First came critical race theory in public school classrooms in Virginia -- even though there is no such thing -- that allowed Republican Glenn Youngkin to win the state's race for governor. The race came down to race, and voters were hoodwinked into thinking their children were being exposed to harsh history lessons, when instead these lessons whitewash the United States.
For God's sake, don't talk about slavery or systemic racism, lest your children think white people did something wrong.
Not to be outdone, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had parents up in arms because the word "gay" was being dropped in the classroom like pencils on the floor. His "don't say gay" law was nothing new, and it was a blatant attempt to scare voters and give him a wedge issue that he can "own" for his presidential bid in 2024.
For God's sake, teachers need to stop talking about gay or trans things, all day, every day, in the classroom, lest kids begin considering becoming queer.
The Republican contenders for local, state, and federal offices this election year picked up the "don't say gay" strategy but took it a step further. They began to label their opponents, who supported LGBTQ+ youth and trans kids getting proper medical care, as pedophiles and groomers.
For God's sake, keep the gays or even straight sympathizers who have a modicum of empathy for queer and trans kids away from your kids since they are a threat to their safety.
I really didn't think that things could get any lower than accusing someone of being a child molester, but silly me for being so naive. Now Republicans, including New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, she of the looney tunes House leadership, have been exposed as purveyors of the great "replacement" theory.
The Buffalo shooting happened, and it's like the lid blew off and suddenly the great "replacement" theory replaced "don't say gay" as the cause du jour of the extreme right. In the rambling manifesto that the shooter shared, he had this to say, according to Slate:
"I simply became racist after I learned the truth," [the gunman] wrote. and the truth as he understood it was that "the White race is dying out" and that "We are doomed by low birth rates and high rates of immigration." He said his attack was, "beyond all doubt, anti-immigration, anti-ethnic replacement and anti-cultural replacement."
The shooter in a manifesto referenced the "great replacement theory," which falsely asserts that the white population's influence is being threatened by a flood of immigration. Republicans avowed zero connection between that racist ideology and the "election insurrection" of migrations that Stefanik's ad warned of.
Politico explained that her warning came in a series of digital ads she approved last year, which said "radical Democrats" were plotting a "permanent election insurrection" by seeking to "grant amnesty" to millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Democrats were taking that action to "overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington," the ads said.
Imagine if she felt this way about getting rid of guns instead of immigrants and people of color?
As a result of all of this, Republicans are quietly -- and some not so quietly -- putting the word out that if you are white, straight, and Anglo-Saxon, you are about to get swallowed up and replaced by the tidal wave of Black, brown, and Asian people, and just about any color, rushing to run all over lily-white people and making them second-class citizens.
The imperial wizard of this movement is ... want to take a guess? Tucker Carlson. No surprise here. "Over the past year, Carlson has repeatedly either alluded to or directly mentioned a thesis known as the 'great replacement' theory," Slate notes. "This exercise in toxic demography essentially argues that white people of European origin are being usurped of their primacy in Western society by [insert minority group here]."
And, according to a recent New York Times series, Carlson has voiced this theory or elements of it over 400 times on Tucker Carlson Tonight.
That's 400 times his viewers have heard this. That's 400 times politicians running in deep-red states and elsewhere (Stefanik is from upstate New York) have heard his white supremacist messages. And 400 times would-be mass shooters have heard Carlson's call to action.
Like pizza dough, the message is pounded over and over and over and over again, then it's spread out, layered with toppings of minority groups, put in the oven where the fire spreads over it, and eventually the message and all the toppings are baked in. Thus, it's too late to pull back this hatred.
As an NPR headline succinctly put it, "The 'Great Replacement' Conspiracy Theory Isn't Fringe Anymore, It's Mainstream." In the NPR article, Cynthia Miller-Idriss, professor and director of the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab at American University said, "It has unified and really spread [the conspiracies] online in memes and videos and in a lot of propaganda. It capitalized on a moment when you're not just reading written propaganda or sharing it in a newsletter or in a small group in a backwoods militia. But it's circulating in these dark online spaces where this [alleged] Buffalo shooter writes he was exposed and radicalized."
And it's being spread in plain sight by Carlson and Laura Ingraham, Stefanik, and U.S. Reps Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, who spoke earlier this year at a white nationalist rally in Florida. Did they wear a white hood? Did they do a Hitler salute? Most likely, since cameras were banned -- and there's got to be a reason for that.
You can draw a straight line from critical race theory, "don't say gay," "pedophiles" and "groomers" to great replacement. That line goes down, bends right, bends down again, and then the order is reversed and crosses over the original line. It is a swastika. A 21st-century modernization of a logo of hate, cruelty, fear, and horror. And it's happening here in the United States. And it's not lying dormant. It is spreading. A high school lacrosse player in Ohio drew one on his leg. That's how far down this depravity seeps.
And what's frightening about it is that it's not going away. Some feign horror at the shooting in Buffalo like Stefanik, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Republican Whip Steve Scalise. But their comments are crocodile tears.
If they are horrified, then why wasn't Stefanik ordered to remove her racist ads -- last year? Instead, she was promoted to take the exiled Rep. Liz Cheney's place as the House Republican Conference chair. A racist sits among the leaders of the Republican Party; however, after the Buffalo shooting, the leadership said Stefanik wasn't a racist. Odd place and timing for such a pronouncement, and oh, by the way, you can't have it both ways.
The Republican leaders were aghast at what happened in Buffalo, yet they defended Stefanik, and they let Greene and Gosar attend racist events with no repercussions.
Do you call that leadership? Hardly. They are the grand wizards of the Republican Party, hiding under metaphorical white hoods, and they take their cues from Imperial Wizard Carlson who has burned crosses 400 times on his show, stoking the flames of unabashed bigotry to his adoring audiences, who usually fall in line with him.
Critical race theory, "don't say gay," "pedophile" and "groomer," and now great replacement are the platform points in the new and dark Republican Party. They cannot win on results. They have none. So they want you to fear what your children are learning. They want you scared to death of anyone who falls under the umbrella of LGBTQ+. They want you petrified that your child will be groomed and molested. And they want you in fear of anyone who is not white.
These suspicions and terrors are all linked. And it's just going to get worse.
The days of critical race theory, "don't say gay," and "pedophile" and "groomer" seem like much simpler times, and that's a sickening thing to say. But it's true. Innocent people, innocent Americans, were murdered this past weekend in Buffalo because one, of perhaps millions, got the message of great replacement theory loud and clear. Will it end there? Horrifically, probably not.
Remember, these sentiments are baked in. They are repeated. They are amplified. They spread. They won't be undone. It will just get worse until there's a tipping point, and when that happens ... it will be a bloodbath. For God's sake, please spare us from any more of Youngkin, DeSantis, Stefanik, Carlson, and all the other disciples of hate, bigotry, and carnage.
John Casey is editor at large for The Advocate.