Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Racially-Motivated Murder Of Ten Innocent People At A Supermarket In Buffalo, New York, And Condemning Fox News For Spreading The Same Racist Replacement Theory Lies That Motivated The Attack

May 16, 2022

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the tragic racially-motivated shooting in Buffalo over the weekend, which claimed the lives of 10 people, and strongly condemned Fox News and other organizations who have spread the Great Replacement Theory that motivated this shooting. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Two days ago, barbarism descended upon the city of Buffalo.

At about 2:30pm on Saturday, in a predominantly Black neighborhood on Buffalo’s East Side, a lone gunman, driving from 200 miles away—equipped with an assault rifle, body armor, and a video camera on his helmet—carried out a targeted attack against unarmed civilians inside a Tops Friendly Supermarket.

His goal? To kill as many Black Americans as possible.

In a matter of minutes, ten people were killed, including a former Buffalo Police officer who worked as a security guard. At least three more were wounded.

It was the deadliest shooting in the history of Buffalo, and the worst mass shooting in America this year.

Today we hold in our hearts every single New Yorker whose life was tragically cut short during Saturday’s violence. We weep knowing nothing – nothing – will ever be able to bring them back. We mourn with their families and with their friends and with the entire community still shell-shocked by this shooting.

Tomorrow I will join with President Biden, the First Lady, and others to travel to Buffalo in order to pay my respects to those who died, as well as to visit the families and visit with local officials still investigating the attack.

We also of course thank all of our brave first responders who were at the scene moments after the shooting. Without them, more would have undoubtedly been killed.

And we stand – we stand strongly and proudly – with the community of Buffalo, known as a city of neighbors. Buffalonians during times of crisis have always pulled together, and that is happening today.

The East Side community, where the shooting occurred, is strong in faith, and I know that it— along with the entire city and region—will overcome this tragedy.

I say that because I know this community. Years ago, I worked hard to bring that grocery store to the East Side of Buffalo because the community deserved a full-fledged supermarket. It was a much-needed oasis in what was then a total food desert.

I know many in the community shop at that grocery store, whether to buy food on their way home from church or before the Bills games. It’s where people see friends and relatives and catch up on things in between errands. It has become a community center.

Buffalo: the “City of Good Neighbors,” and nowhere is that truer than on the East Side.

Now, I don’t know what could possess someone to bring violence to a place like that. What I do know is that this weekend’s shooting is part of an ugly pattern, one that dates to the earliest days of this nation.

Racism has always has been – and unfortunately still is – the poison, the poison, of America.

The original sin of slavery—and the decades of racial terror, discrimination, separate-but-equal, white supremacy and bigotry that followed—unfortunately continue to exert poisonous influence on our society.

An influence so poisonous that even today, after America elected a Black president, after America marched for racial justice, after the Senate confirmed a Black woman Supreme Court Justice for the first time ever, we must still reckon with unspeakable acts of racial violence like what happened Saturday on Jefferson Avenue.

As I said, the community is strong in faith, and I know it will overcome this tragedy.

I know that because I know Buffalo.

Over the next few days I will continue my conversations with local officials and federal investigators to get to the bottom of this harrowing massacre.

But while there is much that we don’t yet know about Saturday’s shooting, there are a few things that are already clear and which demand action.

First, the victims on Saturday were not targeted at random. Nor was this particular grocery store in this particular neighborhood of Buffalo a haphazard selection. It was not.

No: this was a racially motivated attack. The shooter made his choice by seeking the most predominantly Black neighborhood in the region.

Online, the shooter proudly professed himself as a neo-fascist, white supremacist, anti-Semite. His views, shared extensively online, embraced a dangerous ideology known as “the Great Replacement,” which asserts that a conspiracy exists to replace white Americans with immigrants and people of color.

Racially motivated shootings are sadly not new in our country. The last decade alone holds too many examples of too many lives that have been extinguished at the hands of shooters harboring white racist, white supremacist views.

