Racist Attack Spotlights Stefanik’s Echo of Replacement Theory

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Annie Karni

May 16, 2022, 8:13 p.m. ET

May 16, 2022, 8:13 p.m. ET

Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, is nether  scrutiny for having echoed the racist “great replacement” mentation   successful  run  advertisements.
Credit...Tom Brenner for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Over the past week, Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, the third-ranking House Republican, has falsely claimed that President Biden is shipping babe look to undocumented immigrants astatine the disbursal of Americans amid a nationwide look shortage.

She has described Democrats arsenic “pedo grifters,” borrowing connection from the baseless pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy mentation that claims determination is simply a Satan-worshipping cabal of wide pedophiles, which has evolved into a question connected the right.

And aft the deadly wide shooting successful Buffalo, wherever a heavy equipped achromatic antheral is accused of sidesplitting 10 Black radical astatine a supermarket successful a racist rampage, Ms. Stefanik is nether scrutiny for run advertisements she has circulated that play connected themes of the white supremacist “great replacement” theory, which holds that the elite class, sometimes manipulated by Jews, wants to “replace” and disempower achromatic Americans.

Ms. Stefanik, a onetime mean Republican who worked successful President George W. Bush’s White House and was a protégé of erstwhile Speaker Paul D. Ryan, has agelong been seen arsenic a rising prima successful her party, and she inactive is. But arsenic she has ascended, the Republican Party has transformed, lurching to the close on with her territory successful upstate New York, and she has shape-shifted on with it.

Now, she proudly describes herself arsenic an “ultra MAGA” warrior and aggressively appeals to the hard right, sounding nativist themes that animate the Republican base.

The racist massacre, which unfolded successful a territory not acold from her own, has shone a spotlight connected Ms. Stefanik. In the days since, Democrats and adjacent immoderate Republicans person suggested that Ms. Stefanik and her enactment person stoked the beliefs that led to the killings, by catering to a basal that volition not tolerate outright condemnation of the astir fringe ideas.

Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, who was ousted past twelvemonth arsenic league seat and replaced by Ms. Stefanik, said connected Monday that House Republican leaders had “enabled achromatic nationalism, achromatic supremacy, and antisemitism.” In a posting connected Twitter, she called connected her party’s leaders to “renounce and cull these views and those who clasp them.”

But arsenic Democrats decried the achromatic supremacist ideology that gave emergence to the wide killing, Ms. Stefanik and different House Republican leaders were mostly soundless astir the racism that seemingly motivated the shooter.

Far from apologizing for the nativist connection and themes she has amplified, Ms. Stefanik, who has been floated to erstwhile President Donald J. Trump arsenic a imaginable moving mate and who is wide seen successful Congress arsenic a campaigner to go her party’s adjacent House whip, is pursuing Mr. Trump’s example.

Like Mr. Trump, Ms. Stefanik’s effect erstwhile nether occurrence is to onslaught her attackers. Like Mr. Trump, she vehemently defends herself against charges of holding immoderate racist views, portion astatine the aforesaid clip utilizing rhetoric that energizes far-right and fringe groups.

On Monday, she released a lengthy connection attacking the media for reporting connected statements she has made that echo replacement mentation claims, but ne'er disavowed the ideology, and did not condemn racism oregon achromatic supremacy.

Later, pressed astatine the Capitol astir the criticisms from Democrats, Ms. Stefanik said, “I condemn racism.” But erstwhile asked specifically if she rejects replacement theory, she sidestepped the question.

“I’ve ne'er made a racist comment,” she told CNN, noting that she had supported Black and Hispanic candidates.

Last year, Ms. Stefanik ran an advertisement connected Facebook successful which she accused “radical Democrats” of readying what she described arsenic a “PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.”

“Their program to assistance amnesty to 11 MILLION amerciable immigrants volition overthrow our existent electorate and make a imperishable wide bulk successful Washington,” the advertisement said.

