A tragedy in Buffalo

Indivisible Guide
7 min readMay 18, 2022
Screenshot via ABC News

CW: Racism, Mass Murder, Anti-Semitism — The top of this week’s Newsletter will be addressing the terror attack in Buffalo this week. To bypass the majority of that content, head to the To Dos section.

A white nationalist perpetrated a terror attack in a Tops grocery store in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, murdering 10 people and leaving another 3 injured in his wake. The terrorist drove three hours to target a Black neighborhood, where 11 of his 13 victims were Black shoppers. He livestreamed the murders in real time, and other white supremacists shared it. This was planned. This was orchestrated. This was a hate crime.

We want to be clear — this was not solely a mass shooting. This was not the isolated act of a disturbed individual. This was not simply America’s lax gun laws coming back to harm its citizens again. This was a continuation of pernicious white-supremacist conspiracy ideology: The Great Replacement Theory (GRT).

Originally coined to stoke anti-Muslim fears in France, GRT was immediately taken up by American white supremacists and adapted to our country’s unique racial history in order to further feelings of white superiority, invoking anti-Blackness and anti-Semitism to scare white Americans into the arms of the Republican party.

GRT has roots in the racist idea of Black sexual promiscuity and insatiable sexual appetite widely accepted in slavery-era America. When white slave owners forced their slaves to produce as many offspring as possible, while simultaneously stealing African peoples from their homes, the population boom that it produced presented racist opportunity and obstacle — the opportunity became the three-fifths compromise, which allowed enslaved peoples to be counted as part of the population for purposes of representation (though not granted votes) and the obstacle was in the shrinking ratio of white to Black people in the country.

That fear, the looming concern of a Black population becoming so large that they could wrest control of their own lives away from a white ruling class, led to the KKK, to lynchings, and to preventative retaliation against anything that white slave-owners believed could possibly be a rebellion among other hyper-aggressive responses.

Manufactured fear leading to racial violence is the exact legacy that brings us to GRT today.

When the 2000 census projected that white people would no longer be the majority in this country by 2060, white nationalist groups began to stoke the fire of losing “their” country. By 2012, we see the first instance of the phrase “Great Replacement Theory” as it was coined by French author Renaud Camus (this NYT piece has a deeper look at Camus’ influence). For the most part, the theory was relegated to white nationalist spaces, slowly gaining momentum until a tipping point.

When Donald Trump was elected president, as we know, the dam broke. White nationalists chanted, “Jews(you) will not replace us” in Charlottesville, VA. Tucker Carlson overtly broadcast far-right rhetoric directly into millions of viewer’s homes. Mainstream Republicans like Elise Stefanik, Blake Masters, Ron Johnson, and more adopted racist rhetoric from the dark corners of the internet and centered it in their appeal to voters. The idea that whites were under threat of “replacement” by People of Color, enabled by a global Jewish cabal, moved from the fringe of the Republican party to its most popular stars, stoking racial fears in an attempt to gain political power. As Rolling Stone put it, The Buffalo Shooter Isn’t a ‘Lone Wolf.’ He’s a Mainstream Republican.

Stoking white fear of being replaced isn’t a new tactic. It was used during the Red Scare. It was used against the Black Panther Party. It has been used for years as an excuse to close our borders to immigrants who would seek safety and opportunity in a new country.

You know who else used it? Adolf Hitler. It is no surprise that a movement that finds its foundations in mass murder, eugenics, and genocide specifically uses anti-Semitic rhetoric to promote the lie that Jewish power brokers are trying to install Black and brown people in a new power structure in the United States — American white nationalism has a long tradition of taking its lead from Nazi propaganda.

As our country has grown more politically polarized and pundits like Tucker Carlson explicitly stoke fears for ratings, some people internalize these fears and use them as a call to arms — mass murder becomes the only solution to defend “their country.” (Our country certainly is in danger, but that danger is coming from inside the house.)

We must do everything that we can do to disrupt and discourage this ideology. Ideas that we may have once believed to be so fringe that it was best to ignore them we are now learning must be actively and aggressively combatted.

We need to vote these politicians out of office — GRT is not a mistake that grew out of Republican ignorance. It is an active movement promoted by popular Republicans with violent consequences that we are seeing play out before our eyes. We cannot be timid. We need to actively speak out when we hear whispers of these ideas passing amongst our associates and families. Most importantly, we need to rededicate ourselves to being strong allies to marginalized communities. Republicans are trying to grab power by stoking fears that turn us against each other; we win by building a community that chooses love and acceptance over hate and fear, and we win by voting the Republican’s deadly extremism out.

We have no choice but to win.

Below, we’ve outlined our weekly to-dos. While they may feel somewhat unrelated at first glance, at their core, these issues are intertwined: the fight to save Roe is about abortion, yes, but it’s also about class. The fight for gun legislation is about guns, yes, but it’s also about structural racism. The fight against book banning is about books, yes, but it’s also about making sure we’re teaching children the real history of our nation. At Indivisible, right now, we think the best power we have to fight for improvements right now is to expand our majorities with Democrats who will be fighters — for democracy, against racism, against antisemitism, against hate in all its forms. We need your help to do it.

Your 4 weekly to-dos

  1. Sign up here to get involved in our Give No Ground program to defeat Republican extremism in November. We need to make every Republican politician in this country pay for their complicity. If you are not actively working against violence then you are tacitly condoning it. That means doing everything in our power to elect more progressive Democrats in November to ensure that we remove the stain of far-right ideology from the halls of power in this country and ensure we have the power to make real change.
  2. Click here to register for a Strategy Call & TX-28 Phonebank this Wednesday, May 18 at 7:30 ET/4:30 PT. The time is now to ensure we are electing a progressive majority in November. We need to not only, ensure we’re winning against Republicans, but also that we are electing Democrats who share our values and will fight for progress. Henry Cuellar is the last anti-choice Democrat in the House. Let’s elect Jessica Cisneros and make sure there are none.
  3. Reply to this email with pictures and stories from your #BansOffOurBodies actions this week. Not all of this weekend’s news was heartbreaking. Let’s celebrate how we mobilized. Let’s remind each other that Americans overwhelmingly believe abortion should be legal. Lastly, let’s show each other what community coming together looks like. We’d love to see what you saw!
  4. Click here to access a list of local abortion funds where you should donate. When Roe falls, 26 states are in line to criminalize abortion with 13 of those states already having laws on the books that impose that change immediately. The demand on local abortion funds will increase immediately with some Americans needing to travel hundreds of miles in order to make a personal medical decision. Let’s continue to make sure these funds are set up to support any and everyone who needs an abortion.

We rely on your support to keep call pages up and running, fund ads to get the word out, and continue all the work we do. If you want to help us keep Republicans from gaining control of Congress, click here to donate to help fund our work.

Indivisible at #BansOffOurBodies

Indivisible Chesco shared from a Bans Off rally in Pennsylvania.

Indivisible of AZ in the crowd at a Bans Off rally in Arizona.

Indivisible Mass Coalition promoting a rally organized by Indivisible-Rise Newburyport in Massachusetts.

Indivisible Chicago putting in the work to help organize at a Bans Off rally in Chicago.

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If this weekend shows us anything, it is that in the face of Republican oppression, Indivisibles organize. Let’s keep it going.



Indivisible Guide

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