Nearly three months ago, Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia headlined a white nationalist event in Florida. Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, who spoke at the same gathering last year, appeared again at this year’s America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC) via video.
For the most part, GOP leaders had little to say about the ensuing controversy, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ultimately decided not to punish the right-wing duo. One former member of McCarthy’s leadership team, however, was willing to be direct in ways the would-be House Speaker was not.
Yesterday, in the wake of deadly gun violence over the weekend, Cheney raised the volume on her concerns. NBC News reported:
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., on Monday accused House GOP leadership of enabling white supremacy and antisemitism, which she suggested has inspired people to act upon those threats, leading to dangerous consequences.
It was over the weekend when a suspected shooter attacked a Buffalo grocery store, killing 10 and wounding three others. The accused gunman posted a hate-filled document online, promoting, among other things, the same “great replacement” conspiracy theory that far too many congressional Republicans have touted in recent months.
It was against this backdrop that Cheney — the House Republican Conference chair before she was ousted for telling the truth about Donald Trump and his election defeat — wrote online, “The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-Semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. [Republican] leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”
That’s excellent advice. Whether the party intends to follow it is another matter entirely.
A New York Times report added overnight, “Republicans across the spectrum were quick to denounce the killings. But fewer party leaders appeared willing to break with the politics of nativism and fear the party has embraced to retain the loyalties of right-wing voters inspired by Donald J. Trump.”
For example, Cheney’s successor in the House GOP leadership, Rep. Elise Stefanik, echoed the “replacement” garbage last fall. Pressed yesterday, the New York Republican refused to apologize, denied she ever promoted the conspiracy theory, and quickly proceeded to step on her own denial.
“Democrats desperately want wide open borders and mass amnesty for illegals allowing them to vote,” Stefanik wrote on Twitter yesterday morning.
A Washington Post analysis added soon after, “It’s great replacement theory — but leaving open the idea that maybe it’s all a coincidence.... She’s not saying this is an effort by elites to intentionally replace American voters. She’s just saying, you know, Democrats want to bring in a bunch of immigrants and let them vote. That’s all.”
Michael Gerson added in his latest column:
The perpetrator of this mass murder will not be given impunity. But the racist ideas closely associated with such killing are being granted impunity daily within the Republican Party. The problem is not just that a few loudmouths are saying racist things. It is the general refusal of Republican “leaders” to excommunicate officials who embrace replacement theory. The refusal of Fox News to fire the smiling, public faces of a dangerous, racist ideology. This much needs to be communicated — by all politicians and commentators — with clarity: No belief that likens our fellow citizens to invaders and encourages racist dehumanization is an American belief.
In theory, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy could echo this sentiment, show the racist extremists in his conference the door, and declare that those who espouse racist ideas will not be welcome in the contemporary Republican Party.
In practice, however, the GOP leader almost certainly lacks the courage and the political wherewithal to do anything of the kind.