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Another week, another senseless, violent tragedy in the so-called Greatest Country in the World. Dozens dead. A white supremacist terror attack targeting a Black community in Buffalo, New York. And a classroom of Fourth Graders violently ripped away from their families in Uvalde, Texas. Countless lives affected. It hurts to even process. Yet, somehow, the cruelty of the two most extreme members of the extremist Arizona Republican Party endlessly persists as Rep. Paul Gosar and Sen. Wendy Rogers hijacked these tragedies to incite more hatred.
In the wake of two horrific and brutal massacres, these two political embarrassments took advantage of the moments following to spread more of their hateful ideology.
On May 14th in Buffalo, NY, an 18-year-old white supremacist terrorist livestreamed himself shooting up a Tops supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood he specifically sought out so he could murder Black people. All ten victims were Black. Grandparents gone, a civil rights activist, community church members, a cancer survivor, a loving sister, a father buying a cake for his 3-year old son— – all gone.
There is absolutely no doubt what the motives of the shooter were. He was an open antisemite and vicious racist who decorated the murder weapons with anti-Black slurs, a “reparations” reference, “#BLM Mogged,” an acronym for “stop your genocide against our white nations,” and names or references to fellow white supremacist terrorists responsible for the Poway Synagogue, Christchurch Mosque, Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Tree of Life Synagogue, and the 2011 Norway massacres. The Buffalo terrorist plagiarized large portions of his 180-page manifesto from the fellow racist murderers he admires. In the livestream, he can be seen ignoring a white man in the Tops supermarket, apologizing to him, letting him live, and moving on to hunt his intended Black victims.
The chat logs, the manifesto, the targeted murders – it all makes very clear where the Buffalo shooter stood ideologically yet there was still an effort from the far right to say otherwise. Some disinformation influencers worked to confuse their audiences about the killer’s motives, others took the Alex Jones-style approach and declared the anti-Black massacre as a “false flag.” Wendy Rogers went to the latter.
Within hours of the shooting, Rogers posted across her numerous social media platforms:
“Fed boy summer has started in Buffalo.”
No sympathy, no condolences, no fake “thoughts and prayers.” Instead the sitting state senator fuels a conspiracy that will lead to more trauma to the victim’s families and attempts to hide the true racist motives of the white supremacist terrorist. Her incredibly insensitive comment is also a nod to “White Boy Summer,” a song and meme popularized by Chet Hanx that was quickly lifted by white nationalist groups, including Nick Fuentes, who used the reference for his summer tour. Even in a time of great devastation, Rogers doesn’t stop posting like a /pol/ troll.
The following day, senate Democrats called a vote to have Rogers face an Ethics Committee investigation over her comments. Fellow Republican state senators played ignorant to Rogers comments, some saying they hadn’t even heard about the news and others failing to understand the meaning of her comments. An effort to have her immediately expelled failed, but the legislators agreed to the Committee hearing that will likely result in no further repercussions. Arizona Republican Party chairwoman Kelli Ward said that Rogers would not be expelled and an expulsion would require two-third majority, which is unlikely with a Republican majority.
Only 10 days later, the United States witnessed another mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas after another 18-year-old gunman slaughtered a Fourth Grade classroom killing at least two teachers and 19 children. The Uvalde killer had shot his own grandmother before crashing into the school and freely making his way around the school due to the incompetence and, cowardice of local police.
The death toll wasn’t even clear before Rep. Paul Gosar falsely accused the killer of being a “transsexual leftist illegal alien.” None of this was true. The killer was born in North Dakota and the rumors of a “trans mass murderer” conspiracy was the result a far-right hate campaign being trolled into existence from the depths of 4chan and Gab.
Immediately following the Uvalde massacre, multiple random trans women were viciously targeted by far-right trolls and being marked as the killer. One woman holding up a trans flag had her images pulled from reddit and another had hers taken from her Twitter. Gab CEO Andrew Torba shared the lie to his 3.6 million followers and it quickly made its way to traditional social media platforms where the dangerous transphobic conspiracy still remains. Numerous trans women were forced to prove their identities online, but the damage was done, even after their proof otherwise, conservative figures like Candace Owens still repeated the “trans murderer” lie.
The next day, an innocent trans teenager in El Paso, Texas, was attacked by a group of grown men grabbing and accosting her. She was accused of “perverting kids,” and holding some responsibility for “killing kids.” Both clear reference to the anti-trans hate campaigns to characterize all trans people as “groomers,” and the conspiracy stoked by Gosar to label the Texas murderer as transgender.
