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Our Opinion: 'Renounce and reject' the Buffalo shooting

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It didn’t take long for the excuses, the “whataboutism,” the misdirection, to begin.

After all, in a 180-page document widely attributed to the Buffalo shooter — whose name we’ll not advertise, ever, on this page — he referred to himself as a “leftist.”

But there’s no prominent figure on the left who is teaching the racist “great replacement theory” that the shooter clearly said had motivated him —both in the document and in interviews following his arrest for the murderous mass shooting on Saturday.

No Democratic Party official is telling us that illegal immigrants are being released in the country to systematically replace white people.

No influential Democrats are speaking at white supremacy rallies or marching with white supremacist Proud Boys.

For that, sadly, you need Republicans.

Among the boosters of the “theory,” which often includes antisemitic elements, is white supremacy poster boy Tucker Carlson, the most popular host on Fox News — as well as U.S. Reps. Paul Gosar and Marjorie Taylor Greene, who have spoken at white supremacist rallies, and third-ranking House Republican Elise Stefanik, who regularly tweets warnings of “white replacement.”

Their party’s association with these killings will only get worse until responsible rank-and-file Republicans reject this propaganda and stand up to their own leaders.

Right now, their representatives are engaged in spin and denial. Arizona state Sen. Wendy Rogers even claimed the shooter is a federal agent. With, of course, no evidence.

A few Republicans have rejected the Kool-Aid. They include Rep. Liz Cheney, one of the few truth-tellers left among House Republicans, who tweeted: “The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and antisemitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse.

@GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”

They include former Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor, who tweeted: “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.”

But they’re the exceptions. While parents have been shaking in their sneakers over conservative claims that Black racists are teaching their kids to hate themselves via CRT (critical race theory), proponents of GRT (great replacement theory) have been actively trying to recruit teenagers to their cause. These white supremacists and neo-Nazis reach out to shy loners and offer friendship and emotional support. They attract people when “it feels that something is missing for them, whether it is a place to belong and a place to be accepted or a place to feel like they are doing something of great importance,” Angela King, co-founder and deputy director of Life after Hate, says.

Talk about “grooming.”

That’s the threat our schools need to address.

Violent rhetoric and imagery has been pervasive in the Republican Party for quite a while now. We see it in the election ads in which candidates show off their shooting skills. We hear it as Rep. Madison Cawthorn refuses to rebuke the voter who asks him when they can start shooting Democrats. We see it when they embrace and defend the Jan. 6 insurrectionists and downplay their violent actions.

But Republican leaders, rather than denounce violence and white supremacy, have flirted with them. They’ve tolerated them and given them a home — for electoral advantage.

In the meantime, 10 Black men and women won’t be going home to their families. They include Ruth Whitfield, 86, who was described as being devoted to her family; Roberta Drury, 32, who moved to Buffalo to be with her brother, who was being treated for leukemia; Aaron Salter, 55, a retired police officer who tried to stop the shooter; Heyward Patterson, 67, who was active in his church and was described by his family as a loving person; Pearl Young, 77, a substitute teacher who fed the poor through her church; Geraldine Talley, 62, described as “an amazing sister, mother, aunt”; Celestine Chaney, 65, a mother and grandmother who had survived breast cancer and aneurysms; Katherine Massey, 72, a tireless civil rights activist; Andre Mackneil, 53, “a loving and caring guy” visiting from Auburn, N.Y.; and Margus Morrison, 52, a bus aide for Buffalo schools.

Republicans need to denounce these killings — and the evil philosophy that fuels them. And they need to do it now.


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