Cheney and Kinzinger condemn GOP leaders after Buffalo massacre

·3-min read

Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., are condemning Republican House leadership for promoting or failing to denounce extremist ideologies — such as the “great replacement” conspiracy theory — that police say motivated the alleged gunman in Saturday’s deadly shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y., where 10 people were killed. Almost all the victims were Black.

“The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism,” Cheney tweeted on Monday. “History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them.”

Authorities say the suspect, Payton Gendron, posted a manifesto online detailing his plans to target Buffalo’s Black population. The 180-page manifesto included a litany of racist and antisemitic conspiracy theories, including the idea that white Americans are at risk of being "replaced" by people of color through immigration.

The baseless, once-fringe conspiracy theory has been echoed by Republican politicians and right-wing media figures, including Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Fox News host Tucker Carlson. It has also been referenced by gunmen in mass shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand; El Paso, Texas; and Pittsburgh.

Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.
Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger at a meeting of the Jan. 6 select committee in October 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite, File/AP)

Hours after the killings, Kinzinger pointed out on Twitter that Stefanik, the third-highest-ranking House Republican, was criticized for Facebook ads that labeled pictures of immigrants as a “PERMANENT ELECTION INSURRECTION.”

Kinzinger tagged House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in his tweet, saying he “should be asked about this.”

“Here is my replacement theory: we need to replace @EliseStefanik, @GOPLeader, @RepMTG, @CawthornforNC and a number of others,” Kinzinger added in a tweet Sunday. “The replacement theory they are pushing/tolerating is getting people killed.”

Cheney and Kinzinger are frequent critics of McCarthy, and are the only Republicans on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Last year, Stefanik replaced Cheney as House Republican Conference chair after the Wyoming Republican was ousted over her criticism of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.

McCarthy did not respond to Kinzinger or the killings publicly. His most recent Twitter post was a retweet of a report about illegal border crossings in El Paso, Texas.

Stefanik, for her part, tweeted, “Our nation is heartbroken about the tragic news of horrific loss of life in Buffalo. We are mourning for the entire community & loved ones.”

She added: “We must thank & honor our law enforcement & first responders who heroically face skyrocketing violent crimes.”

Mourners kneeling near the site of the mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.
Mourners kneel near the site of the mass shooting at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

President Biden, who will travel to Buffalo on Tuesday to meet with first responders and families of the victims, denounced Saturday’s massacre as “hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”

“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America,” Biden said in a statement. “Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”