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media Repulsicans

Defunding versus Replacing: why are they being covered so differently?

The Washington Post recently published an article on the newest Right wing conspiracy, WRT. White replacement theory.

Last December, the Associated Press and NORC conducted a large national poll examining conspiratorial ideas including this one. They found that nearly half of Republicans agree to at least some extent with the idea that there’s a deliberate intent to “replace” native-born Americans with immigrants.

Source: Nearly half of Republicans agree with ‘great replacement theory’ – The Washington Post

Am I surprised so many Republicans believe this conspiracy? No. For nearly all my adult life, Republicans have embraced nonsense and conspiracy. I heard Republicans tell me how Hillary’s antifa troops will round up conservatives and put them in jade helm FEMA camps hidden under Ukrainian pizza parlors where they’ll be forced to gay Sharia law marry illegals while the Obama Care death panels confiscate their guns and bibles and force them to say happy holidays while BLM teaches their kids about critical race theory. So, no, I am not surprised there is a market for “White Replacement Theory”.

Replacement isn’t even something new. It’s been around and growing for years now. Axios covered this last September.

A growing number of elected Republicans are openly promoting “white replacement theory,” a decades-old conspiracy theory that’s animated terrorist attacks, including the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Source: Racist ‘white replacement theory’ goes mainstream with Republicans

The big issue with the WRT theory is that it is wrong. There are plenty of people who did the math and point out what is wrong with WRT. Back in 2018, Matthew Yglesias wrote this:

There is, however, another way of looking at it. The very same census report projects that as far out as 2060, 68.5 percent of the population will be white. It’s just that a reasonably large share of the white population will be partially descended from Latin American immigrants. A further 6.2 percent of the population will belong to “two or more races,” with a large share of those likely identifying at least in part as white.The difference here is between an exclusive and inclusive definition of whiteness. It’s clear that in the face of rising intermarriage rates, a larger share of the population will be at least partially descended from Asia or Latin America, while the partially black share of the population will grow at a more modest rate.But many of these people will, like me, be of predominantly European ancestry and have skin tone and other facial features that fit comfortably within the conventional boundaries of whiteness. If you use the exclusive version of whiteness — in which anyone who’s part anything is perforce not white — then you get a majority-minority America by 2044. If you use an inclusive view and let anyone who identifies as white be white, then America remains majority white indefinitely.

Source: Majority-minority America? Overhyped narratives fuel white anxiety. – Vox

Members of the white working class should remember that if you are Irish, Slavic or Mediterranean, you’ve only been white since the 1880s to 1920s. For many-your grandparents weren’t white when they got here. So the idea of inclusive whiteness is hardly radical and hardly unprecedented in US history.

And this leads me to my main point. Take a moment and compare how something that is clearly wrong, clearly racist, clearly counter to US history and that has inspired multiple mass killings being absorbed into the GOP orthodoxy has been covered versus something like Defund the Police.

This is from almost a year ago in The Hill.

Race and political ideology were defining lines when it came to support for reallocating police funding. Sixty-seven percent of Democrats polled supported the redistribution of police funds to social programs, while only 16 percent of Republicans backed the initiative.When it came to race, 63 percent of Black voters polled supported allocating portions of police funding to social programs, while only 35 percent of white voters agreed.

Source: Poll finds only 18 percent support ‘defund the police’ | The Hill

The idea of removing responsibilities from the police and moving them to social services isn’t some new radical idea. In the 1970s cities started creating EMS departments. Before EMS, police officers would drive people to hospitals. 99% Invisible has a great podcast episode about this.

This article is from back in 2019:

The new survey from Monmouth University found that 77 percent of American adults say that “defund the police” means to “change the way the police departments operate,” not to eliminate them. That view is  shared by 73 percent of white, non-college educated Americans and two-thirds of Republicans, Trump’s core voters. Just 18 percent of Americans say the movement wants to “get rid of police departments,” a view shared by only 28 percent of Republicans and 18 percent of independents. 

Source: Large majorities disagree with President Trump’s frame of “Defund the Police” movement

From the very beginning it was clear to strong majorities, including majorities of Republicans that the Defund movement was about reforming Police departments not eliminating them. It was also clear, from the very beginning that reform was popular with Democrats and not at all popular with Republicans.

But the questions remains, is this how the press covered the defund movement? Was it mostly covered as a movement of people who wanted to reform the police and reduce the possibility of fatal over policing? Do you remember hearing how it was popular with key Democratic constituencies or did you hear from the parade of Never Trump Republicans that Dems needed to distance themselves from Defund and denounce it?

I for one, struggle to think of even a single example of anyone discussing Defund as a reform movement. When I think of the coverage of “Defund” I think of all the well paid scions of Shelter Culture who repeatedly misrepresented the Defund movement. I think of Never Trump allies obsessively repeating the lie that Defund was about eliminating police departments. And they did this while they turned a blind eye to the growing WRT conspiracy.

My theory on why these two stories were covered this way is a simple one. Saying the simple truth, that the Republican base is filled with racists, conspiracy theorists and racist conspiracy theorists is actively thwarted by the media gatekeepers. Repeatedly lying and gaslighting liberals as a way to defuse any talk of reform carries is not thwarted by the media gatekeepers who hire, promote and broadcast an endless stream of right wing hacks to defuse any talk of liberal reforms.