Republican Senate candidates promote the “surrogate” theory

NEW YORK — A half-dozen mainstream Republican Senate candidates this campaign season are leaning on the “grand surrogate” conspiracy theory, once confined to the far-right fringes of US politics, to bring voters to justice, and promoting the baseless one Notion that there is a conspiracy to reduce white influence in America.

In some cases, the comments have been largely overlooked given the harsh immigration rhetoric that has become commonplace among conservatives during the Trump era. But a weekend mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, which may have been inspired by racist theory, draws new attention to the GOP’s growing acceptance of white nationalist beliefs.

Three weeks ago in Arizona, Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters accused Democrats of trying to flood the nation with millions of immigrants “to change our country’s demographics.” A few days later in Missouri, Senate hopeful Eric Schmitt, the state’s attorney general, said Democrats were “fundamentally trying to transform this country through illegal immigration.” And in Ohio, Republican Senate candidate JD Vance accused Democrats of trying to “convert voters.”

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Vance warned of an “invasion” of immigrants, telling Fox News Channel that Democrats “have decided they can’t win re-election in 2022 unless they bring a large number of new voters to the voters already here.” to replace”.

Some of the Republican campaigns have disputed that their statements amounted to a replacement theory, but there is little doubt among experts.

Five hate speech experts who reviewed Republican candidates’ comments confirmed that they hold the baseless racist theory, though Republicans make no direct mention of race.

“Comments like this demonstrate two key characteristics of a great surrogate conspiracy theory. They predict a racist doomsday and say it’s all part of an orchestrated master plan. It’s just the language that’s softened,” said American University Professor Brian Hughes, associate director of the Research and Innovation Laboratory on Polarization and Extremism. The enemy is orchestrating the downfall for white Americans by plotting to invade the country with non-whites to fill.”

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In fact, a mainstream interpretation of replacement theory in the US baselessly suggests that Democrats encourage immigration from Latin America so more like-minded potential voters will replace “traditional” Americans, says Mark Pitcavage, senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism.

Such a message has become central to the modern conservative movement’s appeal to voters. Former President Donald Trump has repeatedly warned of an immigrant invasion of the southern border and has been reluctant to condemn white supremacy throughout his presidency.

Shortly after taking office, Trump shared a social media post from someone with the username WhiteGenocideTM.

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The surrogate theory is explored as a motivating factor in the Buffalo supermarket shooting that killed 10 black people and injured three others.

Rep. Liz Cheney, who was ousted from the House Republican leadership for her outspoken criticism of Trump, on Monday accused her own party of enabling “white nationalism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism.”

“History has taught us that what begins with words ends much worse,” Cheney tweeted. GOP “Leaders must abandon and reject these views and those who hold them.”

Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, through a spokesman, declined to answer questions about whether the GOP condones the replacement theory. Instead, she accused her critics of making politics.

“The attempt by Democrats and some in the media to take advantage of the Buffalo tragedy by slandering millions of Americans is abhorrent,” McDaniel wrote on Twitter.

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The White House on Monday declined to invoke Republican rhetoric. But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., wasn’t so subtle.

“Unfortunately, with each passing year, it seems harder and harder to ignore the fact that the findings of replacement theory and other racially motivated views are increasingly coming to the fore and are allegedly being legitimized by some MAGA Republicans and cable news pundits,” Schumer said.

“It’s dangerous,” he added. “It poisons the mind.”

It has also become a mainstream view of the political right.

In a poll released last week, The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 1 in 3 Americans believe efforts are underway to replace US-born Americans with immigrants in order to win elections.

Fox News’ most popular personality, Tucker Carlson, was one of the theory’s biggest proponents. A New York Times study of Carlson’s show over five years found 400 instances in which he spoke about Democratic politicians and others trying to force demographic change through immigration.

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But so far, at least, less attention has been focused on Republican candidates preparing to face voters in the coming weeks and months who, in some cases, have backed the theory on a regular basis.

In interviews with conservative national television and radio last year, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson called the replacement theory “the Democrats’ grand plan.”

“I have to think they want to change the makeup of the electorate,” he told a Conservative Minneapolis-area 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 recently made similar statements.

During a tour of the US-Mexico border last month, former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said immigrants who crossed the border illegally “streamed into all 50 states, including Missouri.”

“What is also very clear is that Joe Biden’s policies are an attack on the whole idea of ​​America,” Greitens said. “He erases the distinction between citizens and non-citizens, and he does it on purpose.”

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A week later, Schmitt, Greit’s Republican rival, claimed that tens of millions of immigrants entered the United States illegally because of Biden’s policies. He said Democrats are deliberately encouraging illegal immigration for their own benefit.

“They’re essentially trying to change this country through their illegal immigration policy,” Schmitt told Conservative commentator Glenn Beck.

Schmitt’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment. Greitens ignored questions about the replacement theory, but in a written statement called the mass shooting in Buffalo “truly appalling.”

“Interestingly, the Buffalo shooter wrote, ‘One of my favorite TV shows is The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC.’ Maybe the media should also report on it,” said Breitens.

In Arizona, Masters has warned throughout his campaign of a Democrat plan to transform the US electorate.

“Obviously Democrats are just hoping to change the demographics of our country,” Masters said on the Patriot Edition podcast late last month. “They hope to import a whole new constituency. Then they call you a racist and a fanatic.”

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In Ohio, Vance has already secured a seat in the November election. He won Trump’s endorsement after adopting many of the former president’s hard-line views, including those related to immigration.

Vance told Breitbart News last month that Democrats are trying to illegally vote 15 million immigrants in the country. “You’re trying to change the electorate of this country,” he said.

He made similar remarks days later at a city hall in Portsmouth, Ohio.

Shortly after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, congressional Democrats proposed legislation that would include an eight-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal residents of the country, but the proposal has stalled with little chance of clearing Congress .

“Of course,” Vance said, “you get accused of being a racist just to point it out. We can decide, the people decide how we change the country or not.”

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The Vance campaign declined to comment.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2022/05/17/republican-senate-candidates-promote-replacement-theory/ Republican Senate candidates promote the “surrogate” theory

Justin Scacco

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