Aides to Ms. Stefanik said the advertisement was addressing the request for stronger borderline security, and referring to Mr. Biden’s connection to connection a pathway to U.S. citizenship for astir 11 cardinal undocumented radical and a proposal to springiness 800,000 noncitizens successful New York the close to ballot successful municipal elections.

Democrats were speedy to constituent retired that attacks similar those Ms. Stefanik person lodged person astatine their halfway the aforesaid grievance arsenic replacement theory.

“The subtext is clear,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the bulk leader, said successful a speech. “These hard-right MAGA Republicans reason that radical of colour and number communities are someway posing a menace — a menace — to the American mode of life.”

Ms. Stefanik has besides refrained from calling retired extremists successful her party’s ranks who are explicit astir specified views. Earlier this year, she refused to denounce Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, aft Ms. Greene spoke astatine a achromatic nationalist event.

“They correspond their constituents, and they are held accountable for the statements they make,” Ms. Stefanik said successful an interrogation successful March, saying that the House Republican league arsenic a full did not stock Ms. Greene’s views.

Ms. Stefanik, a Harvard postgraduate who erstwhile privately conceded to friends that Mr. Trump was a liability for her party, has embraced her relation arsenic 1 of his unequivocal supporters. After Mr. Biden derided Republicans who person refashioned themselves successful the mold of Mr. Trump arsenic “ultra MAGA,” Ms. Stefanik turned the disapproval into a fund-raising opportunity. Her run present sells T-shirts that read, “I americium ultra MAGA and arrogant of it.”

The attack suggests that Ms. Stefanik sees small downside successful being viewed arsenic extreme; the lone governmental hazard she fears is being regarded arsenic insufficiently hard-line. In an interrogation connected the sidelines of the Republican retreat extracurricular Jacksonville successful March, Ms. Stefanik repeatedly echoed Mr. Trump’s lies astir the 2020 predetermination being stolen and refused to admit Mr. Biden arsenic the legitimately elected president.

Afterward, an adjutant followed up to reenforce that she had repeated the mendacious predetermination claims and refused to judge Mr. Biden’s legitimacy, making definite those points were not mislaid connected the reporter.

Still, portion Ms. Stefanik has aggressively courted the acold right, she has besides worked to support a veil of respectability wrong her party, moving to stay palatable to donors.

On Monday radical adjacent to her said her notation to “pedo grifters” had not been to QAnon but to John Weaver, a Never Trump operative who had made intersexual overtures to young men.

To guarantee a aboriginal successful the Republican Party, said Bill Kristol, the salient Never-Trump Republican, “you privation The Wall Street Journal to consciousness OK astir supporting you, but you besides privation networks similar O.A.N.N. and hosts similar Tucker Carlson saying, ‘Yeah she’s beauteous good.’ ”

Stephen K. Bannon, the erstwhile Trump White House authoritative who present hosts an influential podcast connected the right, said Ms. Stefanik could not attraction little astir disapproval from the left, utilizing an expletive for emphasis.

What keeps her up astatine night, Mr. Bannon said, is immoderate menace from the right.

“She’s successful a contention close present with Representative Jim Banks astir who is going farther right,” helium said, referring to the Indiana Republican and president of the Republican Study Committee, who has besides refashioned himself from a question blimpish into a Trump acolyte arsenic helium seeks to emergence successful powerfulness successful Washington.

Some of Ms. Stefanik’s caller moves, radical adjacent to her said, appeared to beryllium motivated by her interior contention with Mr. Banks.

Last week, Mr. Banks was 1 of 56 Republicans who voted against a $40 cardinal bundle of assistance for Ukraine. Ms. Stefanik voted for the bill, drafting disapproval from the close for doing so.

Ms. Stefanik had reservations, said radical acquainted with her thinking, and raised concerns astir the optics of sending truthful overmuch wealth overseas amid truthful galore challenges astatine home. But she yet sided with the bulk of the conference, and with the Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy, and voted for the bill.

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