The Left Is Using the Buffalo Shooting to Demonize Its Political Opponents | Opinion

The white supremacist arrested for killing 10 people at a Buffalo supermarket on Sunday did not leave much room for doubt as to why he allegedly carried out such a heinous and horrific act. In a lengthy and unhinged manifesto, he made reference to the "Great Replacement Theory," a racist and antisemitic conspiracy theory that accuses Jews of importing Black and brown immigrants to replace a nation's native born whites.

Rather than taking this horrifying incident as an opportunity to unite against such an ugly, fringe view, the Left instead seized on the tragedy as an opportunity to blame their political opponents and liken them all to the Buffalo shooter. Before the bodies of the victims were cold, liberal pundits, Democratic politicians, and Left-wing organizations and journalists began to lay the blame for the shooting at the feet of their political rivals and use the tragedy as an opportunity to aggrandize themselves.

Thus, the left-wing news advocacy website Occupy Democrats tweeting directly after the event that the shooter was motivated by the "'white replacement theory' that has been pushed by Trump. RT TO EXPOSE TRUMP!" The tweet was a naked attempt to boost engagement while using the news as a moral cover.

But they were not content to solely blame Trump. Soon after, Rolling Stone published a piece entitled "The Buffalo Shooter Isn't a 'Lone Wolf.' He's a Mainstream Republican," which peddled the disgusting falsehood that half of the American electorate supports violent extremism.

This kind of divisive rhetoric and eagerness to blame political opponents is designed to muddy the waters by taking attention away from the social forces that foster extremism and shifting the focus toward how these incidents can be exploited for political gain.

And if they can't gain politically from the coverage, they simply don't cover it. How much have you heard about the other mass shootings from this weekend? Or about the massive crime wave leaving Americans across the country dead every other weekend this year? Recall how quickly they disappeared the story of Darrel Brooks Jr., who caused the deaths of six people last year at a Wisconsin Christmas Parade in what was explicitly a racially motivated mass killing.

The truth is that no political faction or ideology can claim to be free of psychopaths and other antisocial personalities. But when you blame your political opponents of supporting racist murderers en masse, you get to obscure the violent quotient on your own side—while claiming to be the only side not justifying violence.

Thus the rabid attacks against Fox News host Tucker Carlson, whose name began to trend on Twitter immediately after the shooting with liberal journalists at major outlets linking him to the carnage. "Like the El Paso shooter who targeted a Walmart in a Latino neighborhood, the Buffalo shooter, who went after a store in a Black neighborhood, subscribed to the Great Replacement theory touted by conservative elites like Tucker Carlson and believed by nearly half of GOP voters," claimed The Washington Post's Emmanuel Felton in a typical tweet of what has become its own genre.

Countless other liberal media outlets immediately and unanimously condemned Carlson in an attempt to lay blame at the feet of mainstream Republicans for tragic deaths caused by an unhinged extremist, despite the fact that the shooter did not mention Carlson once in his lengthy manifesto and went out of his way to denigrate Fox News for being controlled by Jews. There was no indication whatsoever that the suspected shooter was inspired by anything espoused by the Fox News host, who has argued—along with many Democrats, it bears mentioning—that Democrats believe mass immigration is good for their electoral chances.

But this did not stop liberal pundits and media outlets from constructing a haphazard connection and then driving it home like truth. The point of this dirty political tactic is obvious: It is designed to subtly imply that all political opponents support and uphold the extreme views that motivated this heinous act of violence, thus silencing and defanging even the most valid forms of inquiry and criticism surrounding immigration policy.

Buffalo Shooting
The suspected Buffalo shooter allegedly wrote in a manifesto that New York's strict gun laws would limit the chances of someone stopping the attack. Above, law enforcement officials are seen at the location of the mass shooting incident at a Tops market on May 15, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. Scott Olson/Getty

By implying that concerns about the economic impact of mass immigration are the same as tacit support for white supremacy and racial anxieties about shifting demographics is a clever sleight of hand that silences critics by lumping them into the same category as violent racial extremists. It's a way of highlighting the most extreme excesses of a political constituency as "the norm" to further stoke division, suspicion and growing cultural tensions.

In fact, the liberal media is guilty of weaponizing "Great Replacement" for this very purpose: In 2018 the New York Times published an OpEd titled "We Can Replace Them" employing the same inflammatory language and framework about demographic shifts that they accuse others of using to encourage violence.

It feels like those in the liberal media are far more eager than their political opponents to continue perpetuating a dangerous cycle of escalating rhetoric so long as incidents of tragedy continue to generate political capital for them to use as cudgels against their opposition.

It's absolutely appalling. We can't let their smear tactics silent legitimate dissent.

Angie Speaks is a cultural commentator and cohost of Low Society Podcast.

The views in this article are the writer's own.