegedly to kill as many Black people as possible. This was just the latest in a long string of attacks inspired by far-right rhetoric about race and immigration issues.
In a manifesto confirmed by several news outlets as belonging to the shooter, the 18-year-old openly attributes his motives to reversing a trend referred to by white supremacist conspiracy theorists as the “white substitution theory.” In short, the conspiracy spreads the false belief that Democrats are trying to replace white Americans with Hispanic immigrants and other people of color in order to radically change the voting population in the United States.
Experts have long noted that the theory inspired multiple far-right attacks, including the Christchurch mosque massacre in New Zealand in 2019, in which 51 people were killed, and the subsequent shooting at a shopping mall in El Paso, Texas. The year 23 people died.
Now the theory is at the center of the discourse again, as the alleged Buffalo hitman is said to have expressed how he was radicalized, both by far-right message boards like 4chan and other white supremacist websites, and by the manifesto spread online by Brenton. Harrison Tarrant is the man convicted of the shooting in New Zealand.
While the Buffalo suspect appears to have announced his radicalization online, real-life statements from top conservatives are being reexamined after the shooting.
Topping the list of purveyors of similar theories is Fox News primetime host Tucker Carlson. New York Times He has covered the subject of demographic “switching” in hundreds of episodes, which, as he puts it, contains more than 50 hours of content in total.
“I know the left and all the wicket-keepers on Twitter are literally getting hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement’, suggesting that the Democratic Party is trying to replace existing voters, the voters who are now voting, with new, more obedient voters from the third world. But they get hysterical because that’s what really happened. Let’s just say this: It’s true,” he said with a clear example from an episode of his September show.
Many left-wing commentators and far-right journalists urged Fox to cover Carlson’s comments.
The network has defended the primetime star multiple times, and a spokesperson for the network on Sunday noted that the host has condemned “political violence” in the past on her schedule.
But hate and disinformation experts agree that the rhetoric espoused by Carlson and other Republican-aligned figures plays with such racist beliefs that are moving closer to the mainstream.
Others who have faced similar criticism recently in the conservative political community include Elise Stefanik, chair of the House Republican Caucus, and Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters, who shared a clip criticizing the Democrats’ alleged plans to “gather tens of millions.” of undocumented immigrants” in an effort to give them the right to vote just hours after the Buffalo attack took place.
Others on the far right flirted with white nationalist figures and rhetoric even longer. Earlier this year, Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene was harshly criticized for attending a conference hosted by other members of Congress, including Nick Fuentes and Paul Gosar, a white nationalist who is one of the most prominent proponents of the substitution theory belief. past too.
Dr Matthew Oware of the University of Richmond, an expert on Black identity and anti-racism, said: Independent The rhetoric propagated by Mr. Carlson and others is based on “fear-mongering” and exploiting society’s sufferings for their own benefit or to explain society’s ills.
“Until we find ways to address the pain individuals feel in our society (and in other societies), we will continue to see acts of racialized, religious, homophobic and misogynistic violence around the world. I think we should ask hurt people why they are hurt and why they are shifting their anger towards certain populations,” Dr Oware said in an interview.
At Carlson, Dr Oware noted that the Fox News anchor drew on a much older anger that was present throughout the Obama presidency.
The racism that comes out of his mouth existed before him and has been in American society for a long time. “When Barack Obama became president, Dylann Roof (another young white male) killed a large number of Blacks in a South Carolina church,” he said. “Racial anger existed before Carlson. Tucker just takes advantage of it.”
Many do not agree on how to deal with the rhetoric that is increasingly being spread by the far right. Some, including particularly the liberal Media Matters group, wanted Carlson to be taken down or Fox News itself to lose its advertising money from companies unwilling to engage with such messages.
Dr Oware disagreed that removing it from the platform was not the answer: “I firmly believe that Tucker Carlson shouldn’t be kicked off his show or that his rhetoric should be censored in any way. Absolutely racist, xenophobic and disgusting. But it must be challenged in every possible way, not silenced. Stupid ideas need to be undermined with factual evidence, not just dismissed or humiliated.”
“Tucker’s ideas should be put to work whenever possible so that he (and others) know that his rhetoric will always be shown to be false,” he continued.
Others, such as the Anti-Defamation League, have received the opposite response, urging Democrats to pass laws on the radio and online aimed at fighting white supremacist beliefs.
“This was another predictable attack by an outspoken white supremacist who absorbed hateful conspiracy theories online and then turned to violent action, this time targeting mostly Black victims. We cannot remain indifferent to this continuing and serious threat to national security. ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt said on Sunday that more needs to be done now to repel racist and antisemitic violence perpetrated by the far right.
We need our elected leaders at all levels to have the political will to pass meaningful legislation that will take account of everyone involved in spreading white supremacist conspiracy theories and stop potentially violent terrorists before they commit a crime.
Carlson remains the most-watched cable host in America, including the youth population. Fox generally takes the top spot in the ratings wars of rival networks CNN and MSNBC.
On Sunday, CNN’s media correspondent Brian Stelter did not directly address the network he often criticizes, but stressed on Twitter that he refused, via retweets, to mention the attacker’s manifesto and Carlson’s Twitter post on the right-leaning cable channel’s MediaBuzz program. Laughing from May 1st Times A study of the use of rhetoric, which can be seen as a clear embrace of the “white substitution theory”.
The network previously suspended another host, Jeanine Pirro, in 2019 for comments questioning the patriotism of Ilhan Omar, a Black and Muslim congressman.