Buffalo mass shooting: Former Trump official says Republican rhetoric is directly fueling domestic terrorism

Buffalo shooting is latest high-profile incident of apparent white supremacist violence

John Bowden
Washington DC
Sunday 15 May 2022 16:46
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Police says Buffalo shooting was 'pure evil'
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A former official in Donald Trump’s administration is sounding the alarm about the danger of far-right rhetoric in the wake of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York.

Miles Taylor, a former deputy chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, wrote on Twitter early on Sunday morning that the words of “leaders” of the GOP, including presumably Donald Trump, was responsible for “directly” inspiring violence like the attack an 18-year-old is accused of carrying out in a Buffalo supermarket on Saturday that left 10 dead and others injured.

“I spent a decade working in counterterrorism. The rhetoric we are seeing from leaders of my party — the Republican Party — is *directly* fueling violence and a spike in domestic terrorism. This is not a partisan observation. This is a public safety warning,” wrote Mr Taylor, who previously rocketed to notoriety after revealing himself to be the author of an anonymous op-ed declaring himself part of a “resistance” inside Mr Trump’s administration.

His remarks were far from abnormal on Sunday as news reports rolled in revealing a shocking manifesto apparently posted online by the accused Buffalo shooter in which he details a white supremacist ideology and espouses so-called “white replacement theory”, a racist belief that the American left is attempting to grow in power by attracting immigrants, particularly immigrants of colour, to the United States in an attempt to gradually “replace” white people in American society.

The racist theory has been espoused by several committers of mass violence around the world, including the Christchurch, New Zealand shooting in 2019 and the attacks in Pittsburgh and El Paso in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

Many experts honed in on such rhetoric being espoused (or at the very least flirted with) by leaders in the Republican Party in the wake of Saturday’s shooting, where the accused shooter is thought to have traveled for hours to reach a Black neighborhood where he could carry out his attack.

CNN correspondent Abby Phillip discussed the issue on Inside Poltics Sunday and noted that Elise Stefanik, a New York congresswoman and leader of the House Republican Conference, has been called out for using language that could be seen as a tacit embrace of white replacement theory in ads for her reeelction campaign that declare: "Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Nancy Pelosi are attempting to flood our voter roles with 11 MILLION NEW VOTERS by giving illegal immigrants amnesty."

“Over the weekend, Adam Kinzinger highlighted the no. 3 Republican in the house, Elise Stefanik’s use of the White replacement theory,” Ms Phillip said, before reading Mr Kinzinger’s tweet from the night prior: “‘Did you know Stefanik pushes white replacement theory? The no. 3 in the House GOP, Liz Cheney, got removed for demanding the truth. The Republican leader should be asked about this.”

Ms Philip then noted that Fox News’s primetime opinion hosts, champions of the far right in America, have flirted with the same racist theories.

She said: “It’s not just Elise Stefanik. If you watch Fox News, this is the mainstay of their primetime hours. Tucker Carlson discusses it in sometimes euphemistic form, but not really all that euphemistic.”

One of NBC News’s reporters on the far-right and disinformation beat, Ben Collins, came to a similar conclusion.

“It's a bog standard white supremacist Great Replacement Theory rant,” he wrote, explaining that NBC had confirmed the manifesto was published online on Thursday.

President Joe Biden called the incident an example of “hate-fueled domestic terrorism” but did not directly point to the far-right’s embrace of the racist “white replacement theory” as linked to the shooting.

“A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation. Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America. Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism,” said the president in a statement.”

New York’s governor, Kathy Hochul, was far more direct, calling it “white supremacy terrorism” on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday.

Progressive leaders in the party, like Boston’s Mayor Michelle Wu, were less hesitant too.

“We must confront & uproot white supremacy & all forms of hatred in our society,” she tweeted.

At least for now, the GOP’s right wing is showing no signs of slowing down their use of rhetoric that tacitly embraces the fears harboured by extremists.

Just hours after the attack GOP Senate candidate Blake Masters took to Twitter to promote a clip of himself appearing on conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s show, in which Mr Masters embraced the same fears about Democrats trying to “bring in” tens of millions of undocumented immigrants and grant them citizenship to boost their vote totals in future elections.

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