Saturday’s mass shooting in Buffalo occurred less than eight months after an upstate New York newspaper scolded a leading Republican congresswoman for pushing the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.
“A white 18-year-old wearing military gear and live-streaming with a helmet camera opened fire with a rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, killing 10 people and wounding three others Saturday in what authorities described as ‘racially motived violent extremism.’ The gunman wore body armor and military-style clothing during the attack on mostly Black shoppers and workers at Tops Friendly Market,” the Times Union of Albany, New York, reported Saturday.
The suspect was identified by the newspaper as Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, a rural community roughly 150 miles southwest of Albany and 210 miles southeast of Buffalo.
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Prior to the shooting, the white 18-year-old reportedly posted a 106-page manifesto citing the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory as motivation.
In September of 2021, the newspaper’s editorial board wrote about the conspiracy theory and criticizing Rep. Elise Stefanik, who represents New York’s 21st congressional district, just north of the Albany region.
“Back in 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Va., carrying torches and chanting, ‘You will not replace us’ and ‘Jews will not replace us.’ Decent Americans recoiled at the undeniable echo of Nazi Germany,” began the editorial, which was illustrated with a photo of the notorious Charlottesville tiki torch march.
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“That rhetoric has been resonating ever since in the right wing, repackaged lately in what’s known as ‘replacement theory,’ espoused by conservative media figures like Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. And it has seeped into the mainstream political discourse in the Capital Region, where Rep. Elise Stefanik has adapted this despicable tactic for campaign ads,” the editorial board wrote.
Stefanik, the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, is the third-ranking Republican in Congress.
“Ms. Stefanik isn’t so brazen as to use the slogans themselves; rather, she couches the hate in alarmist anti-immigrant rhetoric that’s become standard fare for the party of Donald Trump. And she doesn’t quite attack immigrants directly; instead, she alleges that Democrats are looking to grant citizenship to undocumented immigrants in order to gain a permanent liberal majority, or, as she calls it, a ‘permanent election insurrection.’ Quite a choice of words, of course, considering that the country is still suffering the aftershocks of the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington by supporters of Mr. Trump who tried to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election,” the newspaper wrote.
The editorial board wrote that Stefanik knew what she was doing was wrong.
“The Harvard-educated Ms. Stefanik surely knows the sordid history and context of this. The idea of stoking racial, ethnic, and religious tribalism among voters dates back to this country’s earliest days. At various times, politicians have warned that Catholics, Jews, or Muslims were out to ‘change the culture,’ or that Irish, Italian, Asian or eastern European immigrants would take the jobs — to ‘replace’ white, Protestant Americans,” the editorial board explained. “If there’s anything that needs replacing in this country — and in the Republican party — it’s the hateful rhetoric that Ms. Stefanik and far too many of her colleagues so shamelessly spew.”
Stefanik did not mention racism in her statement on the Buffalo shooting, but did mention National Police Week.
Stefanik is not the only Republican member of Congress with history on the issue.
Also in September of 2021, after the Anti-Defamation League called on Fox News to fire Tucker Carlson for pushing the racist conspiracy theory, Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., declared the ADL “a racist organization” and claimed Carlson was “CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America.”
Read more on the “great replacement” conspiracy theory:
- How the “great replacement” theory went from Charlottesville to the GOP mainstream
- The dark history of the “Great Replacement”: Tucker Carlson’s racist fantasy has deep roots
- Tucker Carlson’s insecurity and the “great replacement” theory