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House GOP Unites Against Condemning White Supremacy Behind Buffalo Shooting

The “Great Replacement” theory is a white supremacist ideation that allegedly motivated the mass shooter in Buffalo.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman speaks during a news conference announcing a resolution to condemn replacement theory outside the U.S. Capitol on June 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

Every Republican in the House voted against a measure passed on Wednesday that condemns the recent mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, and denounces the white supremacist theory that supposedly motivated the shooter.

Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s (D-New York) measure, which passed 218 to 205 largely by party lines, explicitly condemns the “Great Replacement” theory — a bunk white supremacist and far right conspiracy theory that global elites are implementing a plan to saturate traditionally white countries with a majority of people of color.

The conspiracy theory, which has taken hold among right-wingers across the world, was allegedly the inspiration behind the shooting. The Buffalo mass shooter killed 10 people and injured three people; out of the 13 who were shot, 11 were Black.

“It takes two things to kill multiple people whom you don’t even know. It takes hate, and evil in someone’s heart, and a weapon of mass destruction,” Bowman said in a press conference for the resolution. Congress “need[s] to fight against hate in all of its forms to truly build a multiracial Democracy,” he said.

“The ‘Great Replacement’ theory believes that only white people are responsible for progress in our society, and that the growth of a multiracial and multi-religious society is a threat to white people’s existence and the health of our nation,” Bowman continued. “This has spread and infected the minds of so many.”

The procedural measure, which had 147 cosponsors in the House, was voted on before debate on Democrats’ bill to raise the age limit for purchasing semiautomatic guns and restrict the amount of ammunition that can be bought at once.

While it’s common for the minority party to vote against the majority party’s procedural measures, the move also highlights Republicans’ recalcitrance to condemn white supremacy as the party hurtles further to the right. Indeed, after the shooting, Republican leaders refused to condemn the hateful theory which has been openly embraced by far right politicians in the party; Fox News further amplified the lie on the network in the days following the shooting.

Though the theory has garnered national attention due to the recent shooting in Buffalo, it’s been at least partially responsible for several mass shootings and hate rallies over the past years; the shooter who killed 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, named his manifesto after the theory, and referenced it multiple times.

In a broader sense, white supremacy, which Republicans also refuse to condemn, has been at the roots of other recent mass shootings, including the 2015 massacre of worshipers at a historically Black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Instead, Republicans now seem more open than ever to embracing murder and violence when it’s done in the name of dangerous far right ideologies. In the past years, Republicans have made an idol out of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three people at a protest against police brutality in 2020, killing two of them. Rittenhouse has cavorted with far right militia members and has displayed white nationalist hand signals — and, when he was acquitted of murder charges after a biased trial, Republicans showered the killer with praise.

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