The full details out of Uvalde are still unclear, but conservatives like Gosar were quick to find any excuse to baselessly attack a vulnerable minority group and put them at risk for more violence. A response from Republican leadership over Gosar’s false accusations also seems unlikely. Especially since this anti-trans hate campaign comes during a year of vicious transphobic bigotry and a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills, mostly singling out trans people. Even other members of the Arizona Republican Party managed to find blame in trans people for the Texas shooting.
“When we don’t value life, when we celebrate abortion, when we don’t acknowledge science when it comes to gender, when it comes to who you are and what you want to be and you can just do whatever, when you bastardize childhood, what do we expect? What do we expect to happen,” Sen. Kelly Townsend responded on the Senate Floor within 24-hours of the Uvalde massacre.
Rogers and Gosar’s affiliation with white nationalists, militias, QAnon, and neo-Nazis is well documented. Arguably, there are no two politicians who are so openly friendly with neo-fascist groups. Rogers is an admitted Oath Keeper and one of the most fervent voices to (still) overturn the 2020 presidential election and execute her political enemies. Gosar was heavily involved with the plots around “Stop the Steal” at national and local levels. Both Rogers and Gosar are the some most “groyper“-boosting politicians, regularly associating with white nationalist “groyper” leader Nick Fuentes and appearing as noted speakers at his America First Political Action Conferences (AFPAC). Gosar often excuses his relationship with the groypers as “reaching out to the newer generation,” but these are far-right conferences where old-school white supremacists like Jared Taylor and Peter Brimelow groom younger neo-nazis like Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet.
“I’ve said we need to build more gallows. If we try some of these high-level criminals, convict them and use a newly built set of gallows, it’ll make an example of these traitors who have betrayed our country,” Rogers said in her remote AFPAC III speech to shouts of approval from the audience and floods of “based” reactions in the livestream of the event.
Other AFPAC III speeches between Rogers and Gosar included Fuentes praising Vladimir Putin, Adolf Hitler and Gab CEO Andrew Torba repeating antisemitic Christian Identity talking points. Rogers celebrated the speech of white nationalist Vincent James Foxx who ranted about “Western white culture” being “replaced,” echoing the tenets of the racist Great Replacement conspiracy. Foxx, who has recently expressed desire to “throw gays off roofs” previously filmed propaganda for neo-Nazi street-fighting gang RAM, but has more recently been getting involved with local Idaho politics.
“Vincent James run for office,” Rogers posted to her Telegram during his AFPAC III speech.
Rogers would actually receive a small slap on the wrist after her Feb. 25 appearance at the white nationalist conference — not for her violent comments or even for promoting her AFPAC III speech with an image of Torba, Fuentes and herself shooting a rhino branded with the Star of David. Instead, the Republican-majority senate struck out all references to her bigotry and censured her for threatening her fellow Republican with “political destruction” over social media.
“It was something we absolutely hated to do. As Republicans, we stand by the 1st Amendment but that does not allow her to threaten our caucus members with political destruction or calling us communists,” senate leader Karen Fann texted to failed Delaware Senate candidate and white nationalist media host Lauren Witzke.
Rogers faced no real repercussions, so naturally she went back to peddling conspiracies and networking with the extreme right. Gosar also faced no consequences for rallying alongside white supremacists, appearing at Fuentes’ conference for a second year in a row and continuing to pander to the Christofascist groyper movement. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy even expressed interest in giving Gosar his House committee assignments back after the House voted to censure and remove him from committees late last year for sharing a violent, anti-immigrant meme video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The censuring also hasn’t stopped the House Oversight Committee from continuing to include Gosar in their usual activities. Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey also defended spending about half a million dollars to help get Rogers elected, replying that it’s better to have her than a Democrat in the seat.
As U.S. House leadership has made it clear they see no issue with Gosar’s open embrace of white nationalism and conspiracism, the Arizona state senate leadership shows the same with Rogers. Not a single Arizona republican has even felt the need to condemn Gosar. It’s not cowardice, it’s acceptance. The Republican Party, at a national and state level, has chosen to welcome some of the most militantly fascist members of their party. Rogers’ extremism and outspoken desire to move the Overton Window further right has also resulted in her far outraising her colleagues in campaign donations and Trump’s full embrace.
Nothing is too obscene. Rogers can speak at a QAnon event packed with “Hitler faked his death” conspiracies and “Jews did 9/11” propaganda videos or “joke” about trans people being murdered. Gosar can constantly pander to a white nationalist youth movement and share memes making antisemitic dogwhistles and freely promote Nazi-heavy social media platform Gab. Their endless hate-mongering doesn’t even stop when the country is hit with back-to-back tragedies.