Right-wing Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) was denounced by her local newspaper for touting the racist “great replacement theory” just months before an accused mass killer used it to justify a racist massacre in Stefanik’s state.
“How low, Ms. Stefanik?” the editorial in the Albany Times Union asked in September.
Stefanik, a Donald Trump disciple who’s now the third-ranking House Republican, was condemned by the newspaper for a Facebook campaign ad campaign that promoted the racist conspiracy that whites are being replaced by people of color through immigration or, eventually, violence. Other right-wing figures, including Fox News personality Tucker Carlson, also have pitched the racist falsehood.
Payton Gendron, the accused Buffalo supermarket shooter, repeatedly cited the theory in an online treatise before allegedly shooting 13 people, killing 10 — most of them Black.
Stefanik’s ads didn’t specifically name the theory, but clearly evoked its racist vision. The Republican lawmaker “isn’t so brazen as to use the [usual theory] slogans themselves; rather, she couches the hate in alarmist anti-immigrant rhetoric that’s become standard fare for the party of Donald Trump,” the Albany Times Union editorial charged.
“The idea of America as a melting pot is not some idealistic fiction of the left; it is part of the foundation of this nation’s greatness,” the paper wrote. “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 seamlessly spew.”
Stefanik’s ad accused President Joe Biden and Democrats of fomenting a “permanent election insurrection” by allowing increasing numbers of immigrants into the U.S. and expanding citizenship for undocumented immigrants to capture their votes. It was all a ploy to outnumber white Republican voters to silence them, she claimed.
Stefanik’s senior adviser Alex deGrasse told the Times Union Sunday that the lawmaker has never supported replacement theory — or racism. He told The Washington Post that the claims against Stefanik are a “new disgusting low for the left … and the sycophant stenographers in the media.”
“The shooting was an act of evil and the criminal should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” deGrasse added.
Stefanik was roundly attacked last week for blaming mysterious “pedo grifters” for somehow causing the shortage of infant formula in the U.S. Some critics viewed it as a dog whistle to QAnon conspiracists who baselessly believe Democrats are running an international child sex trafficking ring.
Critics warned that such outlandish claims could trigger violence against imagined enemies. A gunman opened fire in 2016 on a Washington pizzeria that was identified as a headquarters for the nonexistent trafficking operation. No one was injured. The gunman was sentenced to four years in prison.