'Replacement theories' and 'racially charged conspiracies': New analysis explains how GOP pushes 'dangerous' rhetoric
A new analysis is breaking down how Republican lawmakers and candidates are further contributing to the spread of dangerous rhetoric. From "replacement theories" to other conspiracy-driven rhetoric promoting misinformation, USA Today's Candy Woodall is shedding light on Republicans' increased use of aggressive ad campaigns.
Woodall wrote: "Experts who study language, rhetoric, and communication see a disturbing pattern between a string of violent incidents across the country and an increase in 'dangerous' language from Republican candidates and sitting GOP members of Congress in ads, social media posts, and speeches."
The Congressional reporter went on to highlight the issues with Republican-backed political ads currently circulating as the 2022 midterm elections approach. "During the 2022 midterm cycle, more than 2,700 ads have aired on television and social media focusing on racist tropes, according to a compilation by America's Voice, a progressive immigration advocacy group," Woodall wrote.
She added, "More than 100 directly mentioned the racist Great Replacement Theory and 'invasion' language, accusing Democrats of deliberately encouraging migrants to cross the southern border illegally to replace white voters. And more than 300 ads cite critical race theory, claiming Democrats are trying to indoctrinate children with fake history lessons about systemic racism against Blacks, according to a USA TODAY analysis."
She went on to highlight some of Republicans' main focal points. "For example, the Republican candidates' claims that liberals were 'grooming' children by pushing for LGBTQI+ rights were repeated by the Proud Boys when the extremist street gang disrupted a drag queen story hour on June 11 in California."
Although these types of ads may prove to be effective among Republican voters, critics have also expressed concern about the toll they can take on America's society. Zachary Mueller, the political director for America's Voice, shared his projection of the problems that could arise in the near future. "Without a doubt, there are serious downstream violent consequences," said Mueller.
She also explained how this type of political strategy appears to be working in Republicans' favor although they are facing deep criticism for it as it has taken its toll on America's democracy. "It has become a political strategy," said Sophie Bjork-James, a professor at Vanderbilt University and an expert on race relations, "and it's working very well."
"Many historians and professors who study U.S. democracy place the blame of escalating rhetoric squarely on Republicans," Woodall wrote. "They say it is highly unusual for leaders of one of America's two major political parties to be engaging in, much less condoning, such dangerous and divisive speech."
"It elevates extreme views to a legitimacy they haven't had in the past," said Ziad Munson, a professor of sociology at Lehigh University. "Words that used to be in the fringes of political life are now part of major political campaigns."
The latest analysis comes just days after U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas weighed in on the department's efforts to monitor and surveil extremist groups.
"Individuals spurred by ideology of hate, false narratives, personal grievances, to acts of violence and it is that we respond to and we seek to of course prevent," Mayorkas said. "We are in a heightened threat environment."
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