The same hatred that motivated the shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, the same poison that possessed the shooter of a synagogue in Pittsburgh, the same bigotry that murdered eight people in Atlanta last year, and the same evil that took the lives of nine worshipers at a church in Charleston, was the same evil at play this Saturday in the beloved city of Buffalo, New York.

Not long ago, views like replacement theory were only found in the darkest places in deranged minds. Then they came to be found in the hardly-viewed trenches of the internet, and on chatrooms that most Americans never visit. To most Americans, these ideas are transparently repugnant and an affront to our core values.

They directly contravene the message of welcome and opportunity symbolized by the Statue of Liberty.

But unfortunately, with each passing year, it seems harder and harder to ignore that replacement theory and other racially-motivated views are increasingly coming out into the open, and given purported legitimacy by some MAGA Republicans and cable news pundits.

The message is not always explicit, but we’ve all seen the pattern:

Every time MAGA Republicans or pundits vilify wrongly immigrants and call them invaders, every time they falsely claim that millions of undocumented people cast ballots in our elections, and every time loud bigoted voices bemoan the disintegration of an imagined “classic” America, the subtext is clear: these hard-right MAGA Republicans argue that people of color and minority communities are somehow posing a threat — a threat — to the American way of life.

This is replacement theory in a nutshell. It is a dangerous and a deeply anti-American worldview. It’s poisoning people’s minds who spend hours wandering the darkest wastelands of the internet.

And let’s be clear: it’s a message that has also found a special home in several right wing outlets, and on one cable news channel in particular: Fox News.

In a craven quest for viewers and ratings, organizations like Fox News have spent years perfecting the craft of stoking cultural grievance and political resentment that eerily mirrors the messages found in replacement theory. 

According to one measure by the New York Times, Fox’s top political pundit—most widely watched—Tucker Carlson, has spewed rhetoric that echoes replacement theory at least 400 times on his show since 2016.

Let me repeat that: According to one measure by the New York Times, Fox’s top political pundit, Tucker Carlson, has spewed rhetoric that echoes replacement theory at least 400 times on his show since 2016.

Four hundred times. This is a poison that is being spread by one of the largest news organizations in our country.

Now, to its credit, this morning the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board—which is run by the same elites who run Fox News, owned by the same people—wrote that “Politicians and media figures have an obligation to condemn…such conspiratorial notions as ‘white replacement theory.’” Those are the words of the Wall Street Journal Editorial page.

They are right. Condemning racist ideologies and violence is necessary but hardly sufficient.

It is not enough for outlets like Fox News to simply condemn Saturday’s violence, and condemn shooter’s racist views, and then return to their regularly-scheduled programing.

To have an impact in the fight against domestic violent extremism, Fox News and their hosts need to actually stop spreading dangerous ideas like replacement theory on their shows.

Let me say that again: if organizations like Fox News truly want to condemn this weekend’s violence, they need to stop spreading ideas like replacement theory on their shows. We see, sadly, unfortunately, and on all too many occasions what happens when these views are given a platform.

Every single media pundit, every single elected politician—and indeed every single voice of influence in this country—should band together to stomp views like replacement theory out of existence.

These views should have no place in American society and certainly no place in the segments of our most-watched news channels.

What we need to do, instead, is to respond to tragedies like the one that occurred this weekend, with a resolve to root out hatred in our country.

And we must leave no stone unturned in pursuing solutions that make these attacks less likely, these tragic, awful, horrible attacks. Just look at the pictures of the people who died.

To be clear, denouncing and rooting out racist conspiracy theories spread by the hard right is only one step we must take, and certainly not a substitute for passing other meaningful legislation to address the gun violence epidemic.

But as we mourn those whose lives that were taken away this weekend, as we grieve with the survivors, we must also make a commitment, as Americans, to oppose the old poisons of racism and white supremacy, been with us far too long, that inspired these violent attacks to begin with.

If we don’t do that, I fear these attacks will continue and even multiply, and true justice—and a nation, that aspires to E Pluribus Unum—will continue to evade our great nation.